Wilsonville boys basketball places second at Capitol City Classic
SALEM — Rancho Christian got senior Evan Mobley back for the Capitol City Classic championship game.
The Eagles, from Temecula, Calif., needed every bit of the 7-footer and No. 1 prospect in the nation to fend off Wilsonville Monday night at Willamette University.
The Wildcats, in their second consecutive trip to the Classic finals, trailed by one point at halftime and were within five with 1:40 remaining in the game, before falling 70-63.
"We think we can play with anyone if we play the correct way," said Wilsonville senior Dakota Reber, who finished with 38 points to lead all scorers. "We didn't back down. I don't like to lose. Every loss hurts."
Mobley, a University of Southern California signee who missed the first three games of the CCC with an ankle injury, had 12 points.
"I'm glad he played," Reber said. "We want them at full strength. We don't want any team missing players when we play them."
Wilsonville lost to another California team, Corona Centennial, in last year's finals.
"This team is better," Wilsonville coach Chris Roche said of Rancho Christian. "The other team was very good, too. But with Mobley it's a different dimension. There were times when you just can't go in the paint because he stops everything in there, and offensively when he gets the ball it's really tough to do much with him. He's incredible. But I thought we scrapped and clawed and hung in there pretty good."
Junior Jaden Byers led the Eagles with 17 points. Senior Dominick Harris, another ESPN top 100 recruit who has signed with Gonzaga, had 15 points.
"They have talent, but they're also well-coached," Roche said. "For us to be going toe-to-toe with them is a good thing. Now if we can improve and be hungry and want to get better, maybe at the end of the year we can be OK."
Wilsonville senior Gabe Reichle had 11 points. Senior Keegan Shivers added eight points.
"When you play a team like that, it's just harder to get a shot for a lot of guys, and what happens is guys that can still get a shot end up getting a lot more," Roche said. "Dakota shared the ball great. He's been very unselfish. We want to give him and Gabe and Keegan, we want to give all three of them a lot of leeway to play."
After a back-and-forth first half, Rancho Christian took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 27-16 in the period.
"We made a few too many mistakes, kind of rushed in transition, and then they (Rancho Christian) got out," Roche said. "When they get in the open court you can't do much. They really controlled the tempo, but I thought we competed and were close. We wanted to win the game, but I'm proud of how hard we played."
Wilsonville played Rancho Christian closer than anyone at the Capitol City Classic.
Playing without Mobley, the Eagles defeated Sherwood 101-68 in the quarterfinals and South Salem 75-50 in the semifinals.
"They're a good team, well coached, and we knew it would be that way," Rancho Christian coach Ray Barefield said. "Coach Chris does a really good job with them, and they executed, and we didn't do some things that we stand for and some things kind of slipped up. Credit to them. We've just got to keep getting better. It was a great experience. The people of Oregon have been great and the competition has been great. It allowed us to get better. We appreciate it."
After losing 71-58 at West Linn to open the season, Wilsonville defeated Central 62-35, Sprague 68-47 and then Lanier, from Buford, Ga., 75-62 Saturday night in the semifinals of the CCC.
"That was a great win for us," Roche said of beating Lanier. "We were down one at the half and they were athletic and pressured us. That was a big gut check and I thought our toughness showed there."
Reber again led the Wildcats with 20 points. Reichle had 18 points and Shivers added 13 in the semifinal victory. Junior Riley Scanlan, 11 points, was also in double figures.
"We improved a ton from our first couple of games to our last few," Roche said. "And if we can appreciate what was different and continue to work on things that are a little weak for us... I think what I learned is our guys are responding pretty well and starting to grow into their roles this year."
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