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Never a doubt!

West Linn wins its second straight boys basketball state title, topping Sheldon 67-56 Saturday


by: VERN UYETAKE - The West Linn boys basketball team mobs each other on the floor of the Moda Center after winning it second straight state championship.Where do you start when describing the West Linn boys basketball team's season? The Lions, ranked No. 1 in the state from the beginning of the year, ran the table against 6A opponents, won the school's third state title in the sport and became just the fourth team in Oregon history to win the big school title in consecutive years.

West Linn knocked off No. 7 Sheldon 67-56 Saturday at the Moda Center putting a cap on perhaps the most impressive season in school history.

While the Lions were the plucky underdogs last year and bested their three tournament opponents by a combined six points, West Linn was the overwhelming favorite this year with four starters returning for a chance to repeat.

Still, that's often a difficult position to be in. Just ask Lake Oswego last year.

But West Linn was calm and under control from start to finish this season, winning every one of its playoff games by double digits.

The Lions were ice cold to start the state title game, missing their first six shots from the field, including their first two 3-pointers and West Linn trailed 13-8 after the opening quarter.

However, the Lions would go 8-for-12 from behind the arc for the remainder of the half.

Payton Pritchard and Hayden Coppedge would hit back-to-back 3s early in the second quarter to tie the game and the Lions never trailed again. West Linn closed the half on a 7-0 run, getting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Kevin Edwards to lead 31-24 at the break.

Sheldon would chip away in the third quarter, getting the lead down to four points, but a floater from Ty Cleland and a pretty 3-point play by Pritchard answered the run.

The Lions led by 10 points with one quarter left. West Linn was terrific finishing off the game, eating up the clock and getting to the foul line. Sheldon never got closer than eight points. The Lions' first state basketball championship also came against Sheldon in 1997.

Pritchard and Anthony Mathis each had 21 points and Pritchard added 10 assists. Both players were unanimous first-team all-tournament selections and will return next season.

Check out this Thursday's West Linn Tidings for complete coverage of the Lions' state championship run.




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