The Lions post a thrilling semifinal win, then beat St. John Bosco in the finale.
The West Linn boys basketball team is just six games into the 2022-23 season, but day by day and game by game, the Lions are clearing every hurdle put before them.
West Linn proved that in spades at the Capitol City Classic, winning four straight games to take the tourney title, including a 60-57 victory over previously unbeaten St. John Bosco in the championship game at Willamette University on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
“This group of young men’s basketball I.Q. top to bottom checks all the boxes,” said West Linn coach Robert Key. “They pay attention to detail on assignments and game plans which makes it better for the end result.”
Key also said that his team’s continually improving defense played a huge role in its success in Salem.
“Our zone defense was a huge key,” he said. “No baseline drives and box-out on missed shots.”
With their four straight wins in Salem, the top-ranked Lions improved to 6-0 for the 2022-23 season. Next up, the Lions will face Barlow at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26, in the first round of the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School.
”It’s extremely important to play top teams early to prepare us for league play and the end of the year playoffs,”” Key said “Each game had different adjustments we made to put us in position to win.”
West Linn 60, St. John Bosco 57
In the CCC finale, the Lions used a strong second half to beat the Braves of Bellflower, California, 60-57.
The Lions were led by senior guard Jackson Shelstad’s 24 points on 7 of 16 shooting with two 3-pointers and an 8 of 8 day at the free throw line, along with three assists, while senior guard Adrian Mosley had 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and eight blocks, and senior guard Sam Leavitt added 11 points and six rebounds.
After trailing 18-15 at the end of the first quarter and 26-25 at the half, the Lions pushed ahead 42-40 after three periods and extended their lead to eight in the fourth period, but the Braves fought back late.
St. John Bosco’s Xinyi Li made a 3-pointer that cut the West Linn lead to 58-57 in the final minute, but Shelstad made two foul shots for a 60-57 lead with six seconds left to play. Finally,with 3.6 seconds left on the clock, the Braves inbounded the ball, but missed a “three” from the right corner under heavy pressure.
For St. John Bosco, Kade Bonam had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, Elzie Harrington scored 15 points and added five rebounds and four assists, and Li had 13 points and three rebounds.
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The Lions got another huge test in their semifinal contest against Modesto Christian on Tuesday, Dec. 20, but powered to a 12-0 advantage in overtime to beat the Crusaders.
There was more to it than that, however. West Linn actually strung together 17 straight points to fuel its win, scoring five straight points to end the fourth quarter at 56-56 and force overtime. The Lions — led by Shelstad’s monster 35-point performance — then outscored Modesto Christian 12-0 in OT to secure their berth in the Capitol City Classic championship game.
Shelstad, an Oregon commit, knocked down 13 of 17 shots from the field, including two 3-pointers and a 7 of 8 day at the foul line, along with five rebounds and four steals. Mosley was solid, too, with 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field including two “threes,” while senior Mark Hamper added three points and five rebounds.
B.J. Davis led Modesto with 25 points, one rebound, two assists and one steal, while Jalen Brown added 16 points and two rebounds.
For the game, the Lions shot 59% from the field and forced 17 turnovers, while committing just eight TOs themselves.
After a slow start against the third-ranked Beavers — the Lions trailed 28-22 at halftime — West Linn took over in the second half.
The Lions took the lead during the third quarter when they outscored Beaverton 22-14, then pulled away with a devastating 20-6 fourth-quarter edge. After Beaverton shot 58% from the field in the first half, West Linn limited the Beavers to just 33% shooting in the second half.
Shelstad led the way with 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Leavitt had 20 points, four assists and two steals, and Mosley added 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.
Brady Rice led Beaverton with 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Max Elgram added 11 points and two rebounds.
West Linn started quickly in its tourney opener, then extinguished all South Salem hopes with a devastating 22-4 second quarter that set the table for the Lions’ 78-55 victory.
Shelstad poured in 33 points to lead all scorers, hitting 14 of 22 shots from the field including three 3-pointers and a 2 of 2 day at the foul line, along with seven rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. Mosley added 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals, and senior Drake Gabel added five rebounds.
Rylan Davidson led South with 12 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Teagan Scott added 11 points, two rebounds and three assists.