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Bulldogs reach state quarterfinals in consecutive seasons first time in program history

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Woodburn junior Jeovanny Marroquin led the Bulldogs with 23 points in the team's 67-63 overtime victory over the Marshfield Pirates on Friday.COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Junior guard Jonathan Marroquin added 21 points in Bulldogs victory, giving Woodburn a rare night with two 20-point contributors.The Woodburn boys basketball team may have needed a few additional minutes to get the job done, but the Bulldogs were able to check off a season-long goal of returning to the 4A state quarterfinal tournament with a 67-63 overtime victory over the Marshfield Pirates Friday at Woodburn High School.

It was a tall order for a Woodburn team that entered the 2019-20 season with more question marks than returning players, but vindication for a system that emphasized depth and defense on its way to back-to-back quarterfinal appearances for the first time in program history.

"All the boys have bought in," head coach Raul Veliz said. "We tweaked the system a little this year, and once they bought in, that made it a little bit easier."

It was those returning players — junior Jeovanny Marroquin and senior Reese Miller — along with occasional varsity call-up last year, Jonathan Marroquin, that paved the way for victory against a Marshfield team (16-9) that weathered a strong start by the Bulldogs to force overtime.

Jeovanny Marroquin led the team with 23 points and Jonathan Marroquin had 21, while Miller defended the interior and gave Woodburn plenty of second-chance opportunities.

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Woodburn senior Reese Miller punished the Pirates on the offensive glass Friday night, giving the Bulldogs a number of second-chance scoring opportunities."Reese was unbelievable on the boards," Veliz said. "He must have had maybe 15 rebounds and maybe half were offensive. We really put an emphasis on that (as) an an area we could take advantage of."

But it was reserve wing Carter Nelson that provided the play of the night for the Bulldogs, coming off the bench to hit a clutch 3-point shot from the corner in overtime that ultimately propelled Woodburn to the win.

"That was huge," Veliz said. "They were going into a zone, and we saw the opening was in the corner. It was exactly what we had planned and got the shot we wanted out of it."

Nelson's shot was a microcosm of the team's plug-and-play system this season that eschewed the traditional primary scoring option in favor of the hot hand on a night-to-night basis. While the two Marroquins have led the team in scoring on a number of nights, it hasn't been unusual to see players like Miller, Jordan Blem, Tomas Veliz, Cole Beyer, Jose Lua or others go off on a given night.

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Woodburn sophomore Tomas Veliz and the Bulldog boys basketball team reached the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in program history and first time in consecutive seasons."That's just the way we've kind of decided what this season is going to be focused on," Veliz said. "It's hopefully hard to scout. "

"Our highest average may be 11.9 points per game and then the next three guys were all at 8 points per game," he added. "It gives us a good team game. It's worked for us this year."

Woodburn (18-7) now turns its attention to a familiar foe in the 3-seed North Marion Huskies (20-5), the state's leading 4A offense at just over 68 points per game.

The two teams opened the season on Dec. 4 with a 73-66 victory in favor of the Bulldogs and face off Thursday at 8:15 p.m. at Joe Moran Court at Forest Grove High School.

The winner will advance to the semifinals Friday against either 7-seed Klamath Union (18-7) or 2-seed Philomath (20-4).

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Woodburn senior Carter Nelson hit a clutch corner 3-point shot in overtime to help give the Bulldogs the cushion needed to outlast the visiting Marshfield Pirates in the first round of the state playoffs.

WOODBURN BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF APPEARANCES

1960

1995 — Quarterfinals, 2nd place

2003

2005

2007

2008

2009

2011 — Quarterfinals, No place

2019 — Quarterfinals, 5th place

2020 — Quarterfinals, TBD


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