West Linns boys get four free throws in the final four seconds

by: MILES VANCE - West Linn's Ty Cleland tries to control the ball in West Linn's 62-58 non-league win at Southridge on Tuesday, moving the Lions to 2-1 on the year.West Linn and Southridge'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 most.

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.

“Last year, (defense) was kind of a weak point for us, but I think we're going to turn it up a lot,” said West Linn junior Hayden Coppedge, who led all scorers with 21 points. “I think tonight showed that.”

“We didn't play that great 'til the end when we kind of turned it on,” said Lion junior Ryan Shearmire, who added 18 points in the win. “But we know we can't be playing around in the first three quarters.”

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 Caleb Herzberg, two hoops in the lane from Aj Monterossi and a fast break hoop 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 from Coppedge and 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 and the Skyhawks trailed just 27-25 at the half.

Southridge took over in the third quarter with a 20-11 run fueled by Herzberg and Caleb Dozier, 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 each from Shearmire and Coppedge and resulted in a 55-51 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 and he was fouled and made two free throws. Coppedge then followed with two more foul shots six seconds later for the win.

“I knew I was going to make 'em,” Shearmire said of his late free throws. Freshman point guard Payton Pritchard “did a good job. He got knocked off his path but he drove to the basket and was strong.”

I think defensively we turned it on the second half and we didn't give up and we got more layins. We've been working on (defense) a lot.

For the game, Monterossi went 7-for-18 from the field and hit both his free throws for 16 points, as well as handing out four assists, while Herzberg went 4-for-11 (including three “threes”) and made both his foul shots for 13 points.

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

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