Boys basketball: Wilsonville advances to state tournament for 12th straight year
Dakota Reber was not happy with how he played in the first half Saturday night against Corvallis.
And the Wilsonville senior took out his frustration in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points on two 3-pointers and three dunks, each more thunderous than the last, as the Wildcats rolled to a 66-38 victory in the first round of the Class 5A boys basketball playoffs.
"I was just frustrated," said Reber. "I played bad in the first half. I can't let that happen. I just wanted to make something good happen in the game."
Playing for a spot in the state tournament at Oregon State, the No. 13 Spartans came ready to play against No. 4 Wilsonvlle, racing out to an 8-3 lead.
The Wildcats did not take their first lead, 13-12, until 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter on two free throws by senior Gabe Reichle.
"These aren't easy games," Wilsonville coach Chris Roche said. "Everyone knows they are 32 minutes from Corvallis, and they can see the finish line and everybody wants to get there, so you almost always get the teams very best effort, and I thought Corvallis was ready to go."
After four lead changes, Wilsonville went ahead for good, 22-21, on a Keegan Shivers 3-pointer late in the second quarter.
The Wildcats closed the first half on a 9-2 run to take a 31-23 lead into intermission.
Wilsonville senior Andrew Classen had 11 points at halftime, and finished with a team-high 20.
"My teammates really moved the ball and they set really good screens," Classen said. "It's really up to them. They passed the ball well and pushed it in transition."
After extending their lead to 12 points, 44-32, at the end of the third quarter, the Wildcats outscored Corvallis 22-6 in the final period.
"We just had to pick it up on defense," Reber said. "Really, that's where it all starts. Once we do that, the offense takes over."
Reber finished with 19 points, 17 coming in the second half. Shivers and Reichle added 12 and eight points, respectively.
"Once we settled in, I thought we were very good down the stretch," Roche said. "I give our kids a lot of credit for how we hung in there. There are going to be close games. You have to embrace those, embrace the moment, and I thought we responded very well to a tough challenge."
Wilsonville advances to the 5A state tournament for the 12th straight season. The Wildcats have played for the state title five years in a row, winning three championships, including last season.
"I'm happy for these guys," Roche said. "It's nice that we've gone multiple years, but what matters right now is this group and what they achieved. We're going to try to enjoy the moment. The problem is if you worry about all the streaks and history is that it can take away from enjoying the moment and what these kids have achieved, going undefeated in league and winning this game the way they won it, and going to state, I want them to enjoy that and not skip any of those fun steps. For me, that's really important."
Wilsonville will open the 2020 state tournament Wednesday against No. 5 West Albany at Gill Coliseum.
"All the past stuff doesn't guarantee us anything," Roche said. "All it does is put a bullseye on our back. Paint it as bright as you want. We're coming."
If the Wildcats can get past West Albany, they would most likely play No. 1 Churchill Thursday in the semifinals.
The championship game is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 p.m.
"I'm excited to see what we can do now," Roche said. "We're going to show up and give it our very best.
This year is tougher. This season has some heavyweights. It's going to be a tough tournament. We don't care. Churchill is the heavy favorite. We'll see if anybody can play with them."
More photos at derekwiley.smugmug.com.
Follow us on Twitter
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.