Southridge leads by seven in the second half, but can't hold on

BEAVERTON — Southridge and West Linn’s boys basketball teams turned their Tuesday night contest into a real prizefight.

The Lions connected with the first shots in their non-league game at Southridge High School, saw the Skyhawks counterpunch effectively in the second and third quarters, but at the end of the game, it was West Linn that landed the haymaker that counted MILES VANCE - SOAR AND SCORE - Southridge junior point guard AJ Monterossi flies to the basket to score during his team's 62-58 non-league home loss against West Linn on Tuesday night.

With the score tied 58-58 in the game’s final minute, the Lions attacked the basket, got to the free throw line and made four straight from the foul line in the last four seconds to pull away. The loss dropped Southridge’s 2012-13 record to 2-2, while the Lions improved to 2-1.

“We had our plays designed and we got what we wanted,” said Southridge senior wing Caleb Herzberg, who finished with 13 points against the Lions. “We just didn’t finish at the end.”

“I think we just need to learn to have the poise to know when to slow it down,” added junior guard AJ Monterossi, who paced the Skyhawks with 16 points. “Sometimes we hang our heads on the bad stuff, but when your team picks you up, you just get after it on the next possession.”

The Lions hit the ground running in Tuesday night’s first quarter, and sophomore Anthony Mathis did most of the damage for West Linn there, hitting 4-of-6 shots from the floor (including one three-pointer) and 2-of-3 free throws to score 11 of his 13 points and pace West Linn to an 18-7 lead with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining in the period.

As bad as that first quarter was for Southridge, the rest of the first half was just as bad for West Linn. The Skyhawks got a late three-pointer from David Kim at the end of the first quarter, then started the second frame on a 9-1 run, getting a “three” from Herzberg, two hoops in the lane from Monterossi, and a fast break basket by Kevin McClean to tie the game at 19-19 with 5:29 to go in the half.

The Lions fought back with three points each by Hayden Coppedge and Ryan Shearmire, and a spinning basket in the lane from Ty Cleland to push their lead back to 27-21 with two minutes remaining in the half. But Monterossi answered with two foul shots and a hanging shot in the lane to cut the Skyhawks’ deficit to just 27-25 at the half.

Southridge took over in the third quarter with a 20-11 run fueled by Herzberg and Caleb Dozier, with Herzberg drilling an early “three,” then adding two free throws and a jumpshot following a technical foul on Mathis. Dozier added five points in just over a minute, and Gritt Christensen hit in the lane to lift the Skyhawk lead to 45-38 with 1:28 to go in the period.

But the Lions closed the third with a Coppedge jumpshot and a Shearmire “three,” then opened the fourth with a 12-4 run that included five points each from Shearmire and Coppedge and resulted in a 55-51 West Linn lead.

Southridge came back to tie the game at 55-55 on a McClean fast break hoop set up by Justin Calo with 2:45 to go, but after the two teams traded “threes” by Coppedge and Dozier, Southridge was done. The Skyhawks missed three times and turned the ball over once on their final four possessions, while the Lions set up Shearmire on the left baseline where he was fouled and made two free throws. Coppedge followed with two more foul shots six seconds later to seal the win.

Despite the day’s final score, Southridge was nonetheless convinced that good things are ahead in 2012-13.

“We didn’t get the win at the end, but I’m proud of my team and where we’re at,” Herzberg said. “I think we’ll have a really good year in league.”

“Our team is really good in transition and we really like to push the ball,” Monterossi said. “I think that’s what makes our team stand out from others.”

For the game, Monterossi went 7-for-18 from the field and hit both his free throws as well as handing out four assists, while Herzberg went 4-for-11 (including three “threes”) and made both his foul shots.

For West Linn, Coppedge hit 7-of-15 from the floor (including two “threes”) and 5-of-6 foul shots for a game-high 21 points, while Shearmire went 5-of-13 from the field (with one “three”) and made 7-of-10 foul shots for 18 more.

In upcoming games, Southridge hosts Tualatin at 7:15 p.m. Friday night, then plays on the road at Parkrose at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

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