Wilsonville's unbeaten streak came to an end, but it was against one of the top teams in the country. In the finals of the Capitol City Classic, Wilsonville fell 77-62 against No. 14 in the nation Corona Centennial Saturday, Dec. 22.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Wildcats who up until that point had torn through the competition. Centennial got the job done with big contributions from wing Paris Dawson, who contributed 28 points to the game, and DJ Davis with 18. The duo was one of six reportedly offered Division I scholarships.
Despite the daunting opponent in front of it, Wilsonville actually led at the half. In the first quarter Wilsonville led 22-17, and added to that lead with 13 points in the second to lead 35-33 heading into the locker rooms.
Coming into the second half Centennial found its stride, outscoring Wilsonville 17-10 in the third quarter. That gave the Corona, California based team a 49-45 lead heading into the fourth and final stanza. At that point, Centennial finished the game, outscoring Wilsonville 28-17 over the last eight minutes. Wilsonville lost in the finals 77-62.
"We competed," said Wilsonville coach Chris Roche. "I thought we gave a good effort. Fatigue was definitely a factor. We have had a number of guys sick and maybe playing four games in five days coming off sickness and injuries got the better of us down the stretch of that game. But, at the same time, you have to give Centennial credit, because they, too, were playing their fourth game in a short period of time, and they definitely handled that better than us."
Senior Jack Roche led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points and 8 assists, followed by juniors Keegan Shivers and Dakota Reber with 12 points a piece.
"Against elite-level competition, we held our own," said Roche. "We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but I was proud of our effort. I think they exposed some things for us to work on, too, if we want to be as good as we can be down the line."
The lead up to the finals had Wilsonville pick up convincing victories over local and interstate competition.
In the opening round, Wilsonville squared up against the Intermountatin Conference's Crook County (7-5) Tuesday, Dec. 18. It was a one sided affair as the Wildcats dominated the Cowboys 81-45 after four quarters of play. One of the big differences in the game was steals. Wilsonville managed to get 11 turnovers, 3 apiece for Roche and junior Gabe Reichle. That duo also led the Wildcats in scoring with 22 and 20 points, respectively.
Wilsonville also outrebounded Crook County 22-18. The 36-point victory ran the team's record to 5-0 on the season.
In the quarterfinals of the tournament, Wilsonville met up with Dutchtown High School, hailing from Hampton Georgia on Thursday, Dec. 20. The ensuing contest was closer as the Wildcats only picked up a 10-point victory 62-52.
Wilsonville and the Georgians were tied 25-25 heading into the half, and that was thanks to a style of play Wilsonville had yet to encounter yet.
"They were a good, physical, athletic team," said coach Chris Roche. "They play a different style than we see typically: pressing, playing zone and looking to push the tempo, too. So the challenges were a little bit different than usual. I thought once we settled in and sort of figured them out, we played pretty well."
Jack Roche led the scoring with 23 points and 7 assists. Senior Zach Rivers had 12 points, and Shivers chipped in 11 points. The team also rebounded well, recording 21 total rebounds with Shivers and Reichle each getting 5 apiece.
In the semifinals Wilsonville rematched 6A Mountain View Friday, Dec. 21. The two teams previously met in the finals of the Holiday Inn WIT in the first weekend of play. The results were similar the second time around, with the Wildcats winning this time 61-46.
Shivers led the team in scoring this time around, notching 18 points. The rematch was not something that Wilsonville was unprepared for.
"You play teams in your league two times a year all the time," said Roche, "so it is no big deal. Our job was to be ready to play and match their hustle and enthusiasm. I thought we did that pretty well."
Wilsonville travelled to Hawaii to compete against more interstate competition. On Saturday, Dec. 29 the Wildcats were downed by Mission Viejo (CA) 63-53. They righted ship against Hawaiian teams Baldwin and Seabury Hall on New Year's Eve and Jan. 2 respectively. Against Baldwin, they won 76-30, and against Seabury Hall they won 69-44.
Wilsonville (9-2) kicked off its league run against St. Helens Tuesday, Jan. 8 after the Spokesman went to press.