WEST LINN – The finish was less than ideal, but No. 1 West Linn got the job done on its home court against No. 2 Tualatin in a Three Rivers League boys basketball showdown Thursday night.
The Lions (18-1, 4-0) opened a 10-point lead early in the second quarter and led by 13 after three quarters before turnovers and missed free throws created some last-minute drama, but they held on for a 60-54 win over the Timberwolves (14-4, 3-1) before a standing-room only crowd.
Senior point guard Jackson Shelstad showed the way with 29 points, his season average, and senior guard Adrian Mosley added 12 points for West Linn. It marked the second time this season the Lions have defeated reigning 6A champion Tualatin, the other win coming in overtime at the Les Schwab Invitational on Dec. 28.
“I think we had spurts of the game where we were looking really good, and then, especially toward the end, we kind of folded a little bit,” Shelstad said. “That's what we did the first time we played them, too. We just have to fix that.
“We can get better at that. But we got the win, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.”
West Linn led 56-45 when junior guard Nick DiGuilio hit a three-pointer with 3:55 remaining and had a nine-point edge with less than 90 seconds to play. But Shelstad twice missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity and the Lions committed two turnovers to keep the door open for Tualatin.
“We were throwing the ball all over the place, not taking care of it,” Shelstad said. “It could have cost us the game.”
Timberwolves junior Jaden Steppe turned a steal into a layup to make it 56-52, and after a steal by senior guard Josiah Lake, Steppe scored on a putback and was fouled to cut the lead to 56-54 with 35 seconds left. He missed the ensuing free throw, however, and Shelstad iced the win with four consecutive free throws.
“That could have been a game-changer on their side, but we prevailed,” West Linn coach Robert Key said. “It was a little scary. … We hung in there at the end.”
Lake finished with a game-high 25 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, and Steppe added 19 points for the Timberwolves.
“You never know when the game can switch around, so we just stayed patient,” Lake said. “We got our chance, we took it, but we just came up short.”
The Oregon-bound Shelstad, who had a season-high 43 points in the last meeting between the teams, came out on fire Thursday. He scored 17 points in the first half, making all five of his three-point attempts, as the Lions led 36-27 at the break.
“I was feeling it a little bit in the first half,” Shelstad said. “Second half, I got tired.”
Shelstad was using up plenty of energy guarding the dangerous Lake on the other end. The 6-2 Mosley also had his hands full in battling with the 6-8 Steppe, eventually fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
“That's big when he goes out,” Key said of Mosley, who also fouled out in the first game against Tualatin. “Adrian asked for that assignment. He wants to guard the opponent's best player. I thought he did a good job, but got a little handsy, and it cost him some foul trouble.”
The Lions couldn't keep their offensive flow going in the second half as the Timberwolves tightened up on defense.
“We played really good in the first half,” West Linn senior forward Mark Hamper said. “Second half, we've got to clean things up, stay out of foul trouble, and finish the game better. We struggled against Lake Oswego doing that. We've just got to keep working on it and get better as the season goes on.”
Hamper said the game was more of a defensive grind than the first meeting between the teams.
“When you play a team so much, you're just so familiar with their guys, and familiar with their moves,” he said. “It's going to be a defensive battle from now on when we play them.”
West Linn got a boost off the bench from DiGuilio, a transfer from Wells who played in his first game two weeks ago. The sharpshooting DiGuilio hit two three-pointers and scored eight points.
“He's fun to play with because he just changes the dynamic of our team,” Shelstad said. “If you're going to help off him, we're going to hit him and he's going to hit the three. If you don't, then it makes driving lanes way more open.”
DiGuilio is settling into his role.
“It's been real smooth,” he said of the transition. “The teammates, they've been great. They've been real accepting. They just let me play my game, and they also help me elevate.”
The teams will meet again Feb. 22 at Tualatin in a rivalry that has intensified in recent seasons. The Timberwolves won all three games last year, including in the 6A semifinals.
“We'll see them again, and it'll be a good one,” Lake said. “It just makes us work harder. It fuels our fire. … I know we'll bounce back.”
Cascade stops No. 1 Philomath
Sophomore guard Landon Knox scored 18 points and senior guard Spencer Horne added 16 points as No. 2 Cascade knocked off No. 1 Philomath 50-49 in a 4A Oregon West Conference game Thursday night.
Host Cascade (15-2, 5-0) appeared to be in control at half, leading 36-20, but Philomath (15-2, 4-1) rallied to within 41-39 after three quarters.
The Cougars pushed the lead back to 47-41. Philomath senior Ty May hit a three-pointer to make it 47-44 with 31 seconds left, but Horne answered with a layup for a 49-44 edge, and Cascade held on for the win.
“I'm proud that we stuck as one,” Horne said. “We didn't bicker at each other, we never got mad at each other, we stuck together. When they went on that big run, we stuck together, and I'm just proud of the boys.”
May and junior Preston Kramer led the Warriors with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
The teams meet again in the regular-season finale at Philomath on Feb. 20.
"It's good that the 18-point lead didn't stick and beat them by 20 because we would have gone (to Philomath) thinking we're way better than them,” Horne said. “They lost and they'll have the fire, but we've got to have the same fire because it was a one-point game.”
-- Jeremy McDonald
Howell propels Panthers
Sophomore guard Boden Howell is having a big week for South Medford (14-5, 6-0 6A Southwest Conference).
The 6-4 Howell scored a season-high 40 points and grabbed nine rebounds in an 89-74 win at South Eugene on Tuesday. He made 17 of 27 shots from the field.
He followed that Wednesday by collecting 27 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead the Panthers to a 60-51 home win over West Salem (11-7, 6-0 Central Valley Conference), avenging a 58-53 loss in the final of the Abby's Holiday Classic on Dec. 29. South Medford trailed 48-47 with 3:27 left but pulled away late to end the Titans' winning streak at nine.
Howell is averaging a team-high 21.2 points per game for South Medford, which has won eight in a row and owns a two-game lead over second-place Roseburg (14-4, 4-2).
Hull done for season
The stirring freshman season of South Wasco County's Jason Hull has come to an untimely end.
The 6-1 Hull, who set a state freshman record with a 54-point game last week, suffered a non-contact knee dislocation when the No. 9 Redsides (18-2, 10-0) defeated visiting Sherman 67-26 in a 1A Big Sky League game Saturday.
“Lucky nothing major was hurt. He is out for the rest of the year, but it's only 12 weeks recovery, with no surgery necessary,” said South Wasco County coach Jim Hull, his father. “He is so disappointed, but he has a bright future to look forward to and will be fine for summer ball.”
Hull is averaging 28.7 points per game. He is shooting 54 percent from the field, including 32 percent from three-point range (58 for 178), and 83 percent on free throws (64 for 77).