Wilsonville boys basketball beats Central 47-34 to earn Class 5A tournament berth
The Wilsonville boys basketball team was not where it wanted to be at the start of its Friday, March 4, playoff game against Central.
The Wildcats started slowly on offense, missing their first six shots from the field and failing to score for the game's first 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
But from those humble beginnings came great results. Wilsonville took over late in the first quarter and left the Panthers behind to win 47-34 at Wilsonville High School. In the process, the Wildcats ended up right where they wanted to be — back in the Class 5A state tournament.
"It feels great," said Wilsonville senior guard/wing Enzo Chimienti, who finished with seven points (on 3 of 8 shooting from the field, including one 3-pointer), along with three rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. "There's no other team I'd rather come battle with, and we just want to close out the season well."
"I feel like we got by. We could have done a lot of stuff better," said junior guard Kallen Gutridge, who led all scorers with 15 points (on 5 of 16 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers and a 3 of 4 day at the free throw line), along with four blocks, three rebounds and one assist. "There's a lot of stuff to work on before we head down (to state), but overall, I'm just excited and blessed for the opportunity with my guys."
"Now we just have to do the same thing down at state," added senior post Logan Thebiay, who added nine points (on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and a 1 of 3 day at the foul line), along with seven rebounds and four blocks. "We just need to play good basketball every game."
Next up, Wilsonville will face sixth-ranked Crater — 72-38 winner over Corvallis on Friday — in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state tournament at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at Gill Coliseum on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis.
"I think we just need to play together and stay together and stay positive and just give it our best effort, especially for the seniors who we won't have next year," Gutridge said.
"(The key) is just competing and playing our game," Chimienti added. "Defend, rebound, get great shots and play the Wildcat way."
With the win — Northwest Oregon Conference champion Wilsonville's 13th straight — the third-ranked Wildcats improved to 24-2 overall. No. 14 Central, meanwhile, saw its two-game winning streak snapped and ended its season at 10-12 after finishing fourth in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
For Central, the Panthers were led by senior guard Adrien Barba's 11 points (on 3 of 8 shooting from the field, including one 3-pointer and a 4 of 6 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds and one steal. Junior post Chase Nelson added 10 points (on 3 of 8 shooting from the field and a 4 of 6 day at the foul line), along with five rebounds and one steal, while sophomore wing Matt Quinn finished with two points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and one assist.
While the Wildcats started slowly on offense — they didn't score until Gutridge took a Chimienti pass and scored in the key with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter — Central only led by three points before that shot and Wilsonville took over quickly.
The Wildcats closed the first quarter on a 13-2 run to lead 13-5, with Gutridge scoring his team's first nine points (including a 3-pointer), while junior Maxim Wu added a "three" and senior Kellen Hartford scored inside off a Gutridge pass.
Wilsonville pushed its lead to 22-9 midway through the second quarter when Chimienti hit from the baseline, but Central closed the half with four straight points to edge within 22-13, getting two Nelson foul shots and a Quinn basket.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 17 points three times in the third quarter — the last time at 36-19 on a pair of Gutridge foul shots with 26 points remaining in the frame — and pushed ahead 45-25 on a Thebiay free throw with 2:09 left in the contest.
While the Panthers were mostly done at that point, they kept fighting and finished the game on a 9-2 run highlighted by six Barba points in just 1:09, while senior Gabe Cirino added three points before Central ran out of time.
"They're a tough team," Chimienti said. "They switch defenses a lot so we were just trying to recognize what they were in and execute from there."
"(The key) was just moving the ball, not rushing anything," Thebiay added.
To see all the photos from this game, go to milesvance.smugmug.com.
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