The Lions make the little plays when they have to to beat Central Catholic 49-45.
The 2023 West Linn boys basketball team is known for many things.
Jackson Shelstad’s unbelievable scoring outbursts.
Adrian Mosley’s mid-range play and incredible ability to challenge taller players.
Its unparalleled ball movement and ability to score, eclipsing 80 points eight times this year, surpassing 90 twice and 100 once.
But the Lions are more than that, and they proved it in their Class 6A state tournament opener.
There, leading Central Catholic by just one point in the fourth period of their 6A quarterfinal at the Chiles Center on Thursday, March 9, West Linn showed what else it is.
The Lions showed their grit, their toughness, their work ethic and their ability to make the small plays that win big games. And that’s just what they did on Thursday, beating the Rams 49-45 to advance to the state semifinals where the Lions will face No. 4 Lincoln at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 10.
“We have a bunch of seniors and leaders so we were just out there doing the dirty work, trying to get the win,” said West Linn senior wing Sam Leavitt, who didn’t score against Central Catholic but grabbed six rebounds, blocked four shots and had one assist. “We weren’t playing the cleanest game of basketball so anything I can do to help the team win, I’ll just try to do.”
“(Mark Hamper, Sam Leavitt and Adrian Mosley) played their tails off in that second half,” Shelstad said. “They saved us on a lot of possessions. … They won us that game. Just getting some extra offensive rebounds, diving on the floor — all the little stuff. They’re just tough kids.”
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• Read more on this game here: Adrian Mosley lifts Lions down the stretch
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• To see photos from all of this year’s West Linn boys basketball coverage, click here.
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Here are some of the Lions’ fourth-quarter highlights that didn’t make it into the day’s headlines, but helped them advance and keep their state title hopes alive.
• With the Lions leading just 38-37 early in the fourth quarter, Leavitt pressured Central junior Miles Berry as he attempted to inbound the ball near half court, forcing a five-second call and a turnover.
• West Linn pushed ahead 40-37 when Shelstad pushed the ball down the left side of the court, nearly lost control of it and made a low pass to Mosley near the basket. Mosley scooped the ball off the court, stepped past a Central Catholic defender in stride and hit a reverse layin with 5:49 left to play.
• After Mosley turned in a three-point play that extended the Lions’ lead to 43-39 with 4:19 to go, West Linn forced a missed shot by Rams senior Gray Thompson, but looked like they’d lose the rebound out of bounds. Hamper made sure that didn’t happen, though, jumping over the end line to grab the ball and throw it back in bounds to a teammate that help set the table for their team’s next score.
• There was more excitement to come before that next score, however, with Shelstad accelerating up the court and throwing a long lob pass aimed at Leavitt. But Shelstad’s pass sailed high — and was apparently headed out of bounds — before Leavitt rose up, snared the ball with one hand and came down with his foot just off the end line.
That kept the possession alive, and to end it, Mosley powered over Berry to score inside, boosted his team’s lead to 45-39 and essentially put the game out of reach with 2:22 left to play.
Read more on this game here: West Linn shows toughness down the stretch
To buy prints or digital downloads from this contest, go to milesvance.smugmug.com.