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Pritchard wins 6A player of the year

Anthony Mathis and Ryan Shearmire also earn all-state honors


by: VERN UYETAKE - Payton Pritchard helped lead West Linn to its second straight state basketball championship in March and was recently named the 6A player of the year. The accolades keep pouring in for the West Linn boys basketball team following another historic season which saw the Lions capture a second straight state championship.

Three of the team's starters earned all-state honors, led by sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard winning the coveted 6A player-of-the-year award.

Pritchard figured to be one of the top players in the state heading into the season and, by the end of the year, he left little doubt as to who the top 6A award belonged to.

Pritchard was a catalyst for the Lions all season, guiding a fast-paced offense loaded with scoring options. An exceptionally creative ball handler, Pritchard could get to the hoop against virtually any defender and had a penchant for hitting crucial 3-pointers throughout the season.

“He was our quarterback and with that comes a lot of the credit and a lot of the blame. We definitely wanted the ball in his hands,” coach Eric Viuhkola said.

Viuhkola wasn't surprised by Pritchard's season after seeing how he progressed following his freshman year.

“I said even a month after the season ended (last year) that he was going to be one of the best players in the state. He just matured physically and found an extra gear,” Viuhkola said.

While Pritchard was a huge spark for the Lions and a key to the team winning the 2013 state title, he took more ownership of the squad during his sophomore campaign and became the team's most dangerous weapon.

“He's so competitive and he really wanted to show people what he could do and the great thing was it never came at the expense of the team,” Viuhkola said.

After battling heavy expectations and some very strong early-season competition, Pritchard blossomed at the Les Schwab Invitational.

He was then nearly unstoppable, helping the Lions to an undefeated record in the TRL and an impressive run through the playoffs.

He averaged 20 points per game in three contests at the Moda Center, all of which were won by double digits.

Pritchard and guard Anthony Mathis made up perhaps the most feared back-court in the state. Mathis, a junior, also earned first-team honors.

The athletic guard was one of the top outside shooters in Oregon and was known for keying momentum-changing runs for the Lions all season.

“I thought Anthony might be the second best player in the state. Those guys were 1 and 1A for us all year,” Viuhkola said.

Senior Ryan Shearmire made the second-team all-state. Shearmire has been a fixture for the Lions since his freshman year, helping West Linn make the tournament in all four of his seasons on varsity.

Shearmire, listed at 6'4” often had to play out of position, defending the post and battling physical players in the paint.

“I was really glad Ryan got some recognition because he made a lot of sacrifices for us and was never a guy who cared about his stats,” Viuhkola said.

He was one of the squad's most versatile players with 3-point range and a quick first step. Shearmire has signed to play collegiately for the University of Chicago.



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