West Linn now finishes the regular season with a pair of crucial tilts

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn's Morgan Haskin rips down one of her 14 rebounds in West Linn's hard-fought win over Lake Oswego at home Tuesday. The West Linn girls took care of business against Lakeridge and Lake Oswego and moved a step closer to clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Lions used stingy defense to seal both victories but had some difficulty Tuesday in its 40-26 win over Lake Oswego.

West Linn had one of its poorest shooting nights of the year against the Lakers, who are winless in league, and didn't pull away until late in the third quarter.

Fortunately, a monster night from post Morgan Haskin gave the Lions all the boost they would need.

West Linn was 9-for-37 from the field in the first half and got the bulk of its points from offensive rebounds.

Haskin had eight points and six rebounds alone in the first quarter and helped the Lions build an early 10-2 advantage.

Lake Oswego looked to deny the ball inside and the Lions relied heavily on jump shots, which simply weren't falling.

After the Lakers cut it to 10-7 early in the second period, Sidney Kolasinski answered with a 3-pointer. She would also knock down a free throw later in the period and those four points would be the only ones scored by a West Linn guard in the first half.

“We weren't patient in the first half and we talked about it and adjusted,” coach Lisa Griffith said.

The Lions continued to own the glass. Freshman Kennedy Fulcher had seven rebounds alone in the second quarter and, for the game, West Linn won the rebounding battle by an astounding 47-21 margin.

Still, West Linn only led 20-12 at the half. The Lions had four early turnovers in the third quarter and Lake Oswego was able to trim the deficit to 20-16. The young Laker team, which started four freshmen, steadily started to gain confidence but the Lions quickly answered with a 7-0 run.

Kolasinski knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter and, after giving up a pair of early buckets, the Lions shut out the Lakers for the remainder of the quarter.

Haskin gave up nothing in the paint as Lake Oswego continued to test her. Haskin had five of her nine blocks in the third quarter as West Linn went up 30-16.

“Morgan was unstoppable inside. She plays very intelligent and patient defense,” Griffith said.

The Lions finally started to knock a few shots down and the Lakers simply didn't have enough firepower on offense to threaten the lead again.

For the game, Haskin finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks. Kolasinski had 10 points and five steals.

West Linn's defense was perhaps even more dominant Friday against Lakeridge. West Linn exploited the undersized Pacers and only gave up six points total in the first half.

The Lions forced a glut of turnovers in the game and raced out to a 17-5 lead after the first quarter. West Linn continued to extend its advantage in the second quarter, giving up just one stray free throw in eight minutes. The Lions missed a handful of shots close to the basket and could have been up by an even more lopsided margin.

Still, a pair of 3-pointers from Courtney Landis and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Ashley Johnson made it 30-6 at the break.

“We know that defense wins championships and that always has to be there even when the offense isn't,” Griffith said.

The Lions weren't threatened in the second half. Haskin patrolled the paint defensively and Kolasinski did a nice job controlling the offense, getting three quick assists for easy buckets.

West Linn led by 30 after the third quarter and cruised to a win. Haskin and Johnson each finished with 14 points.

The Lions currently sit at No. 8 in the state and have games against Canby and Oregon City remaining. A win against either team will clinch a first-round bye for the Lions and wins against both would earn a share of the league title.

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