Throughout the season, the West Linn Lions dominated Class 6A men’s basketball, going undefeated against competition from Oregon. Three of those wins have come against the Tualatin Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves got their ultimate revenge in Saturday’s championship game at a sold-out Chiles Center, taking an 11-point first-quarter lead and never trailing in an upset 60-47 win to claim their second championship. Consecutive state.
Tualatin held West Linn scoreless for the first 6:39 of the game and led 12-1 for a quarter. In Friday’s semifinal victory over Lincoln, West Linn scored 17 points in the first four minutes.
“It gave us confidence right away,” said Tualatin first-year coach Bubba Lemon, who was an assistant in last year’s 66-49 win over Summit in the title game. “That was probably the lowest first quarter they’ve ever had. A point is unheard of.
Lemon said the championship was “amazing”.
“I’m so grateful,” he said, struggling to find the right words. “I thank God for that, I’m so blessed with the players we have.”
The shocked Lions tried to shake off the nightmarish start, but never seriously threatened to take control of the game.
Tualatin senior Josiah Lake, the only returning starter from last year, scored 20 points to lead Tualatin (24-5), who had come close to beating West Linn in two of their previous meetings. Junior Jaden Steppe had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and junior Jayden Fortier topped the paint with nine points and 15 rebounds.
Tualatin came off flying and scored the game’s first 10 points as West Linn faltered.
The Lions finally scored their first point on a Sam Leavitt free throw with 1:21 left in the first quarter. West Linn missed all 10 shots he took in the quarter.
Nick DiGiulio hit West Linn’s first field goal 15 seconds into the second quarter. West Linn got under five shortly after, but the Timberwolves responded with seven straight points as Steppe began to find his shot.
Jack Wagner, who scored eight, hit a three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give Tualatin a 30-16 lead. The advantage increased to 19 in the third quarter as the Lions began to rush down the offensive end, but West Linn tied in to make a final push.
The Lions trailed 50-42 with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter and had the ball, but Lake stole a cross pass and sailed unchallenged to the other end for a two-handed slam, putting the punctuation mark on the back. – rear state titles.
Lake went 12 for 16 from the foul line, salting the game away from the boards.
“He’s so laid back,” Lemon said of his point guard. “I wouldn’t want the ball to be in anyone else’s hands at that time.”
“We made some big plays to start the game,” Lake said. “Our defense was really solid.”
When asked if he thought the Timberwolves surprised the Lions, Lake said yes:
“Oh yeah,” he said. “We had them hot on their heels for sure. We said before the game that we lost three to them, but that was the one that mattered, and we did.
Steppe, who made nine of 23 shots, said the Timberwolves “wanted more.”
“I could see it in their eyes, they were happy,” he continued. “They won the (Les Schwab Invitational), they were happy. We weren’t and we were ready to win.
A 6-foot-8 junior, Steppe oozes with a confidence that might be viewed from the outside as bordering on arrogance, but he says it all comes down to his passion for the sport:
“If you grow up loving the game and you work hard enough, how could you have any doubts? It comes from that hard work and trusting your teammates.
Fortier said he was challenged before the game by Lemon to grab 15 rebounds and hit the number right. West Linn had been the physical aggressor all season against bigger teams, but not on Saturday.
“I know they’re physical and my goal was to come in and be that force, smash the offensive and defensive boards and have the best energy possible,” Fortier said. “To lose four starters from last year, to lose to West Linn in football and three times in hoops, to get this championship means the world.”
Senior Jackson Shelstad, who will play at Oregon next season, was spectacular in his last high school game for West Linn (28-2), but didn’t get enough help from his teammates. Shelstad scored 24 points on 11-for-20 shooting, but the rest of the Lions were 9-for-30. West Linn made just two three-pointers in 19 attempts, with Shelstad missing all seven of their tries.
Junior Max Juhala was West Linn’s second top scorer with seven points despite playing just 11 minutes. Senior starters Adrian Mosley, Drake Gabel, Mark Hamper and Adrian Mosley combined to score four field goals and score 12 points.
“We had looks, we just couldn’t convert,” West Linn coach Robert Key said. “I always tell the kids that the game is races and we’re going to have a race, but we never got over the hump.”
Saturday was a stunning ending for West Linn, who beat nationally ranked Sierra Canyon and Duncanville to win the Les Schwab Invitational in December. Although they had a few close calls the rest of the season, including two narrow wins over Tualatin and a quarter-final against Central Catholic, the Lions seemed destined to cut the nets. West Linn came close to becoming the defending champion in men’s baseball, football and basketball.
“I’m just in shock because of the caliber of the team we have and the players we have, I just didn’t see it coming,” Key admitted. “Especially when I looked up and saw their 12-1 lead, I was caught off guard.”
Key is no stranger to the feat Tualatin pulled off. In 2018, Key’s Grant defeated Jefferson in the championship game after losing all three regular season meetings.
“It’s a reality now,” Key said. “It was something I didn’t want to think about. But you can say that Tualatin came out with a desire not to go down four times. They probably got all the balls 50-50 and converted a lot of plays and Steppe was big.
Game for third place
Moroni Seely-Roberts had 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists as No. 4 Lincoln shot 56% from the field and routed No. 2 Barlow 94-74 to claim the third-place trophy .
Malachi Seely-Roberts added 20 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for Lincoln (25-5). Graham Eikenberry contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds
Jalen Atkins led Barlow (25-5) with 28 points, while Mason Bierbrauer had 18.
The game had a loose feel from the start as both teams played a free and fast style. Barlow led 22-21 after one quarter and pushed the lead to nine in the second quarter before the Cardinals took over. Lincoln finished the first half on a 14-4 run to lead 44-43 at halftime, then started the third quarter with a 16-4 surge to extend the lead to 13.
Lincoln ran away in the fourth quarter and led by a whopping 22 in the final stretch. The 94 points were a season high for the Cardinals. Lincoln previously beat Barlow 71-60 on January 16.