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Coachability and young players stepping up led to 12-2 regular season, second place league finish

ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Despite not making it into the quarterfinals of the state tournament, the Wilsonville girls basketball team will be strong heading into next year with several returning playmakers. It was quite the season for Wilsonville's girls basketball team. The Wildcats went 20-5 over the course of the winter sports season, and 12-2 to lock down second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference. It was a drastic improvement over last year's record, 15-11, which saw the team post an 8-6 record in league and claim fourth in league.

Part of the reason was an influx of talented players and shooters, including the transfers of junior Emily Scanlan from North Marion and junior Reese Timm from La Salle. Another area the team stepped up was with contributions from freshmen who earned their place on the team, particularly Emilia Bishop and Sydney Burns.

"It's hard to point out one or even just a few players that rose to the occasion over the season just because of the balance we had across our varsity contributors," coach Justin Duke said. "But I thought Sydney and Emilia did a great job of coming in and working their way in to the rotations."

And of course, it would be folly to neglect the returning players who stepped up all season to battle it out on the court with the best. Juniors Teagan McNamee and Cydney Gutridge, senior Jessica Classen and sophomore Kayla Hieb all showed up and contributed to the team's success in points, assists, steals and rebounds. It really was an all-around effort by the Wildcats.

Duke acknowledged as much and his enthusiasm is buoyed by the returning strength of his team.

"I thought we took some big strides forward this season," Duke said. "I'm really excited about the results and effort from the kids in the program. With us losing just one senior to graduation the future is really bright for the program."

Over the course of the season, Wilsonville scored a grand total of 1,506 points, an astounding 39 points more than NWOC champions La Salle Prep, and as the highest scoring offense in all of 5A girls basketball.

"I think this group was really coachable and allowed us to do some things offensively we haven't been able to do in the past," Duke said. "We ended the season as the top scoring offense in 5A and I think we have an opportunity to be even better next year."

The consistent high output is impressive, especially given the grind of four-month season.

"One of the toughest things about the winter sports season is the length and overall time commitment that the kids and families make to be a part of it," Duke said. "I thought our effort and approach to practices and games was the best it's been in the last three years."

While the loss to Crater in the opening round of the state playoffs was a tough defeat to swallow, the team played with a heart and drive that gave Duke and his coaching staff reason to be excited for the season to come.

"I think the reaction and emotion of our last game of the season will carry over stronger than ever," Duke said. "This group was really determined to be a part of the Final 8 at Gill Coliseum and when we came up a little bit short I saw a lot of determination and desire to not have that feeling again."

While the team had an incredibly successful season, there will be changes made in the offseason. Expect the same crew to show up, but perhaps find them in different spots filling different needs.

"We will use the month of June to look at some position changes and simplify what we want to do defensively," Duke said. "We've got a lot of returning players so we'll be able to spend some time improving individual skills and also integrating our incoming freshman in to the program over the summer."

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