The West Linn boys basketball team believes it will be among the state’s best in ’22-23
The Lions are ready to roar.
Or they will be once they heal and integrate several new faces.
In any case, by the time it counts most, the West Linn boys basketball team should be really, really good.
The Lions, led by Oregon commit Jackson Shelstad (a 6-foot senior guard who was named Three Rivers League Player of the Year in 2022), finished second in the Three Rivers League a year ago, advanced to the Class 6A state tournament and finished third there.
Now, with the addition of Adrian Mosley (a 6-2 senior guard who was named Portland Interscholastic League Player of the Year at Grant before transferring to West Linn) and the eventual return of Mark Hamper (a 6-3 senior forward and second-team all-leaguer who’s healing from a football injury), the Lions may be even better.
Subscribe to Miles Vance Sports Journal
To subscribe to MVSJ,
“Anyone on my varsity team could start at most schools,” said West Linn coach Robert Key, who takes the Lions’ reins this season after eight years (including the 2018 state championship) at Grant. “Pretty good group of talented young men. (But) this season will be a big challenge. My job is to have everyone on the same page with no distractions and understanding less is more.”
The trio of Shelstad, Mosley and Hamper should go a long way to helping Key achieve his aims and the Lions reach their highest goals.
Shelstad “is our captain he will bring lots of attention. He will have lots of support, so you can’t try to just stop him,” Key said, adding that Hamper “is our anchor, with a big upside offensively and defensively,” while Mosley brings “athletic ability, and his defense will be big for us and being a play maker.”
While the Lions are battling injuries to several players — four of its varsity players missed the team’s season opener — there’s plenty of talent and experience back from a year ago, along with some exciting newcomers.
Returning varsity players for the Lions include 6-4 senior guard Blake Oltmans (an honorable mention TRL pick in ’22), 6-2 senior guard Drake Gabel, 6-5 senior guard Max Juhala, 6-5 senior forward Jake Holmes, 5-9 senior guard Joey Bell, 6-2 senior guard Aiden Duea and 6-1 senior forward Luke Young.
The Lions will also be bolstered by the addition of 6-3 senior guard Sam Leavitt (a transfer from Westview), along with 5-10 junior guard Nick DiGuilio and 5-9 sophomore guard Jalen Snook.
“Right now, some players are battling injuries, (but) hopefully, they will be full strength by (the Les Schwab Invitational),” Key said. “(Our) role players will play a very significant role ’til others return — this is the deepest team I have had in my coaching career.”
That said, the Lions know there will be challenges ahead in the Three Rivers League race, a league that’s home to reigning TRL and Class 6A state champion Tualatin.
“Our league will be extremely tough,” Key added. “(But) I will have my team ready to compete for a league title, just like the other good coaches in our league.”
See the Lakeridge team preview by clicking here.
See the Lake Oswego team preview by clicking here.