Strong fourth quarter lifts Wildcats in first NWOC victory

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Kristen Burke shoots a floater Jan. 24 against St. Helens during a league game at home. The freshman finished with a game-high 11 points.Jocelyn Welberg took advantage of an opening at the top of the key early in the second quarter and launched a three-pointer, the ball slamming unintentionally into the backboard before dropping through the net.

Her reaction — a mixture of delight and embarrassment — said plenty about the Wilsonville girls basketball team.

The Wildcats were far from perfect, but they came through in the fourth quarter to hold off St. Helens in a 46-36 victory at home Jan. 24.

It was the first win of the calendar year and the first league triumph for Wilsonville (4-9, 1-3 in the Northwest Oregon Conference), which snapped a five-game losing streak that began in late December.

But the Wildcats flirted with an undesirable footnote, nearly allowing the Lions (0-12, 0-4) to capture their first win of the season.

“We’re making some of the same (mistakes) that we’ve been making, and that’s a little frustrating,” Wilsonville coach Cindy Anderson said. “But they battled and fought through adversity. We talked about adversity before the game. Do you get soft, do you get hard or do you battle through it?”

The Wildcats battled through it with a strong fourth quarter in which they outscored St. Helens 13-5 to pull away.

Leading by one point early in the frame after a free throw by Lions junior Bella Roth, Wilsonville engineered a decisive 11-1 run to take a commanding 44-33 lead.

The surge included back-to-back baskets by junior guard Kendall Tate, a jumper by sophomore Karlin McNiel, two transitions buckets in a row by senior ChiAnn Morris and a free throw by Tate.

“Kendall and ChiAnn stepped up big-time there,” Anderson said. “ChiAnn