West Linn boys routed by Rainier Beach in MLK Invitational
The West Linn boys basketball team is walking in uncharted territory.
Uncharted and unwelcome.
The Lions, who saw their 37-game Three Rivers League winning streak end in a 70-63 loss to Tualatin Friday, dropped their second straight game on Monday, falling 83-53 to Washington power Rainier Beach in the MLK Invitational at Lewis & Clark College.
While disappointed with those results, the Lions insisted that they will come back strong and still be among the state's best teams by year's end.
"Friday happened, and then we played a good team," explained junior point guard Drayton Caoile, who finished with seven points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal in the loss to Rainier Beach. "After these two, we are going to come closer, we're going to go harder and I wouldn't count us out after this loss."
Senior post Keishon Dawkins agreed, and explained that West Linn's willingness to play great competition was part of its recent results.
"Everyone who's saying that, they don't play teams like this," said Dawkins, who led his team with 16 points and five rebounds against Rainier Beach. "They just play teams in Oregon and they like to go the easy way. But we're out here playing teams from Kentucky, we're going to (the Les Schwab Invitational) … and out here playing Rainier Beach. They ain't playing teams like that so they can go fly a kite."
While West Linn's back-to-back losses were painful for the Lions, they weren't unprecedented. West Linn dropped two straight in the 2016 Les Schwab Invitational, and during the team's four-year state title streak, the Lions also lost back-to-back games in both 2013 and '15.
That said, Monday's loss to talented Rainier Beach was difficult. The Vikings — led by Kevin Porter's 31 points and six rebounds — raced out to a 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, then dropped a 25-6 margin on the Lions in the second period that extended their lead to 42-16 at the half.
Rainier Beach hit 11 of its first 12 shots in the period, and got seven points each — including two big dunks — from Porter and Micah Monroe in the stanza. At the same time, the Lions hit just 2 of 12 shots from the floor and turned the ball over six times.
"I don't think we came out with the fight and we didn't take pride in our defense and we didn't come out ready to play," Caoile said.
"They played more physical and more aggressive and with a lot more energy," Dawkins said. "It kind of stunned a lot of our guys at first."
Rainier Beach extended its lead to 46-18 when Freddie Robertson hit a hanging jumpshot in the key 51 seconds into the third quarter, but the Lions began to respond after that.
West Linn put together a 10-2 stretch over the next three minutes to cut the Vikings' lead to 48-28, getting two Dawkins baskets in that run as well as two points each from Bryson Crockett, Jalen Thompson and Micah Garrett.
Rainier Beach, however, made sure West Linn got no closer. The Vikings — who also got 16 points from Tre Anderson and nine from Kenneth Curtis — responded with a 16-5 run to close out the third quarter and rolled home to victory from there.
"It's a normal basketball game. They're high school players, we're high school players — ain't nothing different," Dawkins said. "If we would have played like that in the first half, I think the game would have been a lot different."
"We were just trying to cut it down to at least 15 points," Caoile said. "At first, we were just trying to get everyone involved and then we were just trying to get started keep it going."
Thompson added eight points and four rebounds in the win, and Crockett seven points. For the game, Rainier Beach hit 56 percent of its shots from the field and 11 of 21 3-pointers, while West Linn made 37 percent of its shots, including just 1 of 19 3-pointers.
Next up, the Lions host Lakeridge at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, then play at Sherwood at 7:15 p.m. Friday.