West Linn girls battle past Canby 46-42
This one pretty much had it all.
The West Linn girls basketball team's Friday, Jan. 24, clash against Canby featured two teams ranked among the Oregon School Activities Association's top eight, a couple key, second-half momentum swings and a final outcome that wasn't decided until the final seconds.
In the end, the Lions — ranked fourth in the Class 6A coaches poll and third in the OSAA power rankings — edged away to beat the Cougars 46-42 at Canby High School.
"I think (the key) was just our desire to win toward the end, knowing that we want to win league and make it to state," said West Linn junior post Aaronette Vonleh, who led her team with 12 points (on 5 of 6 shooting from the field and a 2 of 4 day at the foul line), along with nine rebounds, three blocks and a steal. "You can't take any games off and so I thought that was our motivation."
"We were just trying to keep our lead because we were up by 4 or 5 and we were just trying to make our free throws," said West Linn sophomore wing/post Campbell Sheffield, who finished with four points (on 2 of 5 shooting from the field), along with 10 rebounds and three assists.
With the win — the team's sixth straight — West Linn improved to a TRL-leading 4-0 mark and a 10-4 overall record. Canby, which was eighth in the OSAA power rankings before Friday, saw its two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 2-2 in TRL play and 8-5 overall.
Despite the loss, the Cougars said they were happy with their efforts and convinced they could beat the Lions.
"We put all our heart into it. It sucks the way it turned out but we're not upset with how we played," said Canby senior post Ally Odell, who finished with eight points (on 4 of 12 shooting from the field and an 0 of 3 day at the foul line), along with seven rebounds, one assist and a steal. "It could have (gone) either way. One shot bounce out, one shot bounce in — it was that close."
"We feel pretty good," added Canby senior post Nicole Mickelson, who finished with 12 points (on 5 of 9 shooting from the field and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line), along with five rebounds, three blocks and a steal. "We know we could have done a couple of things to win the game, but at the same time, we know we all gave it 100% and followed the game plan."
The two teams traded shots in the first quarter, with West Linn getting a 3-pointer from junior guard Cami Fulcher and Canby answering with its own "three" from junior guard Zoe Thompson to send the game into the second period tied at 11-11.
There was more back and forth in the second quarter, with five different West Linn players scoring in the period (including a 3-pointer by sophomore guard/wing Olivia McVicker), while the Cougars got two baskets by Mickelson to tie the contest 21-21 at halftime.
After West Linn junior guard Payton Shelstad opened the second half with a 3-pointer from the left wing assisted by Sheffield, the Cougars took off on a 10-2 run that gave them a 31-26 lead on Thompson's "three" from the left wing with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left in the quarter.
Mickelson did the rest of the damage for Canby in that run, hitting a "three" assisted by Thompson, making a backcourt steal and a layin, then taking a pass from senior Naarai Gomez and scoring on the fast break.
"We tried to move the ball around and slow down the defense or wear them out, because that way, we can attack or find openings or mismatches," Mickelson said.
"I think we just hustled," Odell said. "We got there before them and got the shot off. It was just hustle plays."
The Lions, however, did not fade away.
Instead, they rallied with their best stretch of the game, ripping off 11 straight points over a span of 5:12 to push ahead 37-31 in the first minute of the fourth quarter. West Linn knocked down 5 of 6 shots in that run, getting a pair of baskets from Vonleh down deep, a baseline jumpshot by Sheffield, a jumper from the top of the key from Shelstad assisted by Sheffield and a Fulcher "three" from the right wing set up by junior guard Audrey Roden 58 seconds into the fourth quarter.
"We just had to focus on not turning over the ball or making sloppy passes," Vonleh said.
But this one was far from over.
The Cougars clawed back within 37-36 when freshman guard Allie Mead took a Gomez pass and hit from the baseline with 4:25 to go, and were still within 40-39 when Odell set up Thompson for a "three" from the right wing with 1:37 to play.
West Linn pulled down the stretch away at the foul line, however, hitting 6 of 10 free throws in the final 1:04 to win, getting three each from Roden and Fulcher.
"It was an especially hard night because they had their 'Pack the Gym' night and the student section was full and it was hard to hear, but we still dealt with it," Vonleh said.
For their part, the Cougars knew just how close they'd been.
"They're one of the better teams in the state and we were able to stay with them the whole game," Odell said. "There wasn't much you could say bad about the game."
"This is the closest we've been to beating West Linn in a long time," Mickelson added. "I felt like we had a chance to pull away and finish it, but you have to be prepared for a team that good to come back."
Fulcher added 11 points (along with three assists, two steals and two rebounds) and Shelstad nine for West Linn. Thompson added 12 points (on 3 of 9 shooting including three 3-pointers), along with three rebounds and two assists.
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