West Linn boys race past Sherwood 79-44
To put it mildly, the West Linn boys basketball team did not enjoy its two-game, mid-January losing streak.
The Lions have done their best since then to put that mini-skid in the rearview mirror, whacking Sherwood 79-44 at Sherwood High School on Friday, Jan. 19, for their second straight win.
"We knew that … we hadn't been playing good the past few games, so we had to come out with energy and play defense and that's what we did," said West Linn sophomore guard Micah Garrett, who finished with 16 points on Friday night.
"We just had to focus on bringing the energy early," added West Linn senior wing Jalen Thompson, who added 22 points in the victory. "This was a perfect game to challenge ourselves with that and we have to do that every game, bring the energy early."
With the win, the sixth-ranked Lions improved to 5-1 in the Three Rivers League — good for a first-place tie with Lake Oswego and Tigard — and 9-6 overall. No. 28 Sherwood, meanwhile, lost for the third time in its past five games and fell to 3-3 in TRL play — good for fifth place — and 10-6 overall.
As to that early energy Thompson mentioned, the Lions definitely brought it, racing out to a 10-point lead just 3 minutes and 46 into the contest. During that early stretch, it was Thompson and Garrett who carried the load, with Garrett scoring on a lob from Drayton Caoile and burying a 3-pointer, while Thompson hit a "three," knocked down two foul shots, then made a steal and scored on the fast break for a 14-4 lead with 4:14 remaining in the opening quarter.
That said, the Bowmen hung in there, settled themselves and put together a 7-1 run over the next 2:19 to close within 15-11. Sherwood senior Jace Sucher started that stretch with an inside hoop, junior Tyler Hix followed with a 3-pointer off an Owen Grubbe assist, and sophomore Jamison Guerra tacked on two foul shots to bring his team within four points with 1:55 to go in the opening period.
That, however, marked the end of the Bowmen's highlight reel. Over the next 9:41, the Lions took off on a 31-7 scoring run that boosted their lead to 46-18 late in the first half.
West Linn knocked down 10 of 13 shots during that run, with Thompson pouring in 12 points (Including two more "threes") during that stretch, senior Keishon Dawkins heating up for seven of his game-high 24 points, Ahmir McGee adding four, and Cade Knutson and Logan Maly both hitting 3-pointers of their own.
In that same stretch, the Bowmen were held to just 2 of 15 shooting from the floor — those baskets from Guerra and Grubbe — and 3 of 4 free throws while committing five turnovers as the Lions' lead ballooned to 46-19 at the half.
"(It was just) defense and working together as a team," Garrett said. "Making the extra pass and moving the ball around so everyone gets the ball. When we play like that, that's when we play great."
The Lions then added a 28-18 scoring edge in the third quarter to put the game even further out of reach at 74-37, with Dawkins pouring in 14 points (12 of those on four 3-pointers) and Garrett adding another nine.
Sherwood, meanwhile, got eight third-period points from Guerra (including a "three"), four points by Sucher and 3-pointers by both Grubbe and Nick Koronko.
Now, with eight TRL games left, the Lions are focused on what's ahead and what it will take to get where they want to go.
"It's defense," Thompson added. "That's it."
Guerra led Sherwood with 13 points, Grubbe had 10 and Sucher seven in the loss.
Next up, West Linn plays at Newberg at 7:15 p.m. Friday and at Tigard at 7 p.m. Jan. 30, while Sherwood plays at Tualatin at 7:15 p.m. Friday and at Canby at 7 p.m. Jan. 30.