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Wildcats used suffocating defense to erase 13-point fourth quarter deficit

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville senior Kayla Hieb helps Sydney Burns up off the floor after Bruns scored and drew a foul in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game against La Salle Prep.

On youth night, Wilsonville's girls basketball team gave a gym full of future Wildcats a game they will not forget.

Down 13 points in the fourth quarter, Wilsonville, using a suffocating defense, stormed back with a 19-0 run to stun reigning 5A champion La Salle Prep 52-47 Tuesday.

"At that moment in the game we really had nothing to lose," said Wilsonville junior Sydney Burns, after signing at least a dozen autographs from the young girls in attendance. "I wasn't really aware of the score the whole game. I just knew it was time for things to click and for us to play our own game."

La Salle junior Addison Wedin, who missed the entire second quarter in foul trouble, gave the Falcons their biggest lead of the game, 40-31, on a deep 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.

Senior Emily Niebergall then scored two quick buckets to increase La Salle's lead to 44-31 with 6:25 remaining.

Not wanting the Falcons to hold the ball and shorten the game, Wilsonville used a press to trap La Salle and create turnover after turnover.

"We've been working on that (press) for probably the last week and just waiting for that moment," Wilsonville coach Justin Duke said. "We practiced how we wanted to rotate off the trap and who we were going to send at that moment and we didn't miss a rotation. The kids sold out and they weren't worried about giving up a lay-in on the back."

Burns scored 12 straight points in the run, including back-to-back three-point plays to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game, 45-44, with 1:52 remaining.

"I certainly didn't think it was going to work that well, but I'm proud of the kids for buying in and making it happen," Duke said.

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Wilsonville junior Keira McNamee drives hard to the basket in the first half against La Salle Prep.

After Renee Lee buried a 3-pointer in front of Wilsonville's bench, Grace Gatto took a charge on the other end, fouling Wedin out of the game.

"I saw her coming at me and I've always loved taking charges," Gatto said. "That's probably my favorite thing. I knew she was a good ball handler and would take it all the way, so I just waited for her to come to me."

Gatto, a sophomore, had barely played this season after injuring her left ankle.

"I just tried to look at it as a normal game," Gatto said. "I tried not to stress too much about it because when I get nervous, I get more hectic. When I went in, I just played as hard as I could to help our team."

Karina Borgen and Kayla Hieb, each went 1-for-2 from the free throw line to extend the Wildcats lead to 50-44.

After Niebergall knocked down a 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to get the Falcons within one possession, Burns, who finished with 20 points, made two free throws to ice the game.

Niebergall led La Salle with 18 points.

Lee and Emilia Bishop scored 15 and 14 for Wilsonville, whose late run had come after La Salle had controlled the tempo for three quarters as well as in previous matchups with the Wildcats.

"They're a really patient team and can run a good offense," Burns said. "That's not the way we play the best and they really forced us to slow it down and play in a different way than we're used to."

Wilsonville will see the Falcons again at La Salle Prep on Feb. 14.

"Our goal is to be state champs this year, so we're going to have to beat really good teams like La Salle and just move on from that," Burns said. "It was an amazing game tonight, but tomorrow we just have to keep getting better. They'll be getting better and they'll be more motivated."

Derek Wiley
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