The turnaround season that the West Linn High School girls basketball team had been enjoying — one which included a first-round upset of No. 16 Newberg earlier in the week — has come to a close.
Top-ranked Jesuit cruised by West Linn in the second round of the 6A state tournament with a dominant 54-17 victory. Jesuit senior guard Sofia Bell led the way with 22 points in only three quarters of play.
Bell, the Oregon-bound guard who played against West Linn earlier in her career as a member of St. Mary's Academy, not only shot seven of 17 from the field, including 6 of 9 from beyond the arc — she also helped spearhead a crippling defense.
For Jesuit coach Jason Lowery, he has been seeing these types of performances all year.
“That’s just who she is,” Lowery said. “She is all natural and plays within the flow.”
With Bell on the perimeter, junior center Kendra Hicks, despite finishing with five points, gave her team a physical force in the paint. Hicks’ fingerprints were on the game whether it be putting pressure on the boards or protecting the paint, the center had an undeniable impact on both ends.
Coach Lowery described Hicks as an “old-fashioned throwback post player” in a three-point hungry era of basketball.
“She is all about doing the work around the basket,” Lowery said.
Bell couldn’t be happier to have this “old-fashioned throwback post player” as her teammate.
“She’s the player that you want on your team and never want to go up against,” Bell said about Hicks. “She rebounds every ball and plays harder than anyone. She’s awesome.”
Even with their eyes set on a state title, Jesuit plans to take one game at a time.
“We can’t get to (the championship) on Saturday if we don’t take care of business on Wednesday,” Lowery said. “That's all that matters at this point.”
Jesuit, who is 25-2 on the season, are riding a 19-game winning streak. The last time that the Crusaders lost was in the last calendar year against Jazzy Davidson and the Clackamas Cavaliers.
With momentum in their favor, the Crusaders will take on Willamette in the quarterfinals of the girls 6A state playoffs.
Even with the Lions' season ending, West Linn coach Brooke Cates couldn’t have been prouder with how her team performed this season.
“They have come so far since the beginning of the year and to get to play the number one team was a great experience,” Cates said.
Senior center Olive Batch led the Lions with eight points on 4 of 10 shooting as she finished her lone season at West Linn after transferring from Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA).
Even in one year with the Lions, Batch’s impact didn’t go unnoticed.
“Olive is an outstanding young lady both on and off the court,” Cates said. “She’s just meant the world to this team and having so many young athletes surrounding her this year, she’s really showed them what it’s like to be a great person and a great athlete.”
With the season ending, the Lions will also lose team captain Avery Jordan along with Taelyn Haney, a four-year player for West Linn.
“All three of those girls are super high-character kids,” Cates said about her departing seniors. “It's just these are the kind of kids that you want to represent your program and city.”