West Linn rallies from a big deficit cut comes up just short in the final minutes

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Courtney Landis makes a pass in the second half of West Linn's loss to Beaverton on Tuesday. The West Linn girls basketball team fell to Beaverton 59-54 on Tuesday in a game that gave coach Glen Lee plenty of reason for optimism.

Last year, Beaverton drubbed the Lions 62-41 in the preseason as the Lions were still searching for an identity.

This season, that sentiment is true again with the team returning just one starter and a handful of role players but Lee was pleased with how his team battled back from multiple double-digit deficits to get within one possession in the fourth quarter.

“This game gave me a bit of insight as to what's in the gut of this team,” Lee said.

West Linn got off to a slow start against the quick and athletic Beavers. Beaverton put on a full-court press and the Lions made a handful of early mistakes and Beaverton took advantage.

The Beavers scored 19 points in the first quarter and got to the basket, building a 19-12 lead.

“We mad some youthful plays, a lot of them were unforced that we have to clean up,” Lee said.

Turnovers continued to hurt the Lions in the second quarter as Beaverton built its lead and appeared ready to turn the game into another rout with a 39-24 halftime advantage.

West Linn made a concerted effort to slow down Beaverton's Alexis Montgomery but the rest of her team stepped up. Nine different players scored for the Beavers, who executed with efficiency on offense for most of the night.

But the Lions didn't roll over in the second half. West Linn slowly started to cut into the lead, getting solid outside shooting from Ashley Johnson, who hit a trio of three-pointers in the game and finished with a game-high 19 points.

Courtney Landis also came on in the second half to settle the offense down and ended with four assists.

West Linn cut the lead to 49-39 with one quarter to play and continue to claw its way back into contention.

Morgan Haskin gave West Linn a strong post presence in the game and hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to four points midway through the quarter. But Montgomery answered with a deep, momentum-changing three-pointer.

Montgomery would later his a running floater off the backboard to keep the Lions at bay.

“She's a four-year varsity player and she's a gamer. That shot she hit off the backboard was one where you just say 'you've got to be kidding,'” Lee said.

However, in the closing minutes of play, West Linn's Sidney Kolasinski knocked down a three-pointer from the corner to make it a three-point game.

But that was as close as the Lions would get. Beaverton hit a pair of free throws and the Lions struggled to get off a good shot on their last two possessions.

The loss follows a convincing 68-32 victory over Wilson last week.

West Linn dominated the paint in the game, pulling down 15 offensive rebounds in the contest. Genna Hughes led three players in double figures with 18 points, going 8-for-9 from the field.

“They were undersized and we executed really well. Everyone played well for us,” Lee said.

The Lions will now gear up for a rematch with Tigard on Friday.

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