Wildcats held without a field goal in fourth quarter

Coach Chris Roche could have pinned it on any number of errors down the stretch — bad shots, unforced turnovers, missed free throws.

But the flaws he found in the Wilsonville boys basketball team were far more fundamental.

The Wildcats were outrebounded, outhustled and outfoxed in a 45-41 loss to rival Sherwood in front of a near-capacity crowd at home Jan. 31, going the entire fourth quarter without a field goal in their first setback of the regular season.

“It’s not any specific play at the end — it’s a lot more how we approached it overall,” Roche said. “Our commitment to great shots was marginal early in the game, and we paid for that. Our commitment to preparing in practice was marginal, and I believe we paid for that. We got killed on the glass, and we paid for that. At some point, you’ve got to win some of those toughness areas to beat a good team.”

Maybe it will serve as a wake-up call for sixth-ranked Wilsonville (12-4, 5-1 in the Northwest Oregon Conference), which had won its previous six games by an average of 18 points per game.

It was just the Wildcats’ second loss of the season to an Oregon team, the other coming against Silverton in the finals of their home tournament in late December.

Wilsonville held an opponent below the 50-point benchmark for the 13th time in 16 games, but it mustered a season low in offensive production as the No. 9 Bowmen (11-4, 5-1) used a variety of defensive schemes to capitalize on their size and length.

Entering their Feb. 4 home game against Milwaukie at 7:15 p.m., the Wildcats were locked in a three-way tie with Sherwood and Sandy for first place in the NWOC.

“It’s not going to get any easier,” Roche said. “We’ve got to dig in and get better. We had one of our worst practices of the year (the day before facing the Bowmen). If we become better and more consistent in practice, maybe we’ll be able to fight through adversity better. Sometimes, I don’t know how much kids believe that. But with our best teams, that’s been the case. They practice hard, and then they play well. This team isn’t as committed to practice yet.”

Wilsonville freshman Zach Reichle scored a team-high 11 points, including eight in the first half, while sophomores Tyler Hieb and Sam Bullock each added 10.

Hieb sank two free throws early in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 37-32 lead, but Sherwood held them to four points the rest of the way as it took control. Wilsonville lost its lead for good at 40-39 on junior guard Ben Milligan’s 3-pointer midway through the final period.

Trailing by three after a turnaround shot by Bowmen guard Keegan Lawrence, the Wildcats lost the ball out of bounds on a routine handoff. Down four after a free throw by Milligan, Wilsonville committed another turnover.

Hieb then bricked the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 2:09 to play, Bullock missed a corner three with 1:25 left and Sherwood point guard Evan Kitto pushed his team’s lead to 45-39 on two free throws with 41 seconds remaining.

Kitto came up with a steal of an errant pass on the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, effectively sealing their fate.

“We knew this was going to be a battle,” Wilsonville co-captain Tyler Martin said. “They stuck to their game plan better than we did, they were more physical and they crushed us on the boards. ... We look for the great shots, but they weren’t coming because we weren’t screening with purpose or cutting with purpose.

“It would’ve been nice to win this.”

Bowmen forward Jordan Kurahara scored a game-high 16 points and added four blocks, including three in the first quarter.

The 6-foot-8 senior anchors the defense for a Sherwood squad that is vying for its first conference title since 2006.

“He’s one of the best posts in 5A basketball,” Roche said. “He’s not just tall — he’s very athletic. (The Bowmen) have a lot of length, and you really can’t simulate it in practice. It takes some time to get used to it. But we made a lot of mental errors. We talked about how one team would handle the game with more poise and purpose, and I thought they did more than us. They definitely deserved to win.”

The Wildcats trailed 14-5 at the end of the first quarter and fell behind 18-7 before rallying with a 10-0 run that included 3-pointers by Hieb and Bullock, a layup by sophomore forward Jack McNulty and a jumper by senior Zach Malvar in the second quarter.

Wilsonville scored seven of its 20 first-half points at the foul line, staying within striking distance in part because of Sherwood’s foul trouble. But it tallied just 11 points in the first and fourth quarters combined.

The teams will meet again Feb. 25 in the final edition of the NWOC rivalry before the Bowmen jump to Class 6A.

“I love our kids — they’re great kids — but we’re not a great team yet,” Roche said. “We could be. If this helps us get there, great. But it won’t happen because we lost (this game). We have to change our behavior and change our approach for us to get better. The question isn’t, ‘Will this make it happen?’ It’s, ‘Are those kids going to be determined now to change a little bit?’ If they are, then maybe we can become great. But this is who we are right now.”

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Sherwood 45, Wilsonville 41

Jan. 31 at Wilsonville High School

1 2 3 4 F

Sherwood 14 8 10 13 — 45

Wilsonville 5 15 15 6 — 41

Sherwood (45): Jordan Kurahara 16, Ben Milligan 12, Evan Kitto 7, Lucas Johnson 6, Keegan Lawrence 4.

Wilsonville: Zach Reichle 11, Sam Bullock 10, Tyler Hieb 10, Zach Malvar 4, Tyler Martin 4, Jack McNulty 2.

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