Basketball: West Linn boys battle their way past Tualatin
The West Linn High School boys basketball team had a few days to think about it.
And the Lions were determined not to let it happen again. But, to do that, they had to fight off a persistent Tualatin team — over and over again.
West Linn, in its first game after losing at Tigard, 84-74 back on Feb. 11, fought off the persistent Timberwolves throughout the contest, before pulling away to get a 69-51 victory in a Three Rivers League game played Friday, Feb. 14, at Tualatin High School.
"I thought it was good," said West Linn senior post Joe Juhala, who scored a game-high 22 points in the victory. "It was a good comeback game after losing to Tigard. This was real important, because our goal is to win league, and then get a good seed for the playoffs. This was a crucial game for us, and I think we came out and performed really well."
"This game meant so much," said West Linn senior wing Parker Durbin, who had 13 rebounds in the contest. "After the Tigard game, we had a sour taste in our mouth. We needed this one. Now we have to keep winning from now on."
With the win, West Linn improved to 7-2 in TRL play (14-7 overall), keeping the Lions in second place in the league standings, behind only 9-0 Lake Oswego.
"We came out with tons of energy after warm-ups, and we just clicked from the beginning," Durbin said. "We had a lot of fun, and I think that's the reason why we played well tonight."
With the loss, Tualatin moved to 4-4 in TRL games (10-10 overall), putting the Wolves in a tie with Tigard for fourth place in the league standings.
"It was rough. I don't think we were prepared enough for their zone," said Tualatin sophomore guard Malik Ross, who led the Wolves with 14 points. "Teams are studying us, and we have come out ready for both the zone and man. Especially with a team like that, a great West Linn team, we have to be prepared for every aspect of the game."
"It was a tough loss," Tualatin sophomore guard Noah Ogoli said. "We gave up way too many offensive rebounds, and we need to play better as a team.
The Wolves actually got off to a strong start to the game. Trailing 7-3, they went on an 8-0 run, which included a 3-pointer by Ogoli, coming off a pass from sophomore Peter Burke, and five straight points by Ross, giving them an 11-7 lead with 4 minutes and 19 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
But West Linn, with senior Kelton Herrick scoring four points, and senior Micah Garrett adding three, rallied to take a 14-13 lead at the end of the opening period.
The Lions kept rolling early in the second quarter. West Linn opened the period with a 10-0 run, which included a 3-pointer by Garrett, coming off a pass from Durbin, a layup by Juhala, off another Durbin assist, a put-back hoop by Durbin, a mid-range jumper by Juhala and a free throw by Garrett, giving the Lions a 24-13 advantage with 4:47 left before halftime.
But, as they seemed to do throughout most the contest, the Wolves came battling back. Tualatin, getting five points each from Burke and Ross, and a basket on a turnaround jumper by senior Jeremy Lund, trimmed the margin to 30-25 with 1:19 remaining in the period.
West Linn, answering with a layup by freshman Jackson Shelstad and a buzzer-beating layup by Juhala, would hold a 34-27 lead at the intermission.
The Lions, starting strong in the third quarter, pushed the lead back to double digits, at 41-29, when Shelstad sank a 3-pointer with 6:22 left in the period.
But, again, Tualatin fought back. The Wolves, getting a jumper by Ross, a 3-pointer from Ogoli, a layup by senior Sam Noland and a basket on a full-court drive by senior John Miller, put together an 8-0 run to cut the margin to 41-38 with 4:27 remaining in the quarter.
West Linn responded with a run of its own. Juhala had three baskets in the final 2:57 of the period, helping the Lions up their lead to 53-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Tualatin opened the final stanza with back-to-back basket by Ogoli and Miller, trimming the margin to 53-45 with 7:18 left to play in the game. But the Wolves wouldn't be able to get any closer.
West Linn, with Garrett scoring eight points, and with Juhala adding four more, outscored Tualatin 16-6 the rest of the way to wrap up the 69-51 victory.
"It was definitely our defense," Juhala said of the key to the win. "I think we had a really good game plan, that we worked on hard in practice, and I think we came out and executed it really well."
Juhala scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter.
"That's great. I had that the last game, so I hope to continue that stretch and keep in going," Juhala said of his 22-point outing. "After hurting my shoulder, I realized that my time is limited, so I just got to go and bust my butt as much as I can, and that's how I'm going to do it."
Garrett added 21 points, including 12 in the second half, and a pair of steals. Shelstad added 11 points, and senior Colton Young scored seven. Durbin scored just two points, but still had a big game with his 13 rebounds, three assists and a strong defensive effort.
"Parker did great for us," Juhala said. "I think it was one of his best games, especially on defense. He was an animal. He was barking at guys on defense, and stripping away the ball. He's a really solid player for us."
"I just have to attack every time," Durbin said. "I'm not the scorer, but I'm going to go get every rebound, and I'm going to make people's nights hard going for those boards."
West Linn, as a team, made 27 of 51 shots from the field, with four 3-pointers, and 11 of 16 free-throw attempts.
Ross led a balanced Tualatin scoring attack with his 14 points. Noland added 12 points for the Wolves, and Ogoli sank three 3-pointers on his way to scoring 11 points.
"My shot was feeling good tonight, and preparation was key," he said.
Tualatin, as a team, made 21 of 52 shots from the field, with six 3-pointers, and three of six free-throw attempts.
"Being a young team, we learn a lot. This will help up prepare. Playing great teams like this will help us get ready for the playoffs," Ross said. "Most great teams we play, we come back with an answer. If we just stay with it, believe in ourselves, and just play team ball until the end of the game, not just until the third quarter, we'll be good."
"We need to come out stronger, and be more focused," Ogoli said. "We're hoping to make a playoff push, and get those next four games to give us some momentum going into the playoffs."
Both teams will be back in action with league games on Tuesday. West Linn will host Canby at 6 p.m., and Tualatin will be home to face Oregon City at 7 p.m.
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