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Boys basketball: Wilsonville taking measured approach to NWOC title race

Wildcats in contention for share of fifth title in six years


by: JEFF GOODMAN - Wilsonville boys basketball coach Chris Roche wants clarification on a call Feb. 11 during a home game against Sandy. The Wildcats prevailed to stay in the race for a league title.Last year, the Wilsonville boys basketball team won its fifth-consecutive state trophy by taking fourth place at the OSAA championships. That was after settling for fourth place in its own league.

Which begs the question: What would a Northwest Oregon Conference championship mean to this year’s Wildcats?

As the regular season comes to a close, they are very much in the running for at least a share of it.

They were scheduled to play Feb. 18 at Liberty and host Parkrose on Feb. 20 before a highly anticipated duel with Sherwood on the road Feb. 25 — a clash that has major implications for the conference standings.

With four games left, eighth-ranked Wilsonville (16-4, 9-1 in the NWOC) was tied with No. 7 Sherwood (16-3, 9-1) for first place. The Bowmen, though, currently own the tiebreaker after winning the teams' first meeting.

That fact adds to the intrigue of the teams’ upcoming meeting — their last in league play before Sherwood moves to Class 6A next year. It could decide the conference champion.

The Wildcats are trying to take a measured approach.

“It means a lot to us,” sophomore wing Tyler Hieb said. “But we’re just trying to take every game by itself.”

Added senior wing Zach Malvar: “It’s a goal, but in the end we want to make it as far as we can in state.”

Malvar has helped put the Wildcats in position to contend for a league title, scoring a game-high 22 points to lead them in a 52-36 win over Sandy in a pivotal game at home Feb. 11.

Wilsonville jumped out to a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and remained in control the rest of the way to secure a season sweep of the Pioneers (16-4, 7-3).

The Wildcats’ stifling defense created problems for Sandy, whose attempted passes into the paint were often deflected or stolen.

Nine different players scored for the Pioneers, but none reached double figures. Senior forward Austin Gorski was the team leader with eight points, while senior Zach Gilbert and junior Canyon Dwyre each added five.

Sandy was able to pull within 27-20 in the third quarter on back-to-back baskets by Gorski, but Wilsonville responded with consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore point guard Sam Bullock and Malvar to take a 13-point lead into the final frame.

Hieb added 10 points for the Wildcats, who handled a variety of defensive schemes despite missing out on practice time due to the recent snowstorm.

“We just tried to move the ball against their zones, get into gaps, attack inside-out and then hit the offensive boards,” coach Chris Roche said. “It was not our best game offensively — and I think that might have partially been because of the layoff and our lack of practice. They are big, strong and good at what they do, too — so that was a factor. But fortunately for us, our defense and rebounding were good enough that it really did not matter much.”

Wilsonville’s defense has given opponents fits all season. Through 10 conference games, it has given up an average of just 39.4 points per game.

The Wildcats held St. Helens to five points in the first half of a 48-35 victory in its third-annual “Silent Night” game at home Feb. 14, and they outscored Putnam 23-7 in the third quarter of a 61-42 triumph on the road the following night.

But as Wilsonville competes for at least a share of its eighth league title in school history, Roche said the team still needs improvement in many areas of the game.

“We would love to win the league championship, but we understand that is a process,” he said. “What is most important to us right now is improving and trying to put together efforts marked by great attitude and exceptional effort every time out. We want to become a team that practices and prepares better. We want to grow as leaders. We want to push toward reaching our potential as a team. These are the things that occupy our thoughts.

“The rest of the stuff — the league championship, the RPI, the playoffs and on and on — all of that will sort itself out appropriately in due time.  We don’t need to worry about any of that right now. What we need to do is to play hard, lead better and work to be as good as we can be.”

***

AT A GLANCE

Wilsonville 52, Sandy 36

Feb. 11 at Wilsonville High School

                        1          2          3          4          F

Sandy              4          10        6          16 — 36

Wilsonville      13        10        10        19 — 52

Sandy (36): Austin Gorski 8, Canyon Dwyre 5, Zach Gilbert 5, Timmy Grozav 4, Miles Brown 4, Carson Dwyre 3, Braden Luff 3, Juan Ruiz 2, Tyler New 2.

Wilsonville (52): Zach Malvar 22, Tyler Hieb 10, Sam Bullock 7, Zach Reichle 5, Jack McNulty 4, Keenan McClellan 2, Tyler Martin 1, Harrison Steiger 1.



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