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Wildcats reach championship game of POA Holiday Classic, defeat Corvallis and Liberty at home

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville junior Emilia Bishop scored 16 points Saturday night against Liberty.

Wilsonville did not look like a team playing its sixth game in nine days.

Especially in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats outscored Liberty 16-2 to run away with a 63-45 victory Saturday night.

"Not everything went our way, but we were able to keep our energy and keep it positive," said Wilsonville junior Emilia Bishop, who led the Wildcats with 16 points. "I think we were just having fun with it."

Liberty, a Class 6A program who entered the game with a 7-2 record after blowing out Milwaukie and Argyle Secondary (B.C.) on Thursday and Friday in Wilsonville's tournament, jumped out to a 12-6 lead against the Wildcats.

With the Falcons leading 23-17 early in the second quarter, Wilsonville senior Renee Lee got hot behind the 3-point arc, making three in a row to give the Wildcats a 29-23 lead as part of a 12-0 run.

Wilsonville held a 36-33 lead at halftime and were up just 47-43 after three quarters, before dominating the final eight minutes.

"They came out really hot and hit some 3s," Wilsonville coach Justin Duke said of Liberty. "We knew that with the third game in three days if we could keep the pace that at some point they couldn't continue to shoot as well as they did."

The Wildcats continued to shoot the ball well in the fourth as Lee, Keira McNamee and Kayla Hieb all knocked down 3-pointers in the period.

"We were waiting for that run to happen," Duke said. "It felt like it was going to happen at anytime, but they're a really good team. We knew they were going to hang in there as long as they could. It was a really good win for us."

Sydney Burns returned for Wilsonville after missing Thursday and Friday's games with the flu.

"Not 100 percent yet, but I'm feeling better everyday," said Burns, who finished with 10 points.

Without Burns, the Wildcats edged Corvallis (7-2) 47-44 Thursday to open the tournament.

"It's probably one of my favorite wins in a long time just because we found a way without Sydney and had some kids step up in a different role," Duke said. "To beat a team as good as Corvallis was really impressive."

Wilsonville then blew out Lynn Valley (B.C.) 66-40 on Friday.

"Not having Syd, obviously that leaves a huge gap because she's one of our main contributors on offense and defense," Bishop said. "She's one of our leaders, so not having her on the floor to help everybody settle down, I felt like I had to step up more. Not having one of our leaders on the floor left a huge gap. A lot of our younger girls were able to step up and get the feel of intense games with low pressure."

The Wildcats went 3-0 at their tournament after playing in the POA Holiday Classic on Dec. 27-29.

Playing in the diamond bracket, Wilsonville blew out previously undefeated Benson 72-48 in the first round.

Tied 22-22 at halftime, the Wildcats put up 50 points in the second half.

Burns had 19 points, six assists and eight steals. Bishop added 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"We are good about not letting the bad things get to us," Bishop said. "If we have a turnover, our response time is very quick and we think about it, we get over it and we move on."

Wilsonville then defeated University (Wash.) 69-61 in the second round of the POA Holiday Classic.

Burns had 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Bishop finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

"Every game that we play from here on out is preparation for getting to the (state) tournament and the better we play the better we are going to play later," Bishop said. "It's just keeping that mindset."

The Wildcats lost to South Medford, the No. 1 ranked team in 6A, 59-50 in the diamond bracket championship game.

Bishop led Wilsonville with 15 points. Burns added 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

"We were fortunate to only lose by nine but it also shows some toughness out of our kids to hang in there when things aren't going well," Duke said. "We've really challenged ourselves with our non-league schedule. I think we're really fortunate to have the record that we do. There's a lot of room for growth and a lot of excitement."

Derek Wiley
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