West Linn girls step up to rout Wilsonville 82-51
The West Linn and Wilsonville girls basketball teams were two of the state's best a year ago.
The Lions finished second in the Three Rivers League in 2019, and later, finished sixth in the Class 6A state tournament.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, won the Northwest Oregon Conference, and later, placed third at the Class 5A state tournament.
Both teams are likely to be great again this year, but on Friday, Dec. 13, the Lions definitely held the upper hand.
Hosting the Wildcats in a cross-school district rivalry game, West Linn racked up a 22-point halftime lead and rode that fast start to post an 82-51 non-league win at West Linn High School.
"The teamwork we had tonight was what we've been striving for for two years now, and hopefully, this isn't the last time it's going look like this," said West Linn junior wing Audrey Roden, who led all scorers with 25 points after hitting 10 of 18 shots (including five 3-pointers) from the field, along with five steals, five rebounds, two assists and one block. "I'm really proud of us as a team."
"It was our second game so we came back stronger," added junior post Aaronette Vonleh, who added 21 points after hitting 10 of 15 shots from the field and her lone foul shot, along with eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks. "I think that we realized if you start to work from the inside, it sets up the outside, and I thought we played really good defensively until the third quarter."
With the win, the Lions — ranked second in the first Class 6A coaches poll of the year — improved to 2-0 in non-league play. The Wildcats, meanwhile — ranked second in the Class 5A coaches poll — fell to 1-1 overall.
"They're a good team. They're very scrappy and they know what they want," said Wilsonville junior post Emilia Bishop, who finished with 11 points on 5 of 12 shooting from the field and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line, along with six rebounds and one steal. "I think for us, (the key) was us … knowing their strong suits and what their weapons were."
"They came out really strong and aggressive the first half," added Wilsonville junior guard Sydney Burns, who led her team with 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the floor and a 1 of 2 day at the line, along with nine assists and six rebounds. "They just pushed us right back on our heels and they were attacking first."
The Lions attacked and attacked well right from the game's beginning, knocking down six of seven shots from the floor over a span of 3 minutes, 11 seconds in the first quarter to grab a commanding 20-7 lead when junior point guard Cami Fulcher knocked down a jumpshot from the foul line with 2:17 left in the period.
Fulcher was especially effective in that quarter, scoring seven of her 12 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the floor and 1 of 2 at the foul line, while adding three rebounds and two assists in the frame. Vonleh added another six points after hitting three of her first four shots.
Bishop did her best to keep the Wildcats afloat by hitting 3 of 4 shots in the quarter, but Wilsonville trailed 22-9 after one.
Things got worse for the Wildcats before they got better, too. In the second quarter, the Lions saw Roden break free for nine points on 4 of 5 shooting from the floor, eventually helping her team extend its lead to 44-20 when junior Isabella McVicker took a Fulcher pass and buried a "three" from the left corner with 1:20 to go in the half.
For Wilsonville, Burns stepped up to hit 4 of 5 shots (including two 3-pointers) and score 10 points, making four straight over a stretch of just 4:41, but the Cats still trailed 45-23 at halftime.
To its great credit, however, Wilsonville didn't give up. Instead, the Wildcats came back in the second half to fight, defend more aggressively and work on improvement.
"When we went to the locker room at halftime, our coach asked us 'What is something you want to be better at in the second half?'" Bishop said. "And something we've been really working hard on as a team is our accountability — to ourselves and to each other — and so I feel like in the second half … we settled in and got some more courage."
"We kind of came in and evaluated what we were doing wrong, and we just realized we weren't mentally attacking and having an aggressive mindset so we decided to switch that around," Burns said. "We decided we'd get the most out of it by being aggressive and attacking so that was more beneficial for us."
And the Wildcats were definitely better in the night's final two quarters — after getting outscored by 22 points in the first half, Wilsonville cut its second-half deficit to just nine points in the second half.
As far as coming back, though, the Lions were having none of it. While Wilsonville sophomore wing Grace Gatto came through to knock down a pair of "threes" in the third quarter, Roden ran wild, hitting 5 of 8 shots from the floor (including three 3-pointers) to pour in 13 points and prevent the Wildcats from getting any closer than 19 points in the half.
Vonleh then finished strong with seven points in the fourth quarter to keep Wilsonville at bay.
"This was a big improvement from Tuesday and I'm just really proud of us," Roden said. "I'm proud to be a Lion tonight."
"We started to get a little tired (in the third quarter), but we picked right back up so it was fine," Vonleh said. "They did play better in the second half, but by then, we'd already gotten so far ahead that it didn't really matter."
For West Linn, sophomores Alana Molden and Olivia McVicker added six points each in the win. For Wilsonville, sophomore Karina Borgen and Gatto added six points each.
As a team, the Lions forced 22 Wilsonville turnovers while committing 15 themselves.
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