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Led by Emilia Bishop's 17 points, four Wildcats scored in double digits Tuesday at home

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville senior Renee Lee scored 15 points Tuesday against St. Helens.

Wilsonville head coach Justin Duke expects the Northwest Oregon Conference to be tougher this season.

But on opening night, at least, it was business as usual for the Wildcats, who cruised past St. Helens 76-41 Tuesday. 

The Lions entered the game 8-1 with their only loss coming to Pendleton, in which St. Helens was missing its leading scorer -- senior guard Madison Holm.

"We probably came out with more energy knowing that they had a better record," said Wilsonville junior Keira McNamee, who scored 13 points in the rout. "Another thing that we are working on his no matter what someone's record is or what we've seen of them, that we come out and play our game no matter what happens."

The Wildcats were also excited to begin league play at home after starting the season 9-2. 

"We came in with the right mindset," McNamee said. "Coming into our first league game, we were all excited and I think that kind of transferred out onto the court tonight."

Wilsonville jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead, which it extended to 24-9 by the end of the first quarter. 

With Wilsonville juniors Emilia Bishop and Sydney Burns resting on the bench to start the second quarter, the Lions were able to get within 27-14. 

But back on the floor, Bishop scored five quick points and Burns knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats up 35-14. 

Even in limited action, Bishop finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Burns added 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. 

Senior Renee Lee scored 15 points as Wilsonville extended its lead to 42-19 at halftime.

"The kids just played really, really well," Duke said. "They've been playing well for a while and it just continued tonight. We were doing so many good things. Even when we went up pretty big, I thought the kids stayed within themselves and we weren't taking bad shots or building bad habits."

Duke played all 12 girls, and 10 scored, as the Wildcats continued to build on their lead in the second half. 

"Most of those kids would be starting anywhere else," Duke said. "It's nice to see them have success, too, because they're really good. The kids are just practicing really well and there's not a lot of drop off from a lot of our kids anymore. We have some kids that are catching up to other ones and we want to get them some time, so that we can really develop them and get them some experience that will pay off this year, but next year, too."

One player that has earned more minutes is junior forward Maura Schramm, who had six points and four rebounds against St. Helens. 

"We're trying to establish Maura Schramm inside a little bit with Emilia to kind of give us a different look," Duke said. "We've always ran a one post offense, but she's playing so well that we can't limit her minutes by only subbing her and Emi. It's exciting to play a little different, too."

Senior Ally Finkbeiner did not play after spraining her wrist in Wilsonville's previous game at Skyview. But Duke does not expect Finkbeiner to miss more than a week, and sophomore Grace Gatto returned after rolling her ankle early in the season. 

"It was great to get her (Gatto) back tonight," Duke said. "She'll make a big difference."

Holm scored 14 points to lead the Lions. But the St. Helens senior had to work for every basket. 

"We wanted to take away Maddie," Duke said. "We doubled her early every time she touched it and the kids rotated well. That really caused them problems and got them off their game."

St. Helens junior Maria Reardon added 10 points. 

"Wilsonville is a really good team," St. Helens coach Michael Fendall said. "We struggled obviously, but that's what good teams do to teams that are developing. We turned the ball over a ton and gave up a ton of offensive rebounds, so when you give a really good team second chances and third chances, they're going to score." 

Derek Wiley
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