West Linn edges past Central Catholic 49-45, heads into Friday’s semifinal.
There was no 80-point outburst for the West Linn boys basketball team in its Class 6A state tournament opener.
Heck, the Lions didn’t even break 50.
There were no breakaway dunks, no 40-point highlight reels from senior Jackson Shelstad and no blowout.
There was, however, a “W,” and that was all that mattered.
West Linn shook off a slow start, a sub-par shooting performance and — finally — Central Catholic to win 49-45 in the state quarterfinals at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus on Thursday, March 9.
“We just came out really flat,” said Shelstad, who was selected as West Linn’s Player of the Game after scoring 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field including two 3-pointers and a 3 of 5 day at the foul line, along with five rebounds, two assists and one steal. “We can’t come out like that at the state tournament, but we got the win and we advanced, so at the end of the day, that’s what counts.”
“In any tournament, it’s just getting by — it’s not about it being ugly or clean,” said Lion senior wing Sam Leavitt, who didn’t score but grabbed six rebounds, blocked four shots and had one assist. “We just kind of said ‘Let’s flush this one, get past it and work on tomorrow.’”
“We just need to move more offensively and not just ball watch,” added WL senior guard Adrian Mosley, who led all scorers with 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field and a 7 of 8 day at the foul line, along with three rebounds and one block. “When we move as a team, we are firing on all cylinders and we’re a hard team to beat.”
With the win, the team’s 14th straight, top-ranked West Linn improved to 27-1 overall (the best in the state at any level) after winning the Three Rivers League. Next up, the Lions will face No. 4 Lincoln in the state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 10. The Cardinals earned their spot in the semi by beating No. 5 Gresham 60-59 on Thursday, winning for the fifth straight time and improving to 24-4 overall after winning the Portland Interscholastic League.
The ninth-ranked Rams, meanwhile, saw their four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 15-12 overall after placing third in the Mt. Hood Conference. Next up, Central Catholic will face Gresham in the consolation semifinals at 9 a.m. Friday.
Central Catholic sophomore Isaac Carr led the Rams with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field including four “threes,” along with five rebounds and one assist. Rams freshman Zamir Paschal added 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field and a 2 of 2 day at the line, along with four rebounds and one block. And CC junior Marley Zeller had eight points on 4 of 12 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds and one block.
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Neither team shot well early, with the Lions going 4 of 10 from the field in the first quarter, getting baskets from senior Drake Gabel, senior Mark Hamper and Shelstad, a “three” from junior Nick DiGuilio and a pair of Mosley foul shots.
Central, meanwhile, stayed within 11-10 at the end of the opening period on a pair of 3-pointers from Carr and two hoops from Zeller.
The Rams put together their best stretch of the game at the start of the second quarter, stitching together a 13-6 run over the first 4 minutes, 57 seconds of the period to grab a 23-17 lead — their biggest of the contest — when senior Gray Thompson took a Carr pass and buried a “three” from the left corner.
West Linn came back strong, scoring four straight points to end the second quarter, then re-took the lead at 31-29 when Shelstad rebounded a Mosley miss, scored in the air, was fouled and turned it into a three-point play with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter.
But nothing came easily in this game. The Rams pushed back ahead at 35-33 — their last lead of the game — when Carr scored on a left-handed drive with 2:23 left in the third quarter and trailed just 38-37 going into the fourth.
The Lions finally edged away there, though, with Mosley doing most of the damage. He collected nine of his 21 points in the final 5:49, scoring on the fast break off a Shelstad assist, hitting a turnaround in the key and turning it into a three-point play, powering over Rams junior Miles Berry to score inside, and finally, hitting a pair of foul shots with 34 seconds left on the clock.
Shelstad added 2 of 4 free throws in the final nine seconds to finally put the Rams away.
“Our offense was just kind of stagnant, but we had some good plays down the stretch,” Shelstad said. “I was confident the whole game that we were going to win it down the stretch. I wasn’t panicking and I knew the team wasn’t panicking.”
DiGiulio added six points and one rebound for West Linn, Hamper had three points, six rebounds, one assist and one block.
Read more on this game here: West Linn shows toughness down the stretch
Read more on this game here: Adrian Mosley lifts Lions down the stretch
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