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The Pioneers lead early, build their edge and pull away to victory on Friday night

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Oregon City senior Lucas Hanson pulls up for a jumpshot during his team's 61-46 win over West Linn at Oregon City High School on Friday, Feb. 21.There are bumps in the road during every season.

And the West Linn boys basketball team hit a big one on Friday, Feb. 21.

The No. 6 Lions, playing No. 23 Oregon City in the twice-yearly Battle for the Bridge, fell behind early, fell further behind in the second and third quarters, and staggered to a 61-46 loss at Oregon City High School.

"This is a huge win for us," said Oregon City senior guard Lucas Hanson, who scored eight points (on 3 of 6 shooting from the field and a 2 of 4 day at the foul line), along with four assists, two rebounds and one steal. "We had trouble coming into the regular season — we lost all our games in the first round — but then we got back up. We just beat them."

"It means everything," said Oregon City senior guard Andre Best, who finished with 16 points (on 5 of 6 shooting from the field including four 3-pointers and a 2 of 3 day at the foul line), along with two assists, one steal and one rebound. "This rivalry has gone back years — the Battle for the Bridge — it's a big game. So to get this win for the OC community is big."

With the win — the team's second straight — the Pioneers (now 21st in the OSAA power rankings) improved to 3-7 in Three Rivers League play and 12-10 overall. West Linn (now ninth in the OSAA power rankings) saw its two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 8-3 in TRL play and 15-8 overall.

"We've just got to be tougher and we've got to play better together. It's as simple as that," said West Linn senior guard Kelton Herrick, who scored all four of his points in the game's final 2 minutes and 35 seconds, while adding one rebound and one steal.

"They just played harder and beat us," added West Linn sophomore post Mason VanBeenan, who finished with four points and two rebounds. "We need to learn that we are not the best and we still need to get better and play with a chip on our shoulder from this game."

Oregon City 61, West Linn 46

Oregon City started fast on Friday, got a pair of early 3-pointers from Best and four points each by Hanson and senior T.J. Warren to lead by as many as seven points in the first quarter. The Lions came back behind freshman guard Jackson Shelstad — he scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the first period, knocking down 5 of 6 shots in the period (including three 3-pointers) and trailing 19-15 after one period.

The Pioneers built their lead as high as 13 points twice in the second quarter — the last time at 34-21 when junior Gibsen Payne took a Jake Gettel pass and scored on the fast break — getting 3-pointers from junior Alex Newkirk, Best and Gettel in the frame.

West Linn edged back within 34-25 at the end of the quarter with back-to-back scores in the final 51 seconds, the first on a VanBeenan cut assisted by Shelstad and the second on a layin by senior Parker Durbin off a pass by senior Bryson Crockett with two seconds to go.

The Lions were still within 39-30 when Shelstad scored on a stop-and-go drive to the basket with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter, but Oregon City responded with a 9-2 run to push its lead back to 48-32 at the end of the stanza.

Best opened that stretch with a 3-pointer from the left wing, Newkirk hit a pair of free throws, Hanson hit a pull-up in the key and Best connected in the lane for that 48-32 edge with 47 seconds remaining in the period.

West Linn climbed back within 12 points twice at the start of the fourth quarter, but just didn't shoot well enough to rally, hitting just 4 of 15 shots from the field and only 4 of 11 free throws in the final period.

Gettel added five points in the fourth quarter to help seal the Pioneers' win.

"We were talking before the game and we decided … we needed energy to get on them early and that's exactly what we did," Hanson said. "Then we came out again and we got them in the second half."

"We just had to overcome adversity, just have faith that we can get that win," Best said. "We had to make sure everybody was ready to go to the best of their abilities."

For their part, the Lions vowed to learn from the loss.

"We've just got to play like every game is our last because once we get into the tournament, it is," Herrick said. "Everybody's giving us their best shot so we've got to give everybody our top effort."

Gettel finished 13 points, three rebounds and one assist, while Warren had 13 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.

For West Linn, it was Shelstad with 17, senior Micah Garrett and Durbin with six each, and senior Joe Juhala, VanBeenan, and Herrick with four each. Durbin added six rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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