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New coach hopes to lead Lions back to Rose Garden


Lisa Griffith takes over a talented and exciting girls basketball team

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Ashley Johnson is one of four talented seniors returning to the Lions this year. West Linn hopes to be one of the top teams in the state this season under new coach Lisa Griffith.There's plenty of reason for optimism with the West Linn girls basketball program this year. Armed with a new coach and a new system, the Lions have a solid mix of talented upperclassmen and exciting younger players on a squad that won't back down from anyone this winter.

Coach Lisa Griffith, a former standout at St. Mary's Academy and the University of Arizona, inherits a strong program and one that has had plenty of success in recent years.

“From a leadership standpoint, I'm very blessed. Our seniors set a wonderful example and their passion and positivity is great for our younger players to see,” Griffith said.

In early practices, Griffith has been implementing her new system on offense and defense. The Lions will look to be active defensively and quick up the court on offense.

“It's definitely a run-and-gun tempo. It's fast-paced on offense and defense and there's never a dull moment,” Griffith said.

The defense figures to be a strength for the Lions this year as the team is loaded with athleticism and size.

West Linn has four seniors, all of whom should be key contributors this year. Morgan Haskin will man the post for the Lions and should be one of the top players in the league at that position.

“She's probably one of the more athletic bigs I've been able to coach and hasn't reached her full potential yet,” Griffith said.

Sharpshooter Ashley Johnson is back for her senior campaign along with Genna Hughes, one of the team's top all-around athletes, and Hannah Mathiessen, a defensive specialist.

Sydney Kolasinksi is also back and should be one of the Lions' biggest threats on both sides of the ball, while sophomore point guard Caitlin Malvar should also be an early bright spot for the team.

The Lions will also feature some freshmen on this year's squad, and multiple players will battle for playing time early in the year.

West Linn should be able to do a little bit of everything this season. The Lions are big and powerful inside and should give teams fits on the glass.

The Lions also have a very talented outside shooting team with nearly everyone on the roster capable of knocking down shots from long range.

West Linn will play a very challenging schedule this season, opening up with three consecutive road games.

The Lions will also play in the highly competitive Interstate Shootout over the break.

And the Three Rivers League will certainly be no picnic once again with Oregon City and Clackamas each expected to field a very strong squad.

“I don't think you'll be able to sleep on anybody in the league," Griffith said. "We just want to be competitive for the league and make sure we're playing West Linn basketball."