Sherwood beats Wilsonville in the fourth-place game to clinch best-ever finish at the state tourney

by: DAN BROOD - BIG GAME -- Sherwood senior post Jordan Kurahara (30) goes up to the basket during the Bowmen's 50-43 win over Wilsonville. Kurahara scored 23 points in the victory.EUGENE — It’s easy to say that the Sherwood High School boys basketball team has enjoyed a historic season.

After all, the Bowmen won their first league championship since 2006 and they advanced to state-tournament play for the first time since 2008.

So, it’s almost fitting that the Sherwood squad ended its season by, well, coming away with a historic win. And, to make things even better, the Bowmen got that historic win against its heated rival.

Sherwood wrapped up what could possibly be considered the best season in school history by scoring a 50-43 win over rival Wilsonville in the Class 5A state tournament fourth-place game played Saturday at the Matthew Knight Arena.

by: DAN BROOD - GOOD JOB -- Sherwood sen'or Lucas Johnson (left) and junior Evan Kitto congratulate each other following the Bowmen's 50-43 win over Wilsonville in the fourth-place game at the Class state tournament. The fourth-place finish marks the highest state placing ever for a Bowmen boys basketball team.

“That was a good way to end the season — on a winning note,” Sherwood senior forward Lucas Johnson said after the victory. “It felt really good to beat Wilsonville for the third time.”

“We made history,” Sherwood senior guard Keegan Lawrence said. “Our first goal was to win league. The next goal was to get here and, now, we placed fourth.”

“And we swept Wilsonville,” Sherwood junior Ben Milligan added with a smile.

“We were extra motivated,” said Sherwood senior post Jordan Kurahara, who led all scorers in the contest with 23 points. “We knew we could make history. This is pretty darn close to a perfect way to end the season. It was nice to finish with a win. That feels good, and to finish with a win over Wilsonville is really nice.”

Wilsonville, which finished second to Sherwood in the final Northwest Oregon Conference standings, finished its season with a final overall record of 20-8.

by: DAN BROOD - ALL TOGETHER -- The Sherwood High School boys basketball team had the best placing in school history with its fourth-place finish at the Class 5A state tournament, which ended Saturday at the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. “Kudos to them,” Sherwood coach Tony Merrill said. “They were phenomenal.”

Sherwood, the NWOC champion, concluded its historic season with a final record of 22-5.

“It was a great season,” Merrill said. “The kids really played well down the stretch.”

And that certainly would include Saturday’s tourney game, where the Bowmen were motivated to go up against the rival Wildcats one last time.

“It was our last time to play them,” Sherwood junior Tommy Paul said. “We were ready.”

They sure were.

The 6-foot-9 Kurahara scored three points in the first 1 minute and 31 seconds of the game, two coming on a short-range turnaround jumper, to give the Bowmen a quick 3-0 lead.

Wilsonville, like Sherwood’s other tournament opponents, then chose to collapse down on Kurahara every time he got the ball.

Kurahara and the Bowmen made the Wildcats pay for that strategy.

When Kurahara got the ball down low, with two or three Wilsonville defenders around him, he kicked the ball out to an open teammate.

by: DAN BROOD - TROPHY TIME -- Sherwood High School players and coaches gather with the fourth-place trophy following the team's win over Wilsonville in the Class 5A state tournament fourth-place game in Eugene. That lead to a three-pointer by Lawrence, coming from the left wing, a three-pointer by Johnson, coming from the left corner and a three-pointer by senior guard Alex Castaneda, from the left wing. The three long-range baskets gave Sherwood a 12-6 lead with 2:23 left in the first quarter.

“That was key,” Kurahara said. “I passed it out, and everyone hit the shots.”

Johnson added a bank shot later in the quarter to give the Bowmen a 14-9 lead at the end of opening period.

Sherwood continued its strong play in the second quarter. Kurahara opened the period with a basket coming on a step-over drive to the bucket. He then scored on a three-foot banker to give the Bowmen an 18-11 advantage with 3:01 left in the quarter.

