West Linn pushes Mater Dei to the end in 71-59 loss
Mater Dei came out and punched the West Linn boys basketball team in the mouth on Dec. 28.
The Lions answered with a haymaker of their own, knocking the Monarchs — ranked 15th in the country by ESPN — back on their heels in the quarterfinals of the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School.
In the end, though, Mater Dei emerged with a solid decision, winning 71-59 to secure a berth in the LSI semifinals.
"I was very confident when we went into halftime and we had a good third quarter, too," said West Linn junior point guard Drayton Caoile, who finished with 14 points and seven assists. "But then there were some bad calls and we turned the ball over a lot and that didn't go in our favor."
"We were leaving them open for 'threes' and they were hitting shots," explained sophomore Micah Garrett, who led his team with 15 points and added three rebounds. "Our defense was just lacking. I think defense was the key."
As to that early Mater Dei punch, most of it was provided by 6-foot-10 senior Michael Wang (he finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals). While the Lions went just 3 of 11 from the floor in the first quarter, Wang knocked down 4 of 7 shots in the frame (including one three-pointer) and scored 11 points as his team grabbed a 19-7 lead.
The Lions, however, settled themselves in the second quarter, got Wang under control (he missed his first seven shots of the quarter and scored just two points in the frame) and got back into the game.
West Linn put together a 24-9 run against the Monarchs over a span of 5 minutes, 53 seconds, getting eight points from Keishon Dawkins, a pair of Garrett three-pointers, six points from Caoile and five straight from Jalen Thompson to grab a 31-28 lead with 1:07 left in the period.
Garrett then added two more "threes" and a pair of free throws in the first 2:56 of the third quarter, his second three-pointer giving the Lions a 41-34 edge.
"We just moved the ball around, passed and cut," Garrett said. "Our coach told us to stop panicking with the ball and just pass, cut and fill — simple offense."
"We were getting stops, we were getting rebounds, and on offense, we were passing and moving the ball," Caoile explained. "Mostly, the stops were helping us increase the lead."
But Mater Dei responded impressively, closing the quarter with a 19-6 stretch that gave the Monarchs a 53-47 edge heading into the fourth quarter. That run — which coincided with Dawkins' third personal foul — was highlighted by a Wang dunk and nine points in the quarter, and another five points (including a three-pointer) by Reagan Lundeen.
The Lions edged back within 55-50 on three Caoile foul shots early in the fourth quarter, but got no closer the rest of the way. From there, the Monarchs outscored the Lions 16-9 to pull away, with Harrison Butler scoring six points down the stretch for the win.
"I think we just struggled in some parts," Caoile added. "We got our run and they got theirs. They are definitely good for us to play right now but I wanted to be in the semis for Les Schwab."
For the game, Butler added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Lundeen scored 13 points. For West Linn, Dawkins finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.