West Linn endures a big second-half rally to top the Lakers

by: VERN UYETAKE - CJ Sitton looks for an open teammate in the Lions' home victory over Lakeridge.It's not often that a team will come away with a win over perhaps its biggest rival in the state and leave the locker room shaking its head in frustration. But that's where the West Linn Lions were at Tuesday after a perplexing 72-64 win on the road against Lake Oswego.

It was a tale of two halves as West Linn appeared to have an impressive rout in hand, leading 48-26 at the break, but Lake Oswego stormed back, giving West Linn's vaunted offense issues that it has rarely had to deal with this year and, although the 22-point deficit was ultimately too much to overcome, the Lions know that they will need to be better when the postseason rolls around.

West Linn was its typical high-flying self in the first half. An early 8-0 run gave the Lions some separation as seven different players scored in the opening stanza.

West Linn led 24-13 but was whistled for nine early fouls.

The flow of the game opened up in the second quarter and West Linn's bench made a big impact. Ty Cleland hit a pair of 3-pointers and CJ Sitton had a nice all-around night and had eight first-half points.

A late steal by Anthony Mathis led to a buzzer-beating layup by Elijah Grant and West Linn led 48-26 at the half.

But the game looked very different as the third quarter started. Lake Oswego opened with an 8-0 run and consciously slowed the game down, passing the ball around for open looks on offense while trying to limit West Linn's running game.

It became a 13-4 run before Payton Pritchard answered with a 3-pointer.

Still, after putting up nearly 50 points in the first half, the Lions were held to seven in the third quarter and the lead was trimmed to 55-42.

The Lions were knocked out of rhythm and started to struggle from the field in the fourth quarter. With 2:30 left in the game, Lake Oswego had closed the gap to 64-54. But Ryan Shearmire responded with two quick buckets.

West Linn was able to keep the Lakers at arm's length but the team was frustrated by its performance in the second half.

The win followed a blowout at home against Lakeridge Friday. The Pacers hung with the Lions into the second quarter but West Linn's relentless pressure on the perimeter allowed West Linn to blow the game open.

The Lions hit their first four shots from the field in the game but Lakeridge countered with six points from point guard Reggie Oliver.

West Linn led 19-16 after the first quarter and the Pacers were matching the Lions stride for stride early in the second period.

However, Oliver was quickly resigned to the bench with flu-like symptoms and the team's ball-handling struggled.

Pritchard and Mathis each caught fire from the field and the Lions forced 10 turnovers in the quarter, keying a 16-0 run. West Linn would lead 44-27 at the half and Lakeridge was never in the game from that point on.

Pritchard continued to have the hot hand for West Linn, finishing with a game-high 22 points in just three quarters of action.

West Linn led 60-35 after three quarters and then played its bench for the majority of the fourth period in a 77-49 win.

The Lions will travel to face Canby Friday.

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