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Senior Dakota Reber scored a game-high 27 points Friday night in Wildcats season opener

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville senior Gabe Reichle scored 16 points Friday night at West Linn.

WEST LINN — Opening the season against Class 6A West Linn on the road, Wilsonville got to the fourth quarter with the lead.

But the Lions answered with a 13-0 run to grab the momentum and never let it go to defeat the Wildcats 71-58 Friday night.

"It just came down to getting boards and defensive stops," said Wilsonville senior Dakota Reber, who had a game-high 27 points on six 3-pointers, including three in the final two minutes of the third period, but was held scoreless in the fourth. "Overall, our defense has to be tougher. We just have to be tougher all around."

West Linn just executed better than the Wildcats in the fourth quarter.

"They've got a good team and they were able to impose their will and we were not," Wilsonville coach Chris Roche said. "They took the ball to the rim better than we did. We settled for a lot of perimeter shots and when they went to the bucket they went strong, and we didn't go as strong as they did. They just made more plays, so they deserved it tonight."

West Linn senior Parker Durbin gave the Lions the lead for good, 50-49, on a 3-point play to start the fourth quarter.

"We just knew that it was going to be a long game and every possession mattered," Durbin said. "We just played defense. We talked a lot. It was just us staying together as a team. It started in the huddle with everyone talking to each other and really believing. We knew we had to start out that fourth quarter making a statement."

Wilsonville did not score in the fourth quarter until a Gabe Reichle basket with 3:15 remaining got the Wildcats within 62-51.

"We didn't move the ball well," said Reichle, who finished with 16 points. "We didn't play defense. We just went away from playing our game."

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville senior Dakota Reber scored a game-high 27 points Friday night at West Linn.

West Linn senior Micah Garrett scored 22 points to lead the Lions.

"We knew that they were going to come out and play their hardest in the fourth quarter," Garrett said. "We just had to come out and play our hardest defense and try to keep Dakota and Gabe off the boards. We tried to get them to shoot outside and we did."

West Linn freshman Jackson Shelstad had 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

"I can't imagine how good he's going to be when he's a senior," Garrett said of Shelstad. "He's really helping us out right now. We knew he was going to do this. We know Jackson is good. And he's going to keep on doing it and keep on getting better."

The win was even more rewarding after the Lions lost at Wilsonville last season.

"We had a bitter taste in our month," Durbin said. "We went there last year and we got it handed to us, so we knew that this game means a lot. This is a pride game. This game is all pride. It makes us feel like our work is paying off. You've got a chip on your shoulder to beat them, so they're not talking after the game."

But West Linn, which was coming off a 75-73 loss at Roosevelt Tuesday, will not celebrate the win for long.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Durbin said. "This is not where we want to be. It's a start. We can build off this, but we've got a long journey ahead of us. We're proud. We're going to celebrate tonight, but Sunday we're back at it."

Wilsonville, which finished 27-2 last season with its only setbacks coming to California teams, had not lost to an Oregon team since falling to Thurston in the 2018 state championship game.

"We knew that with the schedule that we set up this was going to be a challenging preseason," Roche said. "We can pout or we can get better, and for us we don't have time to pout. We have to focus on the areas that have to improve and start to work on them. A lot of times teams improve a bunch from the first to the second game. This is a tough team on the road to start the season with. They're good and they've played a couple of games. We just didn't handle it very well tonight."

Derek Wiley
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