Some years are about reaching for the heights, battling for championships and chasing after titles.
And some years are simply about fighting every single day to get a little bit better and working to get just a little bit more competitive.
The 2019-20 season was one of the latter for the Lake Oswego girls basketball team, which saw its year end in a 75-24 loss to Three Rivers League champion West Linn at West Linn High School on Friday, Feb. 28.
As tough as that final loss was, it marked yet another instance of the Lakers' continuing efforts to fight and show improvement; their first-round loss to the third-ranked Lions was a painful 68-5 affair.
"We knew coming into (the season) at that we were going to have a super young team," said Lake Oswego sophomore Kennedy Warme. "We didn't have many seniors and we weren't super close at the beginning of the season. … But as the season went on for a while, we realized we were all on the same boat and we just had to play together to get stronger and get better."
"Today, we did a lot better in proving to ourselves that we're a little better team," said Lake Oswego junior Emma Jeanson, who led her team in scoring against West Linn. "We definitely have good chemistry and we're all willing to work in the offseason to get better."
No. 44 Lake Oswego — which played much of its season without varsity returners Megan Woolard and Kate Anders — ended its year on a 15-game losing streak, with its TRL record at 0-14 and its overall mark at 3-21. With the win over Lake Oswego — the team's ninth straight — West Linn finished its TRL season at 13-1 and took its overall record to 19-5.
Next up, third-ranked West Linn will open the Class 6A state playoffs at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, when the Lions face No. 30 Grants Pass at West Linn High School. With a win there, the Lions will host either No. 14 McMinnville or No. 19 Barlow on Friday, March 6, with a berth to the state tournament on the line. The Class 6A state tournament will be held March 11, 12 and 14 at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.
"We're excited," said West Linn junior guard Audrey Roden, who scored 17 points in the win over Lake Oswego. "My whole life, I've wanted to win a state championship and we have a really great chance to do it this year. I'm excited to be able to do it with these girls."
"I'm just so excited. I think we're ready," added West Linn sophomore guard Alana Molden, who added eight points in the win over the Lakers. "We've put in the work during practice, playing like we're in games. I just think we are so ready for it and we're excited for it."
The Lions hit the ground running against LO, speeding out to a 23-5 lead after one quarter, boosting their lead to 41-12 at the half, extending that margin to 64-16 after three periods and rolling home from there.
Despite the lopsided final score, the Lakers knew they were moving in the right direction.
"The first time we played them, we were just really intimidated," Jeanson said. "We were scared to take risks and show up, but we definitely came out more aggressive and less intimidated by them today."
"Me and some of the underclassmen, and a lot and the upperclassmen, know that we need to improve to be ready for future years," Warme added. "We are all planning to grind in the offseason to get so much better, hopefully."
In addition to Roden and Molden's efforts, junior post Aaronette Vonleh led all scorers with 19 points, while sophomore guard Olivia McVicker and junior wing Jordyn Selleh added eight points each. Jeanson led her team with seven points in the loss, while sophomore teammate Chloe Carnegie added four and freshman Harper Sutherland knocked down a 3-pointer.
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