Tualatin's Malik Ross shoots over West Linn in the Timberwolves' 56-49 semifinal win Friday. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Tualatin's Malik Ross shoots over West Linn in the Timberwolves' 56-49 semifinal win Friday. (Photo by Jon Olson)

PORTLAND -- In the closing seconds of Tualatin's 56-49 win over West Linn in the semifinals of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A boys basketball tournament Friday at the Chiles Center, the chants rang out, "Just like football."

As for what happens next, the Timberwolves are hoping that it isn't just like football.

By beating Three Rivers League rival West Linn for the third time this season, No. 1 Tualatin advances to the state championship for the first time since 2000. The Timberwolves will go for their first title Saturday when they meet No. 2 Summit.

In football, Tualatin defeated West Linn in the semifinals and had a chance at its first state title, but lost to Central Catholic in the final. Now, with eight football players on the roster-- four of them starters -- the Timberwolves are looking to make up for it.

"Most definitely," said senior guard Malik Ross, the star running back on the football team. "All five of us who played football, like we've been saying all year, that just brought so much motivation to go chase a trophy for basketball.

"Last time we played football, our last game, that's not how we wanted it to end. … We ain't satisfied yet. We still haven't changed what we did for football. We've got to win."

Junior guard Josiah Lake, the only non-football starter, scored a game-high 20 points as the top-seeded Timberwolves (25-2) took down No. 5 West Linn (21-4). Lake scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as Tualatin broke open a game that was tied five times in the second half.

Trailing 43-41, Lake scored seven consecutive points, including a three-pointer that opened a 48-43 lead with 2:53 left. West Linn got no closer than three points down the stretch.

"We just found our spots, everybody, not just me," said Lake, who made 7 of 12 shots, including 3 of 6 from three-point range. "Coach put us in the right spots to score."

With leading scorers Ross and senior guard Noah Ogoli limited to nine points each, it was Lake who turned out to be the difference-maker. The Tualatin student section broke into "Jo-Jo" chants in the fourth quarter.

"We always talk about it's different guys, different nights," Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. "Against Beaverton it was Malik, and now tonight it was Jo. All of these guys are capable of that. When you draw up a scouting plan for us, you've got to account for a lot of different people. He played fantastic tonight."

Ross gushed with praise for Lake.

"Oh my goodness," Ross said. "I'm not surprised because I work out with him a lot, and I see him go through his workouts, and it's just bucket after bucket.

"But for him to come out and do it on this stage, I'm just proud of him. … Without him, we don't win that game. I think he definitely woke up the whole state with that game."

West Linn, which lost to the Timberwolves by 11 points on the road and by two points in overtime at home, was hungry for payback Friday. The Lions, behind the three-point shooting of junior point guard Jackson Shelstad and junior forward Mark Hamper, led by eight points twice in the first half before settling for a 23-19 halftime edge.

But Ross, who did not score in the first half, scored six consecutive points to put the Timberwolves ahead 28-25 midway through the third quarter. The teams went back and forth from there, until the Lake-led surge propelled Tualatin to the win.

The Oregon-bound Shelstad made 7 of 21 shots, including 5 of 10 from three-point range, and finished with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hamper added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Jukkala credited his team for finding a way to win.

"We played Lake Oswego four times to get into the tournament, and you play West Linn three times to get this far,” Jukkala said. “It's a grind, man. It's tough. It just says worlds about these guys."

The Timberwolves survived a 29-day layoff at midseason due to COVID issues to reach the final.

"Just the resiliency of these guys is amazing," Jukkala said. "For them to get through all that, and still be playing at this level, and taking steps forward each time, it's just their heart."

The Timberwolves play with a quiet confidence. When they fall behind, there isn't a trace of panic.

"I think it just comes from trust," Lake said. "We've known each other forever. So I think we know we can dig down and get a win, pull out ugly ones, and stuff like that."

No. 2 Summit 73, No. 11 Mountainside 61: In the other semifinal, the unbeaten Storm (27-0) made 12 of 24 three-point attempts to reach the final for the first time in school history.

Seniors Carson Cox (15 points), Caden Harris (14 points) and Truman Teuber (11 points) each hit three three-pointers for Summit, which averages a 6A-high 70.8 points per game.

Sophomore Pearson Carmichael made two three-pointers and scored 12 points and senior point guard Julian Mora had 10 points and seven assists.

"If I can get in, draw and dish to our shooters, I have a whole lot of confidence it's going in," Mora said. "I think that's when we're at our best, hitting shots when I'm driving. When Caden is doing his thing, and everybody is doing their thing, I think we're really hard to stop."

Harris hit a three-pointer as the Storm opened a 40-26 lead in the third quarter before Mountainside, playing in its first state tournament, began to rally.

Senior Dezman Baker had two baskets during an 11-2 run as Mountainside pulled to within 42-37 midway through the third quarter.

But Summit answered. Harris connected for a three-pointer to make it 49-40, and when Cox struck from deep, the lead was back to 60-46 with 4:41 left in the game.

Summit, which finished third in the 5A tournament in 2016, is bidding to become the first big-school champion from Central Oregon since Redmond won the 4A title in 2003. It is the Storm's last chance to win a 6A title before returning to 5A next season.

"Everybody looks down on us in Central Oregon," Harris said. "For us to come out and do what we're doing right now … it's a great accomplishment."

The Storm can complete a perfect season by taking down top-seeded Tualatin.

"I feel like we've got something to prove, but we know what we can do," Mora said. "I'm excited. I've been wanting this game the whole year. I'm happy and excited for tomorrow."

Summit coach Jon Frazier likes how his team is playing.

"Playing the way we have, especially the last few weeks, we've realized our potential," Frazier said. "We have no regrets about where we're at. Now it's just time to let it rip, see what we can do."

Baker and senior guard Dimitri Cohen each scored 16 points to lead Mountainside (20-8), which also got 12 points from senior Dylan Westlake and nine points from freshman Brayden Boe