ben simmons

Montverde earns its stripes

The nation's top team handles West Linn, 70-58, in LSI title game
Dec. 30, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - The team everyone wanted to see showed itself off Tuesday night and claimed the Les Schwab Invitational boys basketball title with a 70-58 win over scrappy West Linn.

Montverde Academy, which is ranked No. 1 nationally, and has been named the national champion the past two seasons, got 29 points and 11 rebounds from senior Ben Simmons, and cruised to the victory before a packed gym at Liberty High School.

West Linn, Oregon's two-time defending state champion, got 24 points from junior Payton Pritchard and another 18 from senior Anthony Mathis, but couldn't over come a slow start that had the visitors from Florida open up a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. The Lions got within eight points several times, but couldn't pull closer.

Montverde remained unbeaten, while West Linn dropped to 5-4 with all of its losses coming to out-of-state teams. The Lions close out their non-league schedule with a home game against Sheldon Saturday, which starts a five-game stretch of home games.

"We got a lot out of this tournament, a lot of confidence,"

"The whole tournament we made some big strides," West Linn coach Eric Viuhkola said. "The final wasn't how we want to play, wasn't West Linn basketball, but the effort and toughness was there. We got a lot of confidence here, and know we can play with anyone in the state. We're in the mix."

West Linn's resume of wins included a semifinal victory over Wheeler High, which entered as the No. 2 ranked team nationally. The Lions also beat Jefferson, the defending Class 5A champion, which now plays at 6A.

Simmons, a 6-foo-8 point guard, showed off the skill that have him on the way to Louisiana State as the nation's top prospect - and widely seen as an NBA draft pick in 2016. He hit 10-of-15 shots, most off dunks, or from under the basket, and had all four of the Eagles' blocks. Along with Simmons, Montverde featured two other front-line players 6-9 or taller.

Despite being overmatched on paper with just one player taller than 6-6, West Linn battled for rebounds and gave up just six total points to 7-foot senior Doral Moore and 6-9 freshman E.J. Montgomery. The Lions also forced Simmons into five turnovers.

The Eagles' size though, showed off when the Lions had the ball and were forced or content to take 3-point shots - 37 of their 57 field-goal attempts were 3-pointers. Pritchard attempted 15, but made six to help keep the team in the game.

Pritchard was named to the all-tournament team, along with Simmons, who was named MVP after averaging 28.3 points in four games.

 

 

 

 

 

RSS feed