Clackamas hits 17 more free throws in the game to fend off a strong West Linn effort

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - West Linn's Sidney Kolasinski keeps the ball away from a Clackamas defender during a drive to the hoop in Tuesday's game.For the second time this year, the West Linn girls basketball team came exceedingly close to knocking off top-five ranked Clackamas. The Lions bested the Cavaliers in nearly every statistic save for one glaring exception and nearly erased a seven-point deficit with 90 seconds to play in a 54-53 defeat at home.

West Linn dramatically out-shot Clackamas and were even with the Cavaliers in rebounding and turnovers. However, a massive free throw discrepancy was the unequivocal difference in the contest. The Lions were whistled for 20 fouls in the game compared to 10 infractions on Clackamas and the Cavaliers were awarded 28 free throws compared to just seven for the Lions despite Clackamas playing an intense and physical press and West Linn relentless working the ball into the paint and attacking the rim aggressively.

“The more aggressive team won and got to the line. It's a learning experience for us. You have to adjust to the way the officials are calling the game,” Lee said.

In a game that was dead even for much of the night, Clackamas made two runs late in the third and fourth quarters which helped define the game and, in both quarters, virtually all of the damage was done from the foul line.

The Lions scored the final four points of the first quarter to tie the game at 16-16. West Linn made a point of working the ball into post Morgan Haskin who had a nice game with nine points and eight rebounds.

West Linn also received yeoman's work inside from Sidney Kolasinski, who made multiple drives to the basket and finished with 15 points.

Ashley Johnson knocked down two of her four three-pointers in the game in the second quarter, the second of which came with just seconds left in the half to give West Linn a 31-28 lead at the break.

The Lions started well on offense in the third quarter, getting a pair of quick hoops from Haskin in the paint.

However, Clackamas responded with efficiency on the offensive end as well. The Cavaliers were dealt a blow when one of the team's stars, Deeshyra Thomas, crashed into the wall early in the period, hurting her leg in the process and was out for the remainder of the game.

But the Cavaliers got hot from the field, hitting a banked three-pointer to go up by five points.

The Lions battled back to tie but a string of fouls in the final minute allowed Clackamas to build a 45-41 lead and put the Cavaliers in the bonus for the rest of the game.

Clackamas maintained a slim advantage in the fourth quarter and the game turned with roughly two minutes remaining.

After hitting a free throw, a referee whistled West Linn for a violation prior to the second attempt, awarding Clackamas the ball. Lee approached the official asking for an explanation. None was given and Lee was warned to get back to his bench.

Lee consented, despite never receiving an answer about the alleged infraction and, as he was returning to the huddle, the referee issued a technical foul, giving the Cavaliers two free throws and the ball.

Clackamas went up by seven points and seemingly had the game locked up.

However, the Lions upped their intensity and got two big shots from Julia Boyd-Helm, the second of which cut the lead to 52-50.

Clackamas was fouled and knocked down both attempts in the closing seconds. West Linn went down the court and Kolasinski drained a baseline three-pointer to cut the lead to one point but, without a timeout remaining, Clackamas could let the clock run out without inbounding the ball, holding on for another narrow win.

“It's a good match-up for us. They have some players that you have to account for and I think we give them some issues with our personnel as well,” Lee said.

The loss is West Linn's second in a row, following a lopsided 80-33 defeat against an obviously fired-up Oregon City team last week.

The Pioneers jumped out to a 24-3 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.

“That game was a year in the making and Oregon City was as focused as I've seen them recently. We played hard for 32 minutes and I think it was a compliment to our team that Oregon City played the way they did against us,” Lee said.

West Linn will take on Lakeridge this Friday as it looks to get back in the win column. It will also be West Linn's Night With the Lions this week. All youth players wearing their uniforms will get into the game for free and players will be signing autographs afterwards.

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