Wildcats beat Tornado, win title-game berth

Westview leads early, then pulls away for good in the second half
by: Miles Vance WINNERS — Westview senior Austin Kuemper hugs coach Pat Coons while (left) Cole Gatewood and Miles Gatewood applaud their Friday win over North Medford.

PORTLAND - The Westview boys basketball team continued its trip down Murderers Row in Friday night's Class 6A state semifinals on Friday night.

But for the second game in a row, it was the Wildcats who absolutely killed.

Two days after knocking off second-ranked South Medford in their tournament quarterfinal, the No. 7 Wildcats were back in action, this time taking out third-ranked North Medford 57-44 at the Rose Garden.

The win lifted Metro League runner-up Westview's record to 21-6 and sent the Wildcats back into the Class 6A state championship game for the second consecutive year, while the Black Tornado - the third seed from the Southern Oregon Conference - fell to 20-6.

'I think mentally we played a really good game,' said Westview senior post Austin Kuemper, who led his team with 20 points and eight rebounds. 'We made some mistakes we'll need to clean up tomorrow, but we altogether just played a better game.'

'We played really great tonight,' added Westview junior wing Cole Gatewood, who came off the bench to score four points, make two steals, grab two rebounds and one assist in the second half. 'I think we played about a nine out of 10.'

The Cats started fast in their Friday semi, piling up 20 first-quarter points and pushing in front 20-13 after one period. Kuemper played a huge role in that strong start, racking up seven of his 20 points in the frame, while senior point guard Miles Gatewood hit three times from the floor and sophomore guard Dyrall Goods added two three-pointers in just over a minute.

But North Medford hung around in the second quarter, got five points from Chris Faust and a three-pointer by Jared Knox that cut his team's deficit to 25-21 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left in the half.

Westview moved back in front 32-23 at the half, though, then extended their lead to 15 points with a 10-4 run at the start of the third period. There, Gatewood hit at the end of the fast break, Goods knocked down a runner in the lane, Phil Belding converted on a broken play, and Kuemper added back-to-back hoops to make it 42-27 with 3:42 to go in the frame.

North wasn't quite done yet, however, fighting back with seven Knox points in less than two minutes and cutting the Cats' edge to 46-38 entering the final period.

But Miles and Cole Gatewood made sure the Tornado didn't come all the way back. After Knox his two free throws to make it 46-40 at the start of the fourth, Cole Gatewood rebounded a Miles Gatewood miss and scored in the air, Miles Gatewood buried a 'three,', and Cole Gatewood scored on another putback to make it 53-40 with 4:07 left on the clock.

Goods then tacked on four points in the final 2:19 to seal Westview's victory.

'I was really ready today for tonight's game,' Cole Gatewood said. 'There were nerves, but you've got to play through it. It feels amazing.'

'We thought Miles competed. He really goes hard all the time,' Westview coach Pat Coons said. 'Cole gave us a nice lift too, and they had no answer for Austin.'

And the win gave the Wildcats a second straight shot at Jesuit in the state finale.

'It's all we've been doing the past 3-1/2 months,' Kuemper said. 'It's our main goal, and we came through.'

Miles Gatewood had 15 points, five assists and two steals, and Goods finished with 12 points. Knox led North Medford with 12 points, Faust had nine points and nine rebounds, and Jordan Browne-Moore went for five points, six rebounds and three steals.