Trojans tall timber swats lots of shots

Big front line makes it tough for Wilson foes to find the hoop

Wilson coach Rick Earl notices a change in the front line's demeanor when opponents try to drive for a layup. That's when senior Kristin Gunderson and juniors Jessie Shetters and Tabitha Boyd go into shot-blocking mode.

'They don't just want to block the shot. They want to block the shot into the third row,' Earl says. 'They're really aggressive about blocking shots.'

Gunderson heartily agrees.

'It gets the crowd into the game when you send one into the third row,' she says. 'And it gets into the mind of the other team. They aren't going to shoot that shot again.'

Against Jefferson last week, the Trojans blocked 12 shots. Shetters, who is 6-5, had nine of them.

The Trojans' inside threat, on defense and offense, has carried them to the top of the Portland Interscholastic League a year after they missed the state playoffs.

After beating Cleveland 64-25 on Tuesday, Wilson was 13-2 overall and 9-0 in league games. The Trojans haven't lost since Dec. 1.

'Being tall is a definite advantage,' Shetters says. 'When the other team walks onto the court, it gets in their head that I'm huge and they have to shoot around me. That's an advantage before the game starts.'

The big guns

Shetters has received letters from 50 colleges. She is following in the footsteps of sister Jenny, who leads Cal State-Northridge with 13.1 points per game as a 6-3 sophomore. Jessie averages 10 points and nearly four blocks per game.

Gunderson, 6-0, says Shetters is a challenge to practice against.

'It's difficult to get a shot off against her because she's so tall,' Gunderson says. 'But it's more than that. She has good anticipation of where a shot is going to come from. And she sees the ball really well.'

Shetters sees the court well on offense, too. Wilson is particularly dangerous when Shetters moves to the free-throw line and attracts a double team, because she simply passes off to a slashing Gunderson, who scores at the basket.

Gunderson is averaging about 15 points per game.

'I'd be lost without Jessie,' she says. 'And when she starts passing to me, that opens her up. We feed off each other.

'An opponent can double-team one of us, but not both of us.'

The Trojans, who have scored fewer than 42 points just once, are giving up an average of only 30 while blocking six shots per game.

The quick guns

Boyd, 6-0, usually comes off the bench and is one of the quicker Trojans who funnel the ball to Shetters and Gunderson. She also maintains a shot-blocking mentality.

'Anything that comes down the lane, we want to send it right back,' Boyd says. 'It's all about making a statement.'

Because of Wilson's strong front line, opposing teams generally focus on beating the Trojans in the backcourt. The strategy nearly worked for Jefferson, Benson and Lincoln. But senior guards Liz Seely, Erica Earl (the coach's daughter), Kelly Rattay, Angie Corning and Kathleen Coolman have performed well enough.

'The chemistry on this team is as good as I've had,' says Rick Earl, who guided Wilson to an 18-0 league record two seasons ago. 'We have a strong frontcourt, and our guards have handled the pressure from other teams. And we're learning to play up to the intensity of close games.'

Gunderson hopes that the Trojans' play helps them particularly well in late February, when the state tournament starts.

'We've got the players to do well in the playoffs,' she says. 'If we play as a team, like we have been playing, we think we can play with anyone.'

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..