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Tough and together: Wilsonville
knocks off top-seeded Churchill for
another 5A title
By JD Humburg | The Oregonian/OregonLive | Posted March 09, 2019 at 08:35 PM
By Bob Lundeberg | For The Oregonian/OregonLive
Photos by Leon Neuschwander, for The Oregonian/OregonLive
CORVALLIS — Jack Roche said Friday was about making history. Saturday was all about legacy.
Playing in the Class 5A boys basketball state tournament championship game for the fifth time in the past five seasons, No. 2 Wilsonville erased a fourth-quarter deficit and pulled away for a 67-58 victory over top-seeded Churchill at Gill Coliseum. Wilsonville, which became the only program among all classifications to reach five consecutive finals when it defeated Silverton in Friday’s semis, has won three titles during the span (2016-17, 2019).
“It’s indescribable going out on top,” said Roche, a senior point guard who set a 5A state tournament single-game assists record with 13, and a record for a championship game at any classification. “Couldn’t have dreamt of a better high school career, except for one game last year.”
Wildcats coach Chris Roche also led Wilsonville (27-2) to a state championship in 2005. The program is 124-17 the past five seasons.
“As a coach it’s really gratifying,” Chris Roche said. “I’m getting older now and you never know how many more of these you’ll have. My dad (John Roche) is real sick and my son’s playing, so on a personal level, it’s very meaningful to me.”
Churchill (23-5) trailed 31-26 at halftime and grabbed its first — and only — lead at 46-44 when Brian Goracke, Isaiah Wallace and Silas Bennion canned three-pointers on consecutive possessions to close the third quarter.
The seasoned Wildcats opened the fourth with a 9-0 run, going up 43- 36 on Keegan Shivers' three-point play. Dakota Reber also had two baskets during the stretch.
While Wilsonville’s offense hummed, the Lancers couldn’t get anything going.
“I just felt like we were playing in hyper-speed,” Churchill coach Kelly Bokn said of his junior-led group. “We just couldn’t control our emotions; we just played so rushed offensively today. We battled back and got ourselves that lead, and we just didn’t take a deep breath and kind of settle in for good shots.
“Credit to Wilsonville. Great program, great team and unfortunately we just didn’t have it today.”
An and-one by Goracke cut it to 58-53 with 1:59 remaining, but the Wildcats took care of business from the free throw line to close it out. One day after going 11 for 23 (47.8 percent) in its 50-45 semifinal win over Silverton, Wilsonville shot 21 of 26 (80.8 percent) from the line. “I wish I knew,” Jack Roche said on what changed overnight.
Reber led the way with 21 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Fellow post Shivers had 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“Me and Dakota have been talking about how in this tournament we wanted to go rebound the ball,” Shivers said. “That was our goal, we were going to go grab all the balls we could. Dakota can get up there, and it was just awesome watching him go get the ball.”
"Our big guys (Reber, Shivers and Nolan Thebiay) really came to play tonight," said Coach Roche. "They were fantastic. We were very strong in the paint and on the boards, and much of the credit for that goes to Dakota, Keegan and Nolan. They really played well."
Sam Westing added 11 points off the bench, and Gabe Reichle (nine points), Jack Roche (seven) and Zachary Rivers (seven) rounded out Wilsonville’s scoring. Rivers, a senior guard, suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.
"Sam gave us a huge lift when Zach went down with the unfortunate injury," said Coach Roche. "Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt in a championship game, let alone somebody as crucial to a team as Zach. But Sam stepped up and was ready. We didn't miss a beat. He had a monster game for us at just the right time. That was really fun to witness."
Struggling with his shooting touch for the third consecutive game, Roche instead focused on setting up his teammates. He played all 32 minutes Saturday and finished with 13 assists and two turnovers.
“He showed maturity,” coach Roche said. “Because he’s been our leading scorer all year and tonight, the way they defended with the athletes they have, we had to go a different direction, and he was a willing passer. And when your leading scorer is a willing passer, you’ve got a chance to be good.”
Wallace had a strong game for Churchill, knocking down four three- pointers en route to a team-high 17 points. Sixth man Samaje Morgan added 13 points and four assists; Goracke tallied 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
The Lancers got lost on defense early as Reber and Rivers hit open three-pointers for a 10-2 lead. Five consecutive points from Morgan — including a straight-away three — pulled Churchill within two, and the freshman guard then converted a coast-to-coast layup at the horn to make it 16-13 Wildcats after one quarter.
“He’s a baller,” Bokn said of Morgan. “Big stage player, did some great things for us and I’m proud of him as a freshman to come out and do that.”
Wallace tied the score at 26-26 on an elbow three, but Wilsonville netted the final five points of the half. The Wildcats answered Churchill’s third-quarter run with a dominant fourth.
“This year our saying has been tough and together,” Shivers said. “At the end of the third, we came into the huddle and said, ‘We’ve got one more quarter, tough and together,’ and that’s what we did.”
Churchill is a four-time state runner-up under Bokn, including a loss to Wilsonville in the 2017 final. The Lancers, who are set to return every rotation piece next season, also placed second in 2013-14.
“Whenever you get beat like this in a big game and you’ve got a lot of kids coming back, it’s going to motivate them in the offseason to try and get back here,” Bokn said. “Disappointed that we didn’t take the opportunity we had today, but it was a great season by our kids.”
Led by John Roche, Chris Roche’s dad, the Lancers earned state titles in 1995 and 2001. John Roche is in the Churchill Hall of Fame. Chris Roche said his two final wins over the Eugene school carry extra meaning “only out of respect.”
“I love that place,” he explained. “It was the first place that I coached. I coached a year of freshman ball under my dad. My dad’s in the hall of fame because of Kelly ... but there’s no special satisfaction in beating Churchill, except for how good they are.”
WILSONVILLE 67, CHURCHILL 58
WILSONVILLE (27-2): Dakota Reber 21; Keegan Shivers 12; Sam Westing 11; Gabe Reichle 9; Jack Roche 7; Zachary Rivers 7; Nolan Thebiay 0; Grant Irby 0. Totals 21-37 21-26 67.
CHURCHILL (23-5): Isaiah Wallace 17; Samaje Morgan 13; Brian Goracke 10; Silas Bennion 9; Kaelan O'Neil 9; Dylan Carson 0; Evan Pia 0; Ejim Akuma III 0. Totals 21-56 9-12 58.
Wilsonville................... 16 15 13 23 - 67
Churchill..................... 13 13 20 12 - 58
Three-point goals--Wilsonville 4-9 (Sam Westing 2-2; Zachary Rivers 1-1; Dakota Reber 1-3; Jack Roche 0-3), Churchill 7-20 (Isaiah Wallace 4-6; Silas Bennion 1-3; Brian Goracke 1-4; Samaje Morgan 1- 3; Ejim Akuma III 0-1; Kaelan O'Neil 0-3). Fouled out--Wilsonville- None, Churchill-Ejim Akuma III; Kaelan O'Neil; Brian Goracke. Rebounds--Wilsonville 29 (Keegan Shivers 11), Churchill 26 (Kaelan O'Neil 6). Assists--Wilsonville 16 (Jack Roche 13), Churchill 8 (Samaje Morgan 4). Total fouls--Wilsonville 16, Churchill 22.
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