In the next Sherwood possession, Kurahara had another kick-out pass to an open Lawrence at the top of the circle. Lawrence, who fills the role of the Bowmen’s defensive stopper, then buried his second three-pointer of the contest to give Sherwood a double-digit lead, at 21-11, with 2:29 remaining before halftime.

by: DAN BROOD - GOOD FOR THREE --Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence fires away for the second of his two three-point baskets in the win over Wilsonville. “I don’t know how I did it,” Lawrence said with a laugh. “Jordan just has good vision.”

“Keegan pulled it off at the perfect time,” Merrill said. “We always count on him on defense, but he really helped us on offense today.”

Kurahara scored off an assist from junior guard Evan Kitto later in the second quarter, helping the Bowmen take a 23-15 halftime lead.

The Bowmen kept rolling early in the second half. Johnson sank a three-pointer off a pass from Kitto and Kurahara had back-to-back baskets to push the Sherwood lead back to 10, at 30-20, with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

But Wilsonville came battling back. The Wildcats, with sophomore guard Sam Bullock scoring five points, cut the margin to 34-29 going into the fourth quarter.

The Bowmen got a three-pointer from senior Cortland Hutchison to open the final stanza, but the Wildcats came storming back again. Wilsonville scored five straight points, all from the foul line, to trim the lead to 37-34 with 6:34 remaining.

Sherwood answered back. Kurahara had a pair of baskets and Johnson added a jumper to up the margin to 43-34 with 3:31 left in the game.

The Wildcats had one more run in them. Wilsonville sophomore forward Tyler Hieb converted a four-point play and followed that up with a short-range banker to cut the lead to 46-42 with 53 seconds left in the game.

But the Bowmen wouldn’t be denied.

Milligan went 2 for 2 from the stripe after he was fouled on a drive with 37 seconds left to play. Then, after Hieb went 1 for 2 from the free throw line, Kurahara made both of his foul shots when he was fouled with 11.3 seconds left to play, making the score 50-43.

An errant last-second Wilsonville shot left the ball in Kurahara’s hands as the horn sounded, signaling Sherwood’s history-making win, and a three-game season sweep over the rival Wildcats.

“We did it,” Kitto said of his first thoughts at the end of the game.

“I felt proudness,” Lawrence said.

“And we swept Wilsonville,” Milligan added. “3-0.”by: DAN BROOD - BOUNCE PASS -- Sherwood junior Tommy Paul gets the ball inside during play Saturday at the Class 5A state tournament.

Kurahara made his final Sherwood game one of his best. He led all scorers in the fourth-place contest with 23 points on a 10-for-13 shooting night from the field. He also had game-high totals of eight rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.

“Jordan was amazing,” Kitto said.

“I felt like Jordan finished his season in a way that represented what he did for us all year,” Merrill said. “He was very poised.”

“I just tried to play my game,” said Kurahara, who was a second-team all-tournament pick.

Johnson, who also was a second-team all-tourney pick, added 10 points, on 4 for 5 shooting, and four rebounds in Saturday’s contest. Lawrence scored six points. Hutchison, Milligan and Castaneda each had three points and Kitto scored two.

Sherwood, as a team, made 18 of 28 shots from the field in the win while also outrebounding the Wildcats by a 24-14 margin.

Hieb led Wilsonville with 24 points.

by: DAN BROOD - BOWMEN ON THE GO -- Sherwood senior guard Alex Castaneda (right) passes the ball up court. Saturday’s game marked the final high school basketball contest for Sherwood seniors Lawrence, Castaneda, Johnson, Hutchison and Kurahara.

“They gave us leadership and great play,” Merrill said of the seniors. “They set the tone for the season.”

“It’s a great group of guys,” Kurahara said. “I’ll miss all of them.”

Next year, Sherwood will be moving up to play in the Class 6A Three Rivers League.

“That’s going to be a new challenge,” Merrill said. “We’ll have a different sort of team next year, but I love the kids we have coming back.”

Other players on Sherwood’s state tournament roster include sophomore Adam Vasquez, freshman David Morris, junior Evan Thomson, freshman Luka Nixon and junior Jake Sather.

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