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Lions roll over Clackamas in second half


After a cold shooting start, West Linn runs away from the No. 4 Cavaliers

by: JON HOUSE - Ryan Shearmire elevates for a lay-up in West Linn's victory over Clackamas.Even without its best shooting night, West Linn's boys basketball still found a way to knock off a top-five team in its league opener last week and did so convincingly.

The Lions overcame a slow first half and played terrific defense from start to finish in a 63-43 victory over Clackamas at home.

West Linn was ice cold to start the game, hitting just two of its first 16 attempts from the field and scoring only eight first-quarter points.

Numbers like that would seem to play right into Clackamas' hands but the Cavaliers didn't have much better luck. The Lions swarmed to the ball defensively, forcing turnovers and containing Clackamas to just six points in the opening period.

“The defense did a great job. That's about as good as it's been in my four years here,” coach Eric Viuhkola said.

While Clackamas did succeed in slowing the pace down somewhat in the first half, the Lions simply struggled to find a rhythm even when they could get out and run.

“Clackamas is really physical and I think we got caught up in that a little bit early on,” Viuhkola said.

The Lions would close the half on an 8-2 run and led 22-14 at the break.

West Linn's defense continued to set the tone early in the third period and once the Lions started to heat up from long range, the game was all but over.

Anthony Mathis and Hayden Coppedge knocked down 3-pointers as the Lions opened the second half on a 10-2 and the Cavaliers were suddenly scrambling.

“When we move the ball, good things happen. I think the ball got stuck sometimes in the first half and we took some bad shots,” Viuhkola said.

West Linn continued to keep the pressure on and actively drove hard to the basket in the second half, resulting in a significant advantage at the foul line.

“We definitely wanted to be the tougher team,” Viuhkola said.

The Lions made a concerted effort to slow down Clackamas' solid inside game and did well at denying the ball in the paint.

The Cavaliers struggled for easy baskets for much of the game and, once the Lions extended the lead into double digits, Clackamas never mounted much of a comeback.

The Lions' bench continues to give West Linn a boost too, making the most of their minutes.

“It's kind of tough because even our 12th guy can really play and would probably get big minutes on another team. C.J. (Sitton) and Will (Matthiessen) have all been contributing and Ty (Cleland) is probably playing the best basketball of his career,” Viuhkola said.

Four of West Linn's starters finished in double figures led by Mathis with 19.

The Lions remain No. 1 in the state and, as long as the team keeps winning, that isn't likely to change as the Three Rivers League is arguably the top in the state.

West Linn will face another top-10 opponent Friday when it takes on No. 8 Lakeridge.