WEST LINN – West Linn star point guard Jackson Shelstad left a lasting impression in his final home game Saturday night.
Now Shelstad and the top-seeded Lions hope to leave their mark in the 6A boys basketball tournament.
The Oregon-bound Shelstad put on a signature performance as West Linn throttled No. 16 Jesuit 89-64 in a 6A second-round game to secure a spot in the eight-team state tournament next week at the Chiles Center.
Shelstad made 17 of 23 shots from the field, including 7 of 8 from three-point range, and finished with 41 points and six assists. The 6-foot senior had a chance to match his season high of 43, but missed two free throws early in the fourth quarter before coming out of the game with 7:03 remaining and his team up 86-47.
“I was just out there trying to get guys open and play my game,” Shelstad said. “But I got a little hot in the second quarter, and from there I just kind of kept shooting. It just felt good. It was one of those nights where it felt like everything was going in.”
Shelstad was the catalyst for a 26-0 run that gave West Linn a 33-8 lead early in the second quarter. He scored 12 consecutive points in the surge, including back-to-back three-pointers and a steal followed by an emphatic two-handed dunk.
“He was in a complete zone,” West Linn coach Robert Key said of Shelstad, who averaged 28.0 points in the regular season and scored 33 points in a first-round playoff win over Century.
West Linn (26-1) shared the ball and found the open man, hitting 14 of 30 three-point attempts. Senior guard Adrian Mosely made two three-pointers and scored 19 points. Junior guard Nick DiGuilio came off the bench to make three triples and add 11 points.
It was the kind of performance that the Lions were looking for as they go into the state tournament as the odds-on favorite.
“I feel like we're doing pretty good,” Shelstad said. “Our chemistry is starting to really click. Everyone is playing hard on both sides of the ball, which is big for us. Offensively it's going to come, defensively is where we need to lock in.”
West Linn will play No. 9 Central Catholic in a quarterfinal on March 9. The Lions, whose only loss this season came against De La Salle (Calif.), know that opponents will be gunning for them.
“These guys have been dialed in since Day 1,” Key said. “Our motto has been one game at a time, and here it comes down to three games. The target, we know about it, they're prepared for it, and we look forward to the challenge.”
Mosley said the Lions have been ramping up their preparation in practice.
“Me and Jackson have been going at each other a lot, so I feel that's helping both of us get a lot better,” Mosley said. “Guarding someone that plays like that night in and night out is definitely helping me. The rest of the guys also challenge us. I definitely feel like we're reaching our full potential right now.”
Mosley, who transferred from Grant, will get his first chance to play in the state tournament after second-round losses in 2020 and 2022. As for the rest of the Lions, they are eager to make up for last year, when they lost to eventual champion Tualatin 56-49 in the semifinals.
They haven't won a state championship since Payton Pritchard led them to four consecutive titles from 2013 to 2016.
“We've got 10 seniors on the team, so this is our last shot, and we're going to give it our all,” Shelstad said. “We've got some of the most competitive dudes in the state. It's just about if we're going to play together, because I know we're going to compete and play hard.”
Mosley said the Lions are “just trying to stay poised and not really think about being ranked No. 1. We're just going to compete in practice and play hard and listen to Coach Key's game plan, because he often has a really good script.”
The Lions will look to build on what has been a special year for West Linn sports. The football team and wrestling team won 6A championships.
“West Linn's on a roll right now,” Shelstad said. “We could get baseball and lacrosse, too. You never know. West Linn's got some of the best sports programs in the state.”
Jesuit (16-10) lost in the second round for the second year in a row. The Crusaders got 25 points from 6-5 junior wing Nico Rafalovich and 15 points from senior guard Isaiah Crane.