Wilsonville's run ends as state basketball tournament canceled
Wilsonville's girls and boys basketball seasons ended with wins at the Class 5A state tournament, just not the victories the Wildcats were hoping for.
With both teams scheduled to play in the semifinals Thursday at Oregon State's Gill Coliseum, the OSAA canceled all remaining winter state championships over coronavirus concerns.
Wilsonville girls coach Justin Duke said "there were a lot of tears" in the Wildcats' locker room when the news broke Thursday morning.
Junior point guard Sydney Burns Tweeted "Saddest way I've ever had to end a season."
Duke said he focused on the "journey" when trying to explain to his team of 15-18 year olds why their state tournament and state championship dreams were abruptly ending.
"This is such an incredible group of young women that are stronger than anyone could imagine," Duke Tweeted. "Reminded now more than ever that the joy has been in our journey together."
Wilsonville's journey included a 24-3 overall record and a share of the NW Oregon Conference championship.
The Wildcats were scheduled to face NWOC rival La Salle Prep in the semifinals. The two teams split during the regular season, and the Falcons defeated Wilsonville in the semifinals last season on their way to winning the state title.
While Wilsonville's girls were one win away from advancing to the state championship game for the first time since 2010, the boys were trying to make their sixth straight state championship appearance and defend their state title.
"We just tried to help the kids process it, especially the seniors," Wilsonville coach Chris Roche said. "It's such a final abrupt ending to things. Most seasons end abruptly. You lose in the playoffs or you don't make the playoffs, whatever it might be, but you know that's a possibility. None of them anticipated this."
The Wildcats were scheduled to have a walk through at Crescent Valley High School, but instead played one final scrimmage between the seniors and underclassmen, followed by eating pizza.
"Our kids were very excited about what they have achieved and very excited about what was ahead," Roche said. "We've got a bunch of guys who are great competitors and they were ready to go. That was tough, so we're just trying to help them understand that they had a great season. There was a lot of love in the room for each other. There was a lot of good stuff. Our team became very close this year and that was fun to see that they could express that. It was really there when we were down."
Wilsonville, which finished the regular season 22-5 and 14-0 in the NWOC, were scheduled to face No. 1 Churchill Thursday night in the semifinals.
"They were ranked No. 1 all year and we were excited to see how it would go," Roche said. "That was a mega semifinals on the boys side. You've got four powerhouse teams (Wilsonville, Churchill, Silverton, Crater) this year.
It would have been fun for everybody."
Despite the disappointment, Roche understood the OSAA's decision.
"I think the OSAA did everything they could to try to get the games in," Roche said. "They do a great job of providing all of these opportunities for kids. There's no animosity towards anybody. It's just too bad. We're grateful for all they do. Those tournaments make lifetime memories for kids, so we're grateful for that."
Both Wilsonville teams were coming off strong performances in the quarterfinals.
The girls defeated Lebanon 49-29 Tuesday, holding a strong 3-point shooting team to 12.5 percent from behind the arc (3-for-24), and 18 percent from the field (9-for-50).
Burns had 11 points and seven rebounds. Junior Emilia Bishop added seven points and nine rebounds.
The boys handled West Albany 61-42 on Wednesday.
Dakota Reber led the Wildcats with 20 points, three rebounds and three assists. Andrew Classen had 16 points, three rebounds and four assists. Gabe Reichle added 15 points and four assists.
"That's kind of the silver lining in all of this," Roche said. "In those seniors' last game they went out the right way. We played very hard and we were very prepared to play. We beat a very, very good team. I think they were definitely the fifth best team, like they were ranked, and we handled them pretty easily. That was fun for our seniors to play a team that was that good and play that well. They played great defense and they executed very well and they played with great spirit. If you had to have a truncated season abruptly end on you. That was a good one to end on. It reflected how good they were. It sure felt like we were ready to give it our very best anyway. We were coming off a great game and usually that means more good is coming for us."
OSAA canceled the Class 6A, 5A and 4A state championship after first announcing Wednesday night that the games would continue without spectators.
"This difficult decision has not been made lightly," said Peter Weber, OSAA Executive Director. "Going into this week we knew the situation was rapidly evolving and as the circumstances and guidance have changed throughout today, our focus is on trying to honor the commitment students have made throughout the season by continuing the contests, albeit without spectators."
But by the end of Thursday, nearly every sporting event in the country, including the NBA season and NCAA Men's and Women's Tournaments, had been canceled.
"It's like dominoes, once the bigger ones started to fall," Roche said.
According to OSAAtoday's Jerry Ulmer, Oregon State University officials notified the OSAA Thursday morning that it no longer could use Gill Coliseum after the Pac-12 Conference decided to suspend spring sports indefinitely.
The OSAA, after consulting with schools and venue partners, opted to cancel all three tournaments.
"Everybody we're talking to medical-wise says this is going to get worse before it gets better," Weber said. "We're as heartbroken and disheartened as everybody else. But ultimately we felt like the responsibility lies with us and the people we're working with to keep people safe and make those decisions."
Weber said the OSAA considered other options, such as moving 5A games to Corvallis High School or suspending play indefinitely. But in the end, cancelling was "the most prudent thing to do."
For the first time since the OSAA began sanctioning boys state tournaments in 1919 and girls tournaments in 1976, no champions will be crowned in some divisions. Weber said the OSAA has yet to discuss awarding trophies in 6A, 5A and 4A.
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