The playoffs are here and it's time to get serious.
The West Linn girls basketball team clearly gets that.
The Lions proved it in spades on Tuesday, March 3, when they opened the Class 6A state playoffs with a dominating 61-17 win over Grants Pass at West Linn High School.
"West Linn was very aggressive defensively throughout the game and was able to hold Grants Pass to single digits all four quarters," said West Linn coach Brooke Cates.
With the win — the third-ranked Lions' 10th straight — West Linn improved to 20-5 overall after winning the Three Rivers League title outright. No. 31 Grants Pass, meanwhile, lost for a second straight time and the fourth time in its last five games to end its season at 10-14 after tying for fourth place in the Southwest Conference.
Next up, the Lions will host 14th-ranked McMinnville in the second round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6. The Grizzlies enter the game with a 17-8 overall record after placing second in the Pacific Conference. McMinnville posted a 51-35 win over Barlow at McMinnville High School in its first-round playoff game.
In Tuesday's win, West Linn put the defensive clamps on the Lady Cavers right from the opening tip, holding Grants Pass to just two points in the opening quarter and grabbing a commanding 22-2 lead.
West Linn junior guard Audrey Roden — she led the Lions with 22 points — came out hot against Grants Pass, knocking down two 3-pointers in the first period and scoring 10 points, while Lion sophomore guard Olivia McVicker added a "three" of her own and scored five points, junior post Aaronette Vonleh dropped in four and junior Payton Shelstad hit another 3-pointer.
There was more trouble ahead for the Lady Cavers in the second quarter as the West Linn "D" again held them to just two points — a pair of free throws by junior guard Emily Rund — while adding 14 more to their side of the ledger and taking a 36-4 lead at the half.
Roden and Vonleh led the way again in the second stanza, with Roden hitting two more "threes" and scoring another 10 points, while Vonleh tacked on four points.
Grants Pass finally got its offense going in the third quarter with nine points — five of them from Rund — but the Lions extended their lead to 55-13 and essentially ended the game.
"(We) had success in attacking the rim early," Cates said. "(But) Grants Pass continued to fight and worked hard to execute their offense and defense which made West Linn continually adjust throughout the game."
In addition to Roden's 22 points and 10 steals, Vonleh had 16 points and six rebounds, McVicker added eight points and Shelstad six. Rund led the Lady Cavers with 11 points.
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