West Linn knocks off national no. 1 Duncanville with ‘gutsy performance’ to win Les Schwab Invitational

Another sellout crowd. Another national powerhouse opponent. And for the second consecutive night, the West Linn Lions refused to back down and shocked the high school basketball world.

Behind 30 points from tournament MVP Jackson Shelstad, West Linn took down previously unbeaten Duncanville of Texas, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, 62-50 to win the Les Schwab Invitational championship in front of 3,550 raucous fans at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

“Oh man, it was just a gutsy performance from these young men,” said West Linn’s first-year coach, Robert Key. “We came in with the expectation to play every game to try to win and possibly win a Les Schwab title for Oregon. I told them it hadn’t been done in a long time, so let’s make some history.”

West Linn (10-0) became the first Oregon entrant to win the 16-team event since Lake Oswego in 2012. The LSI features three or four premier out-of-state teams each year along with 12 local teams. Historically, the national powerhouse visitors have dominated the event.

“This is No. 1 for me,” Shelstad said when asked to rank the LSI title among his achievements, which include a state football championship in November. “I mean, this is crazy, winning this in front of the whole state of Oregon. Beating the No. 1 team in the country, that’s pretty special.”

The Lions earned some respect Thursday night by defeating Sierra Canyon of California and star Bronny James — son of LeBron — 86-69 in the semifinals.

But Friday was a whole other level of competition. The Panthers from the Dallas area came into the game 15-0 and had faced high-level teams around the country before traveling to Hillsboro.

When five-star recruit Ron Holland, a Texas signee, threw down a thunderous dunk seconds into the game, it seemed like the Panthers might athletically overwhelm the Lions.

But even when the deficit grew to 10-2 for West Linn, the Lions settled down and eventually gained their footing.

“You know, I told the kids I’m not going to call timeouts because they’re on a run,” Key said. “It’s just a little adversity, so let’s regroup and not panic and we’ll get better.”

A 10-3 run featuring a pair of buckets by Adrian Mosley — who finished with 14 points and six rebounds — and two tough finishes by Drake Gabel helped the Lions pull within 15-12 through one quarter.

Shelstad took over in the second, scoring 14 of West Linn’s 17 points as the Lions began to frustrate the Panthers and force them into tough shots and turnovers.

A 29-25 West Linn halftime lead disappeared early in the third quarter, and Duncanville briefly took back the advantage at 33-31. But from there, it was all Lions. West Linn outscored the Panthers 19-4 the rest of the quarter behind eight points from Mosley and five from reserve forward Max Juhala, who made a buzzer-beating three-pointer to ignite the crowd and put the Lions up 50-37 with one quarter. to play

Duncanville tried to shoot its way back into the game in the fourth quarter, hitting four three-pointers to trim the lead to as little as seven, but the Lions were unflappable and Shelstad salted the game away at the free-throw line.

“We’re just the ultimate competitors and we put that work in week in, week out and we knew we had the pieces and grit to beat these two teams,” said West Linn’s Mark Hamper, who won the tournament’s Deante Strickland Award for hustle. .

Mosley collected six steals for West Linn, which forced 17 Duncanville turnovers. Hamper, Gabel and Sam Leavitt combined for only 13 points, but grabbed 17 rebounds as a group and made life difficult for the Panthers at both ends of the floor.

“Those guys are nails,” Shelstad said of the tenacious trio. “They don’t score a ton of points, but they’re going to do all the little things to rebound and defend. They’re tough.”

The Lions hit 17 of 21 at the free-throw line, while Duncanville shot just seven free throws, making four.

Shelstad made 12 of 13 at the line for the game, including 7 of 8 in the final quarter. On his only miss, he beat two Duncanville players to the rebound and got fouled again.

“He’s truly special,” Hamper said of Shelstad, a 6-footer who’s signed to play at Oregon next year. “He’s the most humble dude and the best player I’ve ever played with. He deserves everything coming his way and I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”

After making no three-pointers in the semifinals, West Linn went 3 for 14 Friday. Duncanville went 2 for 20 behind the arc in the first three quarters before hitting 4 of 7 in the fourth as it tried to rally.

Holland scored 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for Duncanville (15-1), but his teammates combined to make 10 of 38 shots. KJ Lewis, an Arizona signee, scored nine points in 27 minutes. Despite having a major size advantage, the Panthers outrebounded the Lions just 37-34, and both teams had seven offensive boards.

Next up for West Linn is avenging a semifinal loss to eventual champion Tualatin in last year’s state tournament. The Lions got some measure of revenge in beating the Timberwolves in Wednesday’s quarterfinals of the LSI, but after the 2020 and 2021 6A tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19, the seniors are looking to end their careers with a first Oregon title.

“We felt like we should have had that state championship last year,” Hamper said. “But there were better teams than us, so we had to work hard through the offseason and now we have to keep proving why we think we’re the best team in the state.”

THIRD-PLACE GAME

Ashton Hardaway scored 21 points as Sierra Canyon bounced back from an upset loss to West Linn to earn third place at the Les Schwab Invitational with an 81-66 win over Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.

The Trailblazers of Los Angeles got 11 points from Isaiah Elohim and 10 from Bronny James.

Sierra Canyon 36-33 at halftime and 51-47 through three quarters, but scored 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the final quarter to pull away for the victory.

Hardaway, the son of ex-NBA standout Anfernee Hardaway, scored 15 in the first half and made four three-pointers. James, the son of LeBron James, scored six points in the final eight minutes. Elohim, a five-star recruit in the 2024 class, left the game after falling hard on his elbow in the second half.

John Mobley Jr. made 5 of 7 three-pointers and scored 25 points to lead the Gaels, who lost in the semifinals to Duncanville. Chris Nwuli posted 13 points and a team-high six rebounds. The Gaels shot 40% for the game from the field compared to 53% for Sierra Canyon.

— Scott Sepich for The Oregonian/OregonLive

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