Wilsonville girls basketball escapes La Salle Prep 61-60
It wasn't a typical performance for Wilsonville senior point guard Sydney Burns on Monday night at rival La Salle Prep in a 5A Northwest Oregon Conference girls basketball showdown.
Up until the final minute, the reigning NWOC Player of the Year had taken only four shots and scored two points.
But with the game on the line, the UC Davis-bound Burns came through. She hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, and after La Salle regained the lead, Burns found junior Grace Gatto for the game-winning layup with six seconds left as the Wildcats prevailed 61-60 at La Salle High School.
"Holy cow. That's Sydney," Wilsonville coach Justin Duke said. "She's a teammate first over everything else and she'll do whatever it takes to help us win. Just the trust that she saw there at the end with Grace, to find her down low, is huge for us."
Burns, who averaged 13.6 points as a junior, credited La Salle Prep for holding her to five points.
"It was hard to find a shot," Burns said. "As a point guard, my job is to make the team wi so it doesn't matter how many points I score. Maybe I'm a decoy on offense."
Trailing 60-59, Wilsonville called timeout with 10 seconds left to set up a play. Burns drove from the top of the key and found Gatto open on the weak side near the basket. Gatto scored and was fouled by Falcons junior Mia Skoro.
"I'm very grateful. Sydney has a great head so she can see the floor," Gatto said. "I didn't think I was open, but apparently I was. I just went up and I knew my teammates had faith in me."
Gatto missed the ensuing free throw, La Salle Prep rebounded and rushed up the court, but Skoro's deep 3-point attempt barely nicked the front of the rim as time expired.
Junior guard Karina Borgen made four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 24 points for Wilsonville. The Wildcats also got 15 points from Northern Colorado-bound senior post Emilia Bishop and eight points from Gatto.
Sophomore Ella Wedin, senior Amanda Sisul and sophomore Emma Buchanan scored 16, 15 and 14 points, respectively, for La Salle Prep (2-1).
The Falcons are playing the season without standout senior point guard Addi Wedin. She suffered a torn ACL in December and is rehabbing as she prepares to join her sister Taycee on the team at Saint Mary's.
"It's been really hard," said Falcons coach Kelli Wedin, Addi's mother. "I get a little emotional about it here and there, but she's going to move on and do great things."
As part of a senior night celebration Monday, Addi Wedin started the game and Wilsonville players stood down and allowed her to score the game's first basket before she was quickly subbed out. In turn, La Salle Prep allowed Burns a free layup on the other end.
"That was huge," Kelli Wedin said. "I didn't tell her until late last night. I made sure it was going to be OK with everybody. It was special. I just thought she deserved that one last opportunity to suit up."
Monday's game was just the latest heart-stopper between the two Class 5A powers, who split their conference series and shared the NWOC title the last two seasons.
In 2019, La Salle Prep defeated the Wildcats in the 5A semifinals. Last season, the teams were slated to meet in the state semifinals before the tournament was halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The intensity Monday seemed to build as the game progressed.
"We certainly wish Addi was out there tonight," Duke said, "but this is what we miss, getting an opportunity to play. I know we'll play them again one more time."
The win was much needed for Wilsonville (3-1), which lost to visiting Milwaukie 57-52 in a conference game last week. The Wildcats visit the Mustangs on Wednesday.
"It's a weird time in the season," Burns said. "We graduate in a week and a half. But we just want to finish well together. It was a slow start last week. We had eight or nine girls to practice some days and it just wasn't what we're used to. But we're picking up. We're not where we were last year and we might not get there, but we're having fun and we're getting better every day."
Bishop scored eight consecutive points as Wilsonville took a 31-26 lead at half, and Borgen caught fire with 15 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Wildcats up 51-42.
But Buchanan scored seven points during an 11-0 run as La Salle Prep pulled ahead 53-51. Wedin scored on a left-handed leaner to put the Falcons up 58-56 with 1:00 left, and Sisul converted a drive to give them their final lead at 60-59 with 47 seconds to go.
Jerry Ulmer writes for OSAAtoday
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