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The Wildcats seek on court chemistry as they hunt Northwest Oregon Conference championship

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - 2016 All-league honorable mention Teagan McNamee returns to the team as a junior and one of the teams leaders in the upcoming season.The Wilsonville girls basketball team did pretty well last year. The Wildcats team record at the end of the season was 15-11, not perfect but above .500. They finished fourth place in the Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC) behind powerhouse La Salle Prep, Hillsboro, and Putnam. Last year Wilsonville's season ended in the first round of the playoffs against Marist Catholic.

The team looks to push into the top three of the league and figures to have the athletes to do it.

Returning to the fold are junior guard Cydney Gutridge, junior wing Teagan McNamee, and lone senior wing and post Jessica Classen. Gutridge earned second team all-league honors and McNamee earned all-league honorable mention last year.

Along with those three leaders of the team, head coach Justin Duke has a handful of talented transfer students who will add to the Wildcats arsenal.

"(Junior wing) Reese Timm, (junior post) Hannah McKinney, and (junior wing) Emily Scanlan are all transfers that finished 2nd team all-league in their respective conferences," Duke said. "Reese and Hannah played Summer League with us in June and have an idea of what we're doing offensively and defensively. Emily Scanlan is a three sport athlete that will add some athleticism for us and has come in to practice focused on learning our system and will continue to improve as she gets comfortable."

The team is relatively young having only the aforementioned Classen as a representative of the senior class. Last year the Wildcats graduated wing Sophie Bynum, guard Katie Trese, guard Kristen Burke, and guard Elizabeth Morris. Going forward, Duke realizes that it will require some teambuilding to find the right combination on the court.

"To do well this year we just need a lot of court time together and learning where all of our pieces fit together," Duke said. "We have size and speed and will be able to put a lot of different lineups out on the floor over the next two months to determine the identity of our team as we move in to conference play."

It is that same size and speed that looks to put the Wildcats into contention for the league title, and into the first rounds of the playoffs this year. It will not be easy though, as the NWOC is one of the most competitive leagues in the state.

"We should be very competitive in the NWOC this year and believe we can compete with any team in our league," Duke said. "With a lot of new faces we will need to develop some chemistry and identify some rotations and how best to use all of our players between now and January to ensure we are in a position to do that. The NWOC sent three teams to the final eight last year and I expect the league to be very competitive again this year which will help all the NWOC teams prepare for the playoffs."

Of particular interest, the aforementioned La Salle Prep Falcons will be the strongest competition on the season, as well as Hillsboro and Parkrose. Another team to watch out for is the Sandy Pioneers who were behind the Wildcats last year by only a single game. Duke has his eyes set on the top of the league though.

"LaSalle is the defending State Champions so until someone beats them, they haven't lost a conference game since moving to 5A four years ago, they have to be the favorite," Duke said. "Our goal is to put ourselves in a position to compete with them and Hillsboro for a chance to win a League Championship."

The Wildcats start their season with a jamboree at home featuring Madison and Crescent Valley on Nov. 29, and the first game of the season will be against Hermiston in tournament play on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

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