West Linn boys win twice, head to 6A state tourney
The Lions are back.
The West Linn boys basketball team won two straight playoff games — including a 71-54 win over Jesuit on Friday, March 4, that guaranteed the Lions a berth in the Class 6A state tournament.
In the win over the Crusaders at West Linn High School, the Lions led at the end of the first, second and third quarters — leading 54-46 after three —then pulled away to win with a 17-8 edge in the final period.
Junior guard Jackson Shelstad, who led all scorers with 40 points, tacked on 10 of those point in the final quarter to help the Lions pull away. Junior Mark Hamper scored 13 points in the win and senior Zeke Viuhkola added seven.
With the win — the Lions' third straight and 10th in their last 11 games — West Linn improved to 20-3 overall after placing second in the Three Rivers League. Next up, the fifth-ranked Lions will face No. 5 South Medford — a 62-53 winner over West Salem on Friday — in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state tournament at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.
The Ida B. Wells boys basketball team came out firing on Tuesday, March 1.
The 28th-ranked Guardians, facing West Linn in the first round of the state playoffs, knocked down four 3-pointers in the game's first five minutes and held the lead into the first minute of the second quarter.
But the Lions can bomb it from long range, too, and proved it big-time, hitting 15 "threes" and racing away to beat Ida B. Wells 90-70 at West Linn High School.
"It was a good to get a good start to the first playoff game," said Shelstad, who led all scorers with 36 points (he hit 14 shots from the field, including six 3-pointers), along with six rebounds and three steals. "I think this was a good start that we can (build on and) keep the momentum going."
"Overall, I think that it was a very good way to start (the) playoffs," said Viuhkola, who added 12 points (on 4 of 7 shooting from the field, including three 3-pointers and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds and four assists. "I definitely thought it was a good start against a good team that we can build off to keep going throughout the rest of the season."
Wells, meanwhile, lost for the second straight time and finished 9-17 overall after placing sixth in the Portland Interscholastic League.
The Guardians opened their long-range onslaught early, with sophomore Jacy Canalin hitting two "threes" in the first quarter, while senior Leo Sewell and sophomore Nick DiGiulio each adding 3-pointers of their own to help Wells lead 12-7 in the first quarter and 16-12 early in the second quarter.
Shelstad kept his team close with seven points in the first quarter, while in the second, junior Mark Hamper scored four straight points to give West Linn the lead for good at 18-16 when he hit a pair of free throws with 6 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the half.
The Lions kept the pressure on, too. From that five-point first-quarter deficit to halftime, West Linn outscored the Guardians 32-13 over a span of 11 minutes to take a 39-25 edge into the break.
"After that start, we just settled down and started playing our basketball (and) that let us get into a zone," Viuhkola said.
Nobody played a bigger role in that stretch than Shelstad, who scored 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the floor in a span of 7:30, including one "three" and two foul shots. Viuhkola was tough in that run, too, scoring seven points while Hamper added another four.
Wells got within 10 points once in the second half — at 42-32 when Canalin hit a pull-up 3-pointer with 5:32 left in the third quarter — but the Lions pulled away from there. Shelstad poured in 14 points in the third quarter, junior Blake Oltmans added six and both Hamper and junior Drake Gabel hit "threes" to push their team's lead to 67-51 at the end of three.
The Lions boosted their lead to a game-high 21 points at 79-58 when Shelstad hit a pull-up "three" and West Linn coasted home from there.
"(The key was) we started playing our ball and did a better job taking away their strengths," Shelstad said.
Hamper finished with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Canalin led Wells with 27 points (on 11 of 17 shooting from the field, including five "threes"), along with two rebounds. Junior Jonah Jones finished with eight points (on 4 of 10 shooting from the field), along with nine rebounds, two assists and one steal. Sewell finished with 11 points (on 3 of 9 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers and a 3 of 3 day at the foul line), along with seven assists and one rebound.
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