The Lions survive a hot shooting night from Westview to move into the quarterfinals

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn's Ty Cleland looks to get a shot off in the Lions' playoff win over Westview last week.The West Linn boys basketball team took a good shot from Westview at home on Friday in the second round of the playoffs but showed the poise of a team on a mission in closing out a 69-54 victory to advance to the Rose Garden for the third straight year.

The final score looks a bit lopsided but the Lions trailed at the half and closed the game on a 13-0 run to lock down a berth in the quarterfinals.

It took a while for the Wildcats to eventually cool off in the game and when they did, the Lions seized control.

The game took on a frenetic pace in the opening quarter with both teams getting up and down the floor quickly. Westview had the hot hand early, knocking down a variety of jump shots, some amidst heavy defensive pressure.

The Lions matched the Wildcats, getting strong takes to the basket and finishing well at the rim. Westview would knock down a shot late in the opening quarter to take a 21-19 lead.

“We didn't knock down a lot of threes in the game but we had nice drives to the basket and good cuts,” coach Eric Viuhkola said.

The action slowed slightly in the second quarter but Westview still knocked down difficult shots and hung right with the No. 5 Lions.

Another buzzer-beater to close out the half allowed the Wildcats to maintain their two-point lead at the break.

“In the first half it just seemed like they were hitting everything. At halftime we kind of felt like we took their best shot and were still only down by two,” Viuhkola said.

West Linn remained confident and continued to play active defense, closing out on Westview's shooters and limiting second-chance opportunities.

The Lions made an effort to work the ball inside more which opened up the team's offense. West Linn made a run to build a five-point lead heading into the final period.

“We just needed to relax on offense. Defensively we played pretty well all game and forced them into tough shots. They just knocked them down,” Viuhkola said.

Still, West Linn struggled to shake the Wildcats. Every time the Lions were on the precipice of putting the game out of reach, Westview would knock down a clutch shot to spark a run.

Westview closed the gap to two points midway through the fourth quarter before the Lions locked down on defense.

The Wildcats were held scoreless for nearly the final four minutes of regulation while West Linn steadily rebuilt its advantage and sealed the game with strong foul shooting.

Ryan Shearmire led four Lions in double figures with 16 points. Anthony Mathis added 15, Jarrod Howard had 12 and Payton Pritchard scored 11.

West Linn moves on to face Grant in the first round of the state tournament. The Generals knocked off the Lions very early in the season and the Lions have a chance to avenge one of their few losses this season.

“Grant's really good and really tough minded. They're not going to do anything that tricks you. I feel like we're a completely different team than we were earlier in the year but they're a very good rebounding team which is a concern,” Viuhkola said.

Results of Wednesday afternoon's game were not available at press time but, with a win, the Lions would likely move on to possibly face No. 1 Lake Oswego in the semifinals on Friday just like last season.

“We're excited. We feel like this is where we should be,” Viuhkola said.

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