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Timberwolves come from 12 points behind to win on Malik Ross' layup with 1.5 seconds left.

COURTESY PHOTO: JON OLSON - West Linn senior Zeke Viuhkola drives to the basket during his team's 68-66 overtime win loss to Tualatin at West Linn High School on Tuesday, Feb. 22.The first meeting of the West Linn and Tualatin boys basketball teams was an absolute battle.

The rematch — held on Tuesday Feb. 22, at West Linn High School — was even more intense.

In the end, the No. 3 Lions pushed the No. 1 Timberwolves into overtime before finally falling 68-66 when Tualatin senior guard Malik Ross hit a driving layin with 1.5 seconds left in OT.

"(Things) started going downhill and I thought we kind of started playing back on our heels a little bit," West Linn coach Eric Viuhkola said. "The biggest thing is they just started getting a bunch of buckets. I mean, everything was at the rim."

Together, the inside scoring of 6-foot-7 sophomore Jalen Steppe — he scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half — and Ross' slashing helped the Timberwolves take over first place in the Three Rivers League.

With the score tied 66-66, Ross drove for a left-handed layup to seal his team's victory.

"We were trying to get it into Jalen Steppe because he was killing all game," Ross said. "He brought a lot of attention, so he just passed it out to me and I had to go get a bucket. I struggled all game so that one felt pretty good."

With the win — Tualatin's 10th straight —the Timberwolves improved to 10-1 in TRL play and 20-2 overall. West Linn, meanwhile, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped — its last loss came against Tualatin on Jan. 28 — and fell to 9-2 in league and 17-3 overall.

"It means a lot, but we still have two more tough games ahead of us," Ross said. "We're going to celebrate this one and move on and try to win league."

"Our guys compete, and that's what we kind of hang our hat on is competing every night," Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. "These guys find a way as the game goes on because we haven't had a lot of practices to really do what we normally do in a season."

PMG PHOTO: JON OLSON - West Linn junior Mark Hamper goes up for a shot during his team's 68-66 overtime loss to Tualatin at West Linn High School on Tuesday, Feb. 22.Trailing West Linn by 12 points early in the third quarter, Tualatin appeared to be in trouble. But Steppe went to work inside, scoring the first six points of an 8-0 run that closed the gap to 41-39 late in the third quarter.

Steppe continued to pound away inside in the fourth quarter. He had two baskets in another 8-0 run as the Timberwolves took a 57-51 lead with 2:38 left.

West Linn wouldn't go away, however. Lions junior point guard Jackson Shelstad drew a foul on a 3-point attempt with 12 seconds left and made all three shots to tie the game at 61-61.

Tualatin had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Ross missed a jumper in the lane with four seconds to go and time expired on the rebound scramble.

West Linn junior forward Mark Hamper hit a "three" for a 64-61 lead to start overtime and scored on a baseline drive to keep the Lions ahead 66-63 with 1:35 remaining.

Timberwolves junior guard Josiah Lake countered with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 66-66 with 1:25 to go, and after West Linn failed to score, Tualatin ran down the clock for Ross' winning basket.

"There's nobody I trust more than Malik," Jukkala said. "At the end, he finished it off."

Ross started slow but came on strong late, scoring 12 of his 17 points after halftime.

West Linn called timeout to set up a full-court inbound play with 1.1 seconds left, but failed to get off a shot after a long pass was batted away.

"I thought we played hard and I thought we played together," Viuhkola said. "I don't think we've been playing hard lately. We made some bonehead plays and were kind of sloppy with the ball, but I'm just proud of them that they competed and played their butts off. We've got to get some things worked out and I think we're going to be fine."

Shelstad and senior guard Zeke Viuhkola scored 20 and 18 points, respectively, to lead West Linn, which also got 15 points from Hamper. The Lions finish their regular season Friday at Oregon City.

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