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.
"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.
"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).
WOODBURN BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF APPEARANCES
1995 — Quarterfinals, 2nd place
2011 — Quarterfinals, No place
2019 — Quarterfinals, 5th place
2020 — Quarterfinals, TBD
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