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Boys basketball: Late free throw lifts Wilsonville over Wilson in OT in 5A playoffs

Wildcats clinch sixth-straight trip to OSAA quarterfinals


by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - The Wilsonville boys basketball team celebrates its overtime win over Wilson in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs March 8. The Wildcats advanced to the state quarterfinals for the sixth year in a row.A trip to the state quarterfinals has become an annual ritual for the Wilsonville boys basketball team, a proud tradition for the program that was hanging dangerously in the balance Saturday night.

Leave it to a freshman at the foul line to preserve it.

With 3.3 seconds left in overtime, Zach Reichle calmly stepped to the stripe and sank the game-winning free throw in the eighth-ranked Wildcats’ wild 37-36 triumph over No. 9 Portland-Wilson in the first round Class 5A state playoffs.

Wilsonville (19-6) secured its sixth-consecutive trip to the OSAA tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals for the ninth time in school history — all since 2003. It will face top-seeded Portland-Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. March 13 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.

“We’re proud of (the streak), but we’re more happy for this group right now,” coach Chris Roche said as his players took turns climbing a ladder for a net-cutting ceremony. “I want to celebrate these kids because they fought. It took everything we had, but we had enough.”

With the Trojans (14-11) working for a final shot with the game tied at 36-36 the last minute of the extra period, Reichle corralled the ball after a steal by the Wildcats. Inexplicably, he was fouled.

“It was nerve-racking,” he said. “I knew I could make it, but my legs were kind of shaking a little bit.”

Reichle drained the front end of the one-and-one opportunity and intentionally missed the second shot. Wilson’s half-court heave fell short as time expired.

“There’s nobody I’d rather have at the line,” Roche said of Reichle, who has made about 80-percent of his foul shots this season to lead Wilsonville. “With the game on the line, I’d bet on him every time. That was clutch.”

Reichle’s free throw culminated a series of timely plays by the Wildcats, who trailed 27-26 midway through the fourth quarter after a 7-0 run by Wilson that included three free throws by junior guard Ben Lensch.

Sam Bullock drilled a 3-pointer — his only basket after halftime — to put Wilsonville up by two. After a drive and bucket by Lensch, Reichle slashed into the lane to give his team a 31-29 lead with 2:50 to play.

Senior wing Bailey Sadorf answered for the Trojans, who then burned the last minute of regulation with the ball in their possession and the game tied at 31-31. But Wildcats senior Zach Malvar blocked a close-range shot by Lensch in the closing seconds to extend the game.

“Just got lucky, I guess,” Malvar said. “I just saw it and went up for it. ... We knew we had a great chance going into overtime, and that if we rebounded and took care of the ball we’d be good.”

Sophomore wing Tyler Hieb scored a game-high 13 points, Malvar added seven and Reichle chipped in six. Lensch led Wilson with 10.

Hieb carried Wilsonville in the first half with 11 points, including buzzer-beating shots at the end of the first and second quarters.

With the Wildcats trailing 9-4 late in the opening period, Hieb hit a well-defended turnaround fadeaway from the left elbow. Just before halftime, he swished a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Wilsonville its first lead of the game at 17-15.

“Just luck — that was adrenaline, pretty much,” Hieb said. “This means a lot to us — it’s what we always dreamed of this year. And we’re not just looking to go (to Eugene) — we’re looking to go deep.”

The Wildcats’ first obstacle in the OSAA tournament comes in the form of defending state champion Jefferson (23-1), whose only loss came during the Les Schwab Invitational at the hands of three-time Washington state champion Seattle-Rainier Beach.

“That’ll be a real tough game,” Reichle said, “but we’ll see if we can do it.”

The Democrats are led by Gonzaga-bound senior Silas Melson, who scored a game-high 41 points in their 82-78 win over Springfield in the opening round.

The Wilsonville-Jefferson winner will advance to the March 14 semifinals to face either No. 4 Eagle Point or No. 5 West Albany. The two losers will meet in the consolation bracket.

The quarterfinals will also pit Northwest Oregon Conference champion Sherwood against Portland-Madison and second-seeded Churchill against No. 7 Bend.

The Wildcats are 1-4 against the Democrats since the OSAA created six athletic classes, winning the teams’ most recent meeting in the 2012 round of 16. Jefferson won the schools’ previous quarterfinal clash in 2010 by a score of 49-41 en route to capturing its third-straight state title.

Wilsonville, which won its first and only OSAA championship in 2005, has compiled a 140-30 record since the start of the 2008-09 campaign. It has earned a state trophy in each of the last five seasons.

The opportunity to compete for a sixth was a goal for Malvar and Tyler Martin, the roster’s only two graduating players.

“It’s hard to be two seniors with a bunch of 14- and 15-year-olds who can’t drive,” Roche said. “It presents a lot of challenges. Those two guys have worked hard, given their all and obviously done a great job of leading.”

Added Reichle: “I wanted to have them end their great senior year with one more time in Eugene.”

***

AT A GLANCE

Wilsonville 37, Wilson 36 (OT)

March 8 at Wilsonville High School

1 2 3 4 OT F

Wilson 9 6 5 11 5 — 36

Wilsonville 6 11 9 5 6 — 37

Wilson (36): Ben Lensch 10, Bailey Sadorf 8, Jack Rubin 5, Teddy Floom 5, Cole Conklin 4, Matthew Slayton 4.

Wilsonville (37): Tyler Hieb 13, Zach Malvar 7, Zach Reichle 6, Sam Bullock 5, Jack McNulty 3, Tyler Martin 3.

***

AT A GLANCE

A look at Wilsonville’s last five games against Portland-Jefferson:

March 7, 2008: JEFFERSON 69, Wilsonville 51 (round of 16)

March 11, 2010: Jefferson 49, Wilsonville 41 (quarterfinals)

Dec. 28, 2010: Jefferson 51, Wilsonville 33 (Les Schwab Invitational)

Dec. 28, 2011: Jefferson 58, Wilsonville 52 (Les Schwab Invitational)

March 3, 2012: WILSONVILLE 60, Jefferson 44 (round of 16)


By Jeff Goodman
Sports editor
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