Wilsonville boys basketball knocks off Churchill to earn title-game berth
The Wildcats are back.
The Wilsonville boys basketball team — four-time state champions under head coach Chris Roche and title-game participants in each of the last five Class 5A state tournaments (before the 2020 tourney was canceled after one game due to COVID-19 and the 2021 event was eliminated completely) — are back in the state championship game.
The third-ranked Wildcats won their second straight game at the 2022 Class 5A tournament on Friday, March 11, using their strength in the final three quarters to beat second-ranked Churchill 58-41 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
"(It was a) great performance, and we got contributions from everybody who played," said Wilsonville senior post Logan Thebiay, who finished with nine points (on 4 of 8 shooting from the field and a 1 of 4 day at the free throw line), along with a school-record 18 rebounds, two assists and a steal. "It's exciting because we seem to be doing some little things better now than earlier in season."
"I thought the team played hard and competed well," said senior guard Enzo Chimienti, who scored 13 points (on 4 of 9 shooting from the field and a 5 of 5 day at the foul line), along with three rebounds and one assist. "We fell behind early in the game, but we kept our heads up and kept fighting. I'm super proud of that because tonight, against a team as good as Churchill, if we panicked, we could have been buried. We didn't panic, and eventually, we got it done."
With the win — Wilsonville's 15th straight — the Wildcats improved to 26-2 overall after winning the Northwest Oregon Conference. Next up, Wilsonville will face fourth-ranked Silverton — a 50-36 upset winner over top-ranked Redmond in its Friday semifinal — in the Class 5A championship game at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, March 12.
Looking ahead to their championship matchup against Silverton — a team that beat Wilsonville in the 2015 title contest — Chimienti said his team would be ready.
"Everybody in this tourney is good so there is no time to relax," he said. "You have to grind. I think we are beginning to grind better now as a team."
Churchill, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 22-6 overall after winning the Midwestern League.
The Lancers were led by senior guard Ty Weiskind's 13 points (on 6 of 14 shooting from the field, with one 3-pointer and an 0 of 2 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds and one assist. Senior guard Samaje Morgan added 10 points (on 4 of 11 shooting from the field and a 2 of 2 day at the foul line), along with two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
In the win over Churchill, the Wildcats started slowly, trailing 7-0 when Weiskind scored on a layup assisted by Morgan with 4 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first quarter.
But the Wildcats awoke then and there, finishing the opening quarter on a 9-5 run that brought them within 12-9 at the end of the frame. That stretch was highlighted by five points (including a three-point play) from junior Tristan Davis, a jumpshot by sophomore Kallen Gutridge and a putback by Thebiay in the final second of the stanza.
While Churchill pushed ahead 17-9 at the start of the second quarter — getting a 3-pointer from senior Matthew Forsyth and a layin by Weiskind — Wilsonville took over from there. The Wildcats closed the period on a 12-3 run over the final 6:29 of the half to lead 21-20 at the break.
Along the way, junior Maxim Wu had the biggest impact, knocking down two 3-pointers and scoring eight points in the final 5:34 of the half, while Davis and Thebiay added two points each.
Ahead by just a single point at the half, the Wildcats made sure they stayed ahead the rest of the game. After Churchill cut its deficit to 30-27 on a Morgan layin with 3:16 to go in the quarter, Wilsonville pulled away to lead 34-27 at the end of the third quarter thanks to jumpshots by both Wu and Chimienti.
Churchill was still down just 36-28 with 6:24 left in the contest, but Wilsonville responded with a 7-0 run — five of those points by Chimienti — and outscored the Lancers 22-13 the rest of the way.
Chimienti set the pace there, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter, while Thebiay added five — including a dunk — Wu hit 5 of 6 foul shots and Gutridge tacked on three more points to leave Churchill behind.
"Churchill is so talented and Morgan is a fantastic player, so we knew we had to have our 'A' game," Thebiay said. "But not only did we contain him, we did a good job all the way around. It was truly a team effort."
Wu led Wilsonville with 15 points (on 4 of 5 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers and a 5 of 8 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. Davis finished with 14 points (on 5 of 10 shooting from the field, including one 3-pointer and a 3 of 4 day at the foul line), along with four assists.
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