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Wilsonville up to old tricks at 5A boys tournament, routs West Albany to set up semifinal showdown with top-seeded Churchill

 

By Bob Lundeberg | For The Oregonian/OregonLive

Photos by Amanda Loman, for The Oregonian/OregonLive 

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CORVALLIS — Wilsonville’s resume since the Les Schwab Invitational can only be described as flawless.

A 1-3 showing at the prestigious tournament that included a victory over Class 6A power Lake Oswego helped prepare the Wildcats for Northwest Oregon Conference play and beyond. The early-season experience is paying dividends for the defending Class 5A champions.

Fourth-seeded Wilsonville extended its win streak to 18 games Wednesday afternoon at the Class 5A state tournament with a comfortable 61-42 quarterfinal decision against No. 5 West Albany at Gill Coliseum. Next is a semifinal date with top-seeded Churchill, a rematch of last year’s title game, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I mean, we’re really excited to play them,” said Wilsonville senior Dakota Reber, a two-time Northwest Oregon player of the year. “They’re the No. 1 team, so we definitely want to see how we match up against them.”

The Wildcats (22-5) got off to a 4-5 start this season with losses to Class 6A quarterfinalists West Linn, Clackamas and Jesuit and out-of-state behemoths Rancho Christian (California) and Eastside Catholic (Washington). Reber sat out most of the LSI with an ankle injury, and Keegan Shivers missed half of league play with a thigh contusion.

Despite the adversity, Wilsonville caught fire after the LSI and won its final 16 regular-season games by an average of 30.1 points. The Wildcats routed Corvallis 66-38 in the first round to qualify for their 12th consecutive state tournament.

“I think we learned a lot about ourselves as a team at the LSI because we were losing and missing players,” senior Gabe Reichle said. “It really brought us closer together. We sort of figured out who we are, and it was a really good experience for us. … It prepared us for now and the teams we’re playing in this tournament.”

Added Reber: “It helped our confidence, starting the season playing against such good teams. Playing those teams first and then going into league, it just made things easier.”

Everything looked easy in the first quarter of Wednesday’s quarterfinal for the Wildcats, who opened with a 9-0 run that seemingly occurred in the blink of an eye. Shivers delivered a perfect lob pass to Reber for a two-handed slam on the game’s first possession.

“Me and Keegan just have that connection,” Reber said. “He knows where to throw it and I just go get it.”

Reber canned a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it 19-9 after one quarter. Reichle had 11 points in the first half — including a transition one-handed slam — as Wilsonville entered the break up 31-18.

The Bulldogs (20-6), making their first state tournament appearance since 2014, continued to hang around and pulled within eight at 48-40 on TJ Zimmermann's jumper with about five minutes remaining. But the Wildcats’ efficient offense was too much down the stretch for the Mid-Willamette runners-up.

“Our guys made a run like we knew we could, it just wasn’t quite enough,” West Albany coach Derek Duman said. “We were one basket away from me calling timeout and kind of getting us to catch our breath. I think we lost our wind after that big run.

“I would’ve loved to see us down six with three minutes left. I think it would’ve been a fun finish.”

Wilsonville shot a staggering 24 of 32 (75 percent) from the field, finishing with more turnovers (11) than missed field goals. The Bulldogs were 17 of 41 (41.5 percent) overall and 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) from three-point range.

“Everybody on the floor can score for them, and they’re all 6-2 or higher,” Duman said. “We’ve got some big kids as well, but when their 6-6 is elevating over our 6-2 with a hand in his face and scoring, there’s not much more you can do defensively.”

Reber led all players with 20 points to go with three rebounds and three assists. Andrew Classen added 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Reichle had 15 points, four assists and four steals.

The Wildcats have won three of the past four state championships and are trying to reach the title game for the sixth consecutive year.

“I think we’re playing really well right now,” Reichle said. “But I think we can play even better.”

Zimmermann paced the Bulldogs with 14 points.

Earlier in the day, Churchill netted the game’s first 11 points in a runaway 70-47 victory over No. 8 Crook County.

Brian Goracke led the Midwestern champions with 23 points and eight rebounds, and Isaiah Wallace chipped in 15 points. Evan Pia (12 points, five assists, four rebounds) and Silas Bennion (10 points, five assists, five rebounds) also shined for the Lancers, who are in the state tournament for the ninth consecutive season.

