Wilsonville puts up 26 points in the fourth quarter, goes on to take fourth place

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Brandon Ford comes down with a rebound during Thursdays loss to Wilsonville.

EUGENE – The Sandy Pioneers’ whirlwind season came to end on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena. The Wilsonville Wildcats used a huge second half run to knock off Sandy, 52-36, to avenge their two regular season losses to the Pioneers.

"They didn’t really do too much different from the first couple times we played them," Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “Wilsonville always plays hard and disciplined. They made some shots and we didn’t make the shots we usually make.”

With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Sandy's Karsten Short grabbed an offensive rebound directly below the rim and flipped it back up and in. Short's put-back finished off a 15-2 Sandy run and put the Pioneers on top by four points.

Wilsonville then called a timeout to try to stop the bleeding, and it could not have worked better. Wilsonville cranked up the intensity on both sides of the ball and in the next seven minutes the Wildcats went on a 20-3 scoring run.

Defensively, Wilsonville became much more physical. Sandy did not handle the pressure well and consistently gave the ball away with bad shots and ill-advised turnovers.

“We just didn’t shoot well at all for some reason,” Sandy post Justin Adams said. “We left a lot of points on the board.”

The Pioneers’ shooting woes started early in the game, but didn’t hurt them until the second half. They shot just 24 percent from the field and 58 percent from the line in the contest.

Sandy guard Jacob Groom, who led the team with 13 points, put the Wilsonville run to an end midway through the fourth quarter when he sank all three free throws after being fouled behind the arc. That didn’t matter so much, because Sandy had no answer for Wilsonville guard Ryan Walsh.

Walsh went 0-for-8 from the field in the first three quarters, but he suddenly couldn’t miss in the fourth. In the final period, Walsh made all four of his field goals and scored 13 of his 15 total points.

Wilsonville shot 50 percent from the field in the game, and Walsh’s late surge was a big reason why. However, what really allowed the Wildcats to pull away was their tenacity attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line. At the three-minute mark of the third quarter, Wilsonville had not made a single trip to the charity stripe. In the final 11 minutes, the Wildcats shot 20 free throws, making 15 of them. Twelve of Wilsonville’s last 14 points came at the line.

The Wildcats’ swarming defense and efficient free-throw shooting, combined with Walsh’s hot hand, proved to be too much for the Pioneers.

“We were the only team to beat them twice in league and it is really hard to beat a good team three times,” Maki said.

With the loss, Sandy finished with a 19-8 season record. Wilsonville advanced to beat West Albany 50-47 in the fourth-place game.

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