West Linn opens Les Schwab tournament with big win over Oregon City
It all seemed to be going wrong for the West Linn boys basketball team at the start of its opening game in the 2017 Les Schwab Invitational on Wednesday.
The Lions, facing Oregon City at Liberty High School, fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter and still trailed by six early in the third.
But there's no panic in this year's West Linn team. No panic and a ton of talent.
West Linn closed the game with a devastating 46-15 run over the game's final 14 minutes, 27 seconds and used that outburst to fuel its 77-52 victory.
"We started off bad. We knew we were playing bad," said West Linn senior wing Jalen Thompson, who finished with seven points and four rebounds, along with effective second-half defense against Oregon City star Teron Bradford. "But we weren't freaking out in our heads. We definitely came together in the second half and moved the ball more, played together better."
"The first half was rough for us," added senior post Keishon Dawkins, who led his team with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win. "We weren't hitting, we were doing a lot of one-on-one (and) we weren't moving the ball around. But then we came in and talked together and communicated with each other and then we came out and moved the ball around, got layups, (three-pointers) and everything. We just connected."
Oregon City went on to lose to South Eugene on Thursday and beat Lakeridge on Friday to take its season record to 4-3. For more on West Linn's other games, see the accompanying stories.
"We're pretty disappointed in having a six-point lead in the third quarter and watching it evaporate," said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. "We can't make the kind of mistakes we were making and beat a team like that. You've got to be consistent for 32 minutes and we were consistent for 18 minutes or 20 minutes and that's the difference."
As to the Pioneers' hot start, much of it was built on their deadly shooting and tough defense at the game's outset. While West Linn started slowly — the Lions hit just two of their first five shots and turned the ball over once on their first six possessions — Oregon City was on fire.
Trevor Sheldon scored inside to get things started, Tyler Quinsey followed with a second straight inside hoop and Bradford followed with a three-pointer to make it 7-0 just 1:20 into the game.
West Linn got on the scoreboard with a Dawkins basket and — after a three-pointer by Oregon City's Corban Remsburg — a "three" from Drayton Caoile to close within 10-5, but the Pioneers stayed hot. Bradford added another long three-pointer and Quinsey tacked on his second basket to give the Pioneers their biggest lead of the game at 15-5 with 4:45 to go in the first quarter.
The Lions, however, gave notice that they would not go away easily. They came back with a 13-0 run over a span of 2:41, getting two hoops from Dawkins, a "three" from Micah Garrett and taking their first lead at 18-15 on a Caoile layin with 1:28 left in the period.
The two teams rolled into the second quarter tied at 20-20 and continued the battle there, forging three ties and trading the lead seven times in the period. Quinsey and Bradford did all the damage on the offensive end for the Pioneers, with Quinsey hitting three of four shots from the floor and five of six free throws to score 11 of his 15 points. Bradford added six more points to give his team a 33-31 lead at the half.
On their end, the Lions stayed close with their long-range shooting, getting two three-pointers from Crockett and another from Garrett.
Then, at the start of the third period, the Pioneers got early baskets from Remsburg and Quinsey to push ahead 37-31 with 6:43 left in the frame. But that was the end of the offensive fireworks for the Pioneers. They went just 2 for 5 in the final 5:19 of the period and turned the ball over three times while the Lions took off.
West Linn closed the period on a 17-7 run highlighted by six Dawkins points and two baskets from Damiko Tidmore Jr. to lead 48-43 at the end of the quarter.
The Lions then put the game out of reach with a dominating 29-9 edge in the fourth quarter that left the Pioneers behind. While Oregon City went just 3 of 15 from the field (and just 2 of 7 from the foul line) in the final period, the Lions pulled away thanks to three more baskets from Dawkins, a pair of Crockett "threes," and five more points from Thompson.
"Congratulations to them — they hit almost every shot they took (early)," Dawkins added. "But we were focused. We were fine. We knew we were going to come back and get this. We just had to be patient and take care of everything."
"You can see that their individual talent can overwhelm an opponent really quickly if you're not paying attention," Newkirk said. "You saw that in the fourth quarter — they've got 10 guys who can shoot the basketball and that was on display tonight."
For the game, Bradford finished with a game-high 21 points on 7 of 18 shooting from the field (including four three-pointers) and eight rebounds, Quinsey added 15 points and six rebounds, and Remsburg had nine points, three rebounds and three assists.
For West Linn, Crockett added 14 points (including a 4 of 4 day from three-point range) and five rebounds, Garrett added 11 points, and Caoile had nine points and six assists.