Eastern Washington signee Kaelan O’Neil is not with Churchill for the state tournament.

 

 

West's rally not enough to knock off defending champions

by Jarrid Denney, Corvallis Gazette-Times

March 11, 2020

There were plenty of moments Wednesday when West Albany's boys basketball team could have simply folded and decided it wasn't their day.

Matched up against the defending state champions, a Wilsonville team that hasn't lost a game in over three months and has yet to lose to a 5A opponent this season, West found itself in a deep hole early as the Wildcats unleashed an offensive barrage.

And yet, with five minutes to go, the Bulldogs had the Wildcats on their heels and trailed by just eight points have falling behind by 16 a few minutes earlier.

"We just kind of got mad," West guard Austin Stanaway said. "We don't wanna lose. We didn't want to give up and we just tried to get it as close as we could."

The Bulldogs ultimately fell short and lost 61-42 in the 5A quarterfinals at Gill Coliseum. Wilsonville shot 75 percent from the field (24-of-32) and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 18-17.  But for a two-minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter, West went on an 8-0 run to make if 48-40 and force a Wilsonville timeout.

"We continued to compete until the very end," West coach Derek Duman said. "Our guys made a run like we knew we could. It just wasn't quite enough. We were one basket away from me calling a timeout and getting us to catch our breath... I would have loved to see us down six with three minutes left, I think it would have been a fun finish."

West got a team-high 14 points from junior forward TJ Zimmerman, including eight in the second half. With just under five minutes to go, he made a difficult, one-footed fadeaway over two Wilsonville defenders to cut the Wildcats lead to 48-40.

Koby Ruiz then stole a pass to get the ball back for the Bulldogs, but West failed to score on its next two shots. From that point, Wilsonville closed out the game on a 13-2 run.

"That's a really good basketball team," Duman said. "They're a really good program. That's why they've been in the state championship for five consecutive years."

Wilsonville's Dakota Reber slammed home a massive dunk on a lob from Keegan Shivers on the first play of the game, and that set the tone for the Wildcats. They started on a 9-0 run and led 31-18 by halftime.

Reber scored a game-high 20 points, and Gabe Reichle had 15 points, four assists and four steals.

"They can all shoot the ball," Stanaway said of Wilsonville. "They crash the boards. They're big. When they go down low, they can just score from everywhere."

The Bulldogs will now shift their focus to the consolation bracket, where they have a chance to take fourth place in their first trip to the state tournament since 2014. For a team features four juniors in its starting lineup, the rest of the week could be a valuable learning experience for West.

"This season has been really important," Duman said. "Even more important is tomorrow morning. That's where we're gonna see the character of our kids. We had to do that earlier this year, wake up and play early in the morning. We really responded well. I expect our kids to do that again tomorrow."

The Bulldogs will face No. 8 Crook County at 9 a.m. at Gill Coliseum Thursday. The Cowboys lost 70-47 to No. 1 Churchill earlier on Wednesday.

Wilsonville 61, West Albany 42

WILSONVILLE    19 12 11 19 - 61

WEST ALBANY  09 09 09 15 - 42

WEST ALBANY (20-6) - TJ Zimmerman 7-15 0-0 14; Justin Henderson 3-5 1-2 7; Luke Killinger 2-4 2-2 7; Austin Stanaway 2-4 0-0 6; Koby Ruiz 3-10 0-0 6; LJ Carmichael 0-0 2-2 2; Zach Reese 0-0 0-0 0; Michael Cale 0-3 0-0 0; Justin Whittier 0-0 0-0 0; Brayden Campbell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-41 5-6 42.

WILSONVILLE (22-5) - Dakota Reber 8-10 3-5 20; Andrew Classen 6-6 3-3 16; Gabe Reichle 6-7 3-5 15; Keegan Shivers 3-7 0-0 8; Logan Thebiay 1-2 0-0 2; Cason Dougall 0-0 0-0 0; Riley Scanlan 0-0 0-0 0; Kellen Hartford 0-0 0-0 0; Chase Hix 0-0 0-0 0; Hiro Kondo 0-0 0-0 0; Finlay Dunn 0-0 0-0 0; Tristan Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-32 9-13 61.


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

326shares

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.”

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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.