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Girls basketball should compete for league title, will have to overcome La Salle Prep

ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Cydney Gutridge will be one of the leaders on the squad. Gutridge was a first team all-league player last year.Coach: Justin Duke

2017-18: 20-5

Key returners: Cydney Gutridge (first team all-league), Reese Timm (second team all-league), Teagan McNamee (second team all-league), Emily Scanlan (third team all-league)

Outlook: Right from the outset, it's hard to imagine how the Wilsonville girls basketball team does not head to the top of the Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC).

The 2017-18 season saw a 12-2 run in league with defeats coming solely against league champion La Salle Prep, and blowout wins of every other team in the league. Wilsonville again is confident that it has what it takes to be the NWOC bosses.

Many of last year's players return. After only graduating senior Jessica Classen, the Wildcats see four all-league players return alongside a handful of players who made names for themselves last year.

First team all-leaguer Cydney Gutridge returns alongside second team all-leaguers Reese Timm and Teagan McNamee, and third team all-leaguer Emily Scanlan. Though those players got the accolades, head coach Justin Duke highlighted several of their teammates

"(Junior) Renee Lee is a transfer from Newberg who averaged double figures in scoring and will be a part of our rotation as well," Duke said. "(Sophomore) Sydney Burns is one of the best young players in the state and took major steps forward this summer. We have a very deep roster this year but expect her to be one of our best players and leaders.

"(Sophomore) Emilia Bishop is a 6-2 post who looks a lot more comfortable this season and also took major strides this summer," Duke continued. "Combining her and (senior) Hannah McKinney together on the floor will give us a size advantage over nearly every team in the state. (Junior) Kayla Hieb is a returning starter who does a little bit of everything for us. She is as unselfish a player as I've ever coached but will fill up a stat sheet."ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Teagan McNamee was a workhorse on the court last year, and will be one of the captains to lead the team this year.

With such a strong returning cast, and the fact that La Salle graduated three all-league players including last year's Player of the Year Taycee Wedin, it only makes sense that Wilsonville will be on the short list for the title.

Still, La Salle is going to be the team to beat. The Falcons have brought in a pair of transfers they hope will replace the strong players they graduated, including a USC commit.

"They should certainly be the favorites for league and state championships until someone is able to step up and beat them," Duke said. "They've had a strong program for a lot of years now with a core group of kids that are really committed to basketball, so it's nice to have them in our league and measure our progress against the best."

Other teams to watch out for this season will be Hillsboro and Milwaukie, who each finished the league season with a 9-5 NWOC record.

The outpouring of talent into the program this year is another thing that gives Duke hope for the season. With 11 of 12 varsity members returning, and a plethora of junior varsity players coming out, Duke has a lot of talent to draw from.

"We have 37 players in the program, most we've had since I've been here," Duke said. "We are one of the largest programs in the state regardless of classification so we have a lot of pride in the total program, and believe we're set up for sustained success into the future."ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Senior Reese Timm was a second team all-leaguer last year as she helped lead Wilsonville to a 12-2 NWOC finish, and figures to be a pivotal player going forward.

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