Against the number one team in the league, the Wildcats strengths will be tested

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Wilsonville rematches the only team to defeat them in league when they face off against La Salle on Friday, Feb. 16. For the Wildcats, this upcoming Friday will determine a lot about their standings in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Wilsonville has looked super impressive this season, both in regular season play and in the preseason as well, going a remarkable 17-3 since November of last year. The Wildcats are currently ranked number eight in the state by OSAA, and have a firm handle on the number two spot in the NWOC.

The only team to beat the Wildcats in league were the La Salle Falcons (10-0 in league, 16-4 overall). The two will meet up on for the second time on Friday, Feb. 16 to determine who will have the number one spot in league heading into the final stages of regular season play.

For Wilsonville head coach Justin Duke, he realizes that no time can be taken off against the fearsome Falcons.

"To beat a team like LaSalle you have to play well for 32 minutes and we had a stretch in the second half in our last game where we didn't score for a while and settled for a lot of outside shots," Duke said. "We knew we needed to add some things to our offense to take a step forward and they were able to expose that in the second half."

Heading into the second game against La Salle, Duke believes that his team is capable of getting the W. It is less about adding knew things, and honing what is already there, according to Duke.

"I think we're always trying to find ways to get better but at this point in the season it's a lot about refining some things to give opponents a different look, keeping the kids conditioned and getting up a lot of shots," Duke said. "It's also a lot of maintenance of the good habits that we've already put in place."

Defensively, Wilsonville has been the best in the league, allowing only 754 points against them, 24 points less than number one La Salle. Offensively, the Wildcats have actually outscored the Falcons in total points this season with an astounding 1,195 points tallied. Part of that is due to the teams diverse scorers.

"There doesn't appear to be much ego on this team and we're able to beat teams in a lot of different ways," Duke said. "We've had seven different girls lead the team in scoring this season which makes it hard to stop us offensively. Our defense has been very consistent and will be what carries us in the playoffs."

Duke highlighted scorers Emily Scanlan, Reese Timm, and players who have stepped into major supporting roles such as Teagan McNamee and Cydney Gutridge.

When the dust settles at the end of this week, one where Wilsonville squares off with first Putnam, and then La Salle, Duke is happy with the direction his team is headed.

"We just love the trajectory of the season and that we are sitting at 17-3 but know we haven't played up to our full potential yet," Duke said. "The kids have really respected the process and stayed focused on the present and haven't gotten caught up in looking too far ahead toward the playoffs or the tougher match-ups on our schedule. It will be an exciting last few weeks to close out the season."

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