The Wildcats defeat game Mustangs 60-51 in league rematch on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Junior Jack Roche drives past a Milwaukie defender towards the basket. Wilsonville—It was not pretty, but in the end the Wilsonville Wildcats got the job done. The number one team in the Northwest Oregon Conference defeated the Milwaukie Mustangs 60-51 on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The two teams met before on Jan. 5 in the league opener, where Wilsonville cruised to a dominant 78-36 victory.

Despite the loss, Milwaukie head coach Don Law saw a silver lining in his teams performance.

"We were doing a good job of sharing the ball, for the most part getting into their offense, keeping the score down," Law said. "They got 60 but it's a lot better defensive game by us except for the fact that we couldn't stop them around the glass."

On the flip side, Wilsonville head coach Chris Roche was happy to get the win, but realizes that his team needs to keep improving.

"We need to be way more ready to play, more enthused, zeroed in our game keys, and come out from the beginning of the game understanding how important rebounding and defending are, and move the ball on offense," Roche said. "Tonight we struggled in just about every area. Some of that was because Milwaukie did some good things, and some of it was we just weren't quite there tonight."

The first quarter opened up with Wilsonville missing several easy layups in the Milwaukie paint, and passing was a struggle as well inside the first eight minutes. Still, various players had success for the Wildcats. Sophomore Dakota Reber put up Wilsonville's first basket, and senior big man Draco Bynum put points on the board as well after subbing in for Reber shortly after the start of the game. SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Zac Rossetti takes a shot from the free throw line against Milwaukie. Senior Zac Rossetti found his first basket of the game, and junior Jack Roche and sophomore Gabe Reichle also had baskets as well.

Milwaukie, to their credit, matched the league leaders point for point in the first eight minutes. Seniors Aaron Talley and Kaid Vickers got a basket each, and Talley hit senior Marcel Nemarundwe with a no-look assist en route to an easy shot inside Wilsonville's paint. Senior Dylan Stradley had five points in the first quarter. By the sound of the buzzer, it was 11 all, Milwaukie hanging tough.

In the second quarter, Wilsonville hit its stride early. Roche connected on a three-point basket courtesy of a senior Caleb Larsen assist. Rossetti had four baskets in the second quarter, and nine points in the half.

In the latter stages of the quarter though, Milwaukie came fighting back, cutting into a six point deficit with baskets from senior Stradley, junior Dustin Stradley, and Vickers. Dylan Stradley in particular hit three consecutive baskets towards the end of the quarter to bring the Mustangs within two points.

"I thought we were playing really well," Dustin Stradley said. "All around our team was playing really well, but we came up short."

At the end of the half, Wilsonville walked to the locker room with a tenuous 26-24 lead.

In the third quarter, Wilsonville came out displaying more energy on the offensive side of things. Of particular note were Zac Rossetti and Dakota Reber who asserted themselves against the smaller Milwaukie defense. Rossetti scored 12 points in the third quarter, and Reber followed closely behind with eight points. By the end of 24 minutes of play, it was 48-34 in favor the home team.

"I think we weren't finishing that well in the first half, so I just had to focus better on finishing and being more aggressive and getting it to the hoop," Rossetti said. "That was my main focus going into the second half because we didn't finish well in the first."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Sophomore Keegan Shivers looks to dish the ball off to one of his teammates. "Rebounding is one of our main focuses as a team," Wilsonville sophomore Keegan Shivers said. "That first half we didn't do what we wanted to on the boards, and the second half that was the main focus. I think 'Big Z' and Dakota did really good on the boards, getting us back into it at the start of third quarter."

In the final quarter of play, Milwaukie came out strong, scoring eight straight points thanks to junior James Lumanglas and Dustin Stradley. The younger Stradley scored 11 points in the game. The Mustangs put up 17 points in the final quarter but it simply was not enough.

Wilsonville sophomore Keegan Shivers played a solid fourth quarter, sinking five baskets for eight points in the final eight minutes.

At the end of play, it was Wilsonville 60, Milwaukie 51. Despite getting the win, it was not the type of game the Wildcats had wanted to play.

Wilsonville moves to 8-0 in league play, 12-6 overall. Milwaukie falls to 0-8 in the NWOC, 5-14 overall.

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