Lions never trail and further establish themselves as the No. 1 team in the state

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Anthony Mathis led West Linn in scoring with 25 points in the team's victory over No. 2 Clackamas Tuesday. Mathis had 15 of those points in the first half.For the second time this year, West Linn's boys basketball team showed that the gap between the top-two ranked 6A teams in the state may be more of a chasm.

The Lions took a big step toward clinching the Three Rivers League title Tuesday, knocking off No. 2 Clackamas 80-61 on the road to stay unbeaten against 6A opponents this year.

The Lions remain firmly ranked No. 1 in the state and figure to be the top overall seed heading into the playoffs barring a collapse in their final four games.

West Linn never trailed in the game and was never really threatened in the second half of an emotional contest that featured three technical fouls, two of which were called against the Cavaliers.

The Lions opened with an 8-0 run to set the tone early. Anthony Mathis was all over the court for West Linn. He pestered the Cavaliers' guards and forced turnovers, turning a pair of steals into buckets on the other end, the second of which went for a big dunk.

“Clackamas has really good shooters so we had to play good all-around defense,” Mathis said.

West Linn out-hustled Clackamas early on as well with Hayden Coppedge pulling down three offensive rebounds in the first quarter.

West Linn led 25-12 after the opening period. Clackamas made its run at the Lions in the second quarter. The Cavaliers drew the third foul on Ryan Shearmire and opened the quarter on a 9-2 run, getting the deficit down to six points.

“We turned it over a few times and they hit some big shots,” Mathis said.

The Lions righted the ship and turned to Mathis for offense. Mathis had 15 of his game-high 25 points in the first half.

The lead was eight points at the first-half buzzer but Clackamas was whistled for a technical foul as the teams were filing into the locker room and Mathis drained both shots to make it 37-27.

The Lions jumped out on Clackamas again early in the third quarter, quickly building the lead up to 17 points.

The Cavaliers had one last run in them, getting a jolt from Markus Golder to narrow the gap to 11, prompting a timeout.

West Linn emerged from the break and got a 3-pointer from Shearmire followed by Clackamas' second technical foul to all but seal the game.

Clackamas never threatened the Lions in the fourth quarter as the Lions put the finishing touches on one of their better efforts of the season.

“We knew Clackamas was really good, obviously they're the No. 2 team in the state. This was maybe our most complete game this year,” Mathis said.

Shearmire finished the game with 17 points while Coppedge and Kevin Edwards each scored in the double figures.

West Linn will travel to Lakeridge Friday to take on a No. 10 Pacer team that should be much healthier this time around.

“We've just got to stay humble and keep doing what we've been doing. We're playing with a lot of confidence but we're still hungry,” Mathis said.

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