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The Woodburn girls fell to the Warriors 50-29; the boys lost a gritty game 60-49.

How a team bounces back from a defeat can reveal quite a lot about them. Woodburn High School's basketball teams will have a chance to reveal something about their character, as both the boys and girls teams were defeated by visiting Philomath on Friday, Jan. 14.

The boys fell to the Warriors 60-49. The girls, who opened the night's doubleheader, were defeated 50-29.

Both teams faced a disadvantage against the Philomath squads size-wise, although it was more pronounced for the girls. Philomath started two players over 6 feet tall, junior post Abigail Brown at 6-3 and senior post Cassidy Lewis at 6-1. Woodburn was playing with a size disadvantage, but it wasn't as apparent in the first half. The Bulldogs kept Philomath to just 25 points after 16 minutes of play.

The trouble came on the offensive side of things. The Warriors kept Woodburn from getting many good looks at the basket and second chance points, and the home team had just five made field goals at the half. Woodburn's leading scorers in the game were senior guard Aria Kent with nine points, sophomore Alyana Ramirez with seven points and sophomore Kiara Bryant with six points.

"The biggest difference was the boards," Woodburn girls coach George Sandoval said after the game. "They came out and they were out-rebounding us. They're a lot taller team. We battled, but we have to come up with a different scheme. We weren't running our scheme, our offense wasn't moving the ball correctly from side to side. But they had their bigs, too. We just got to work on that."

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn junior Nayeli Zepeda drives into the lane against Philomath on Friday, Jan. 14.

Defensively the team wasn't as aggressive in pressuring the ball as Sandoval wanted. It was one of the lessons the coaches took from the game. Part of the issue, according to Sandoval, was a non-COVID illness some team members caught during winter break that took the wind from the Woodburn's sails.

Now healthy again, the team can focus on growing, metaphorically, as it prepares to face a slew of taller teams in the ever-competitive Oregon West Conference (OWC). That growth and improvement as players is something Sandoval takes from the team's setbacks.

"A loss is always a learning moment for us," Sandoval said. "We have Stayton, another team that was taller than us, so we just have to learn from that and keep plugging away."

Woodburn boys basketball coach Raul Veliz views losses with a similar mentality. The boys team played a strong game against Philomath but fell behind in the third quarter and was unable to make up enough ground to threaten for the lead by the end of the game.

"We talk about it every day," Veliz said. "We have to go out and compete in every game that we have. If we compete to our standard and what we believe we can do, it'll always put us in a position at the end of the game to be in a game. Obviously we want to try to win, but when we lose it's did we play our standard, did we play to our standard? Did we play the way we needed to play? If we did, we can move on easier from the loss."

It was a physical encounter between the two teams. At multiple points during the game players went crashing to the floor; a Philomath defender flew over Woodburn junior Spencer Karsseboom, and Woodburn senior Tomas Veliz collided heads with a Philomath player in a scramble for a loose ball that resulted in a gash on his forehead. It was gritty and physical.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Philomath players crash into Woodburn junior Spencer Karsseboom as he drives to the basket on Friday, Jan. 14.

The Bulldogs were led in scoring by junior Tony Carrasquillo with 16 points, followed by Karsseboom with 14 points, freshman Cruz Veliz with nine points and Tomas Veliz with eight.

While the team hit eight 3-pointers throughout the contest, coach Veliz believes that's a place his team can improve in the future.

"We definitely have to make some more 3-pointers," he said. "That's one way we're going to neutralize a little bit of (the height disadvantage) is shoot a few more threes and make a few more threes."

The third quarter was a crucial part of the outcome of the game. Woodburn put up just nine points during those eight minutes, while Philomath ran up 20 points in that same amount of time. According to coach Veliz, putting together a complete 32 minutes of play is going to be the difference against the better teams at 4A.

Both teams will have a chance to take the lessons learned against Philomath to heart when the take to the road next week against Cascade. The Woodburn girls (9-3, 2-1 in OWC) tip off against Cascade (9-2, 1-1 in OWC) at 5:30 p.m., while the Woodburn boys (11-3, 2-1 in OWC) face the Cougars (8-3, 1-1 in OWC) at 7 p.m.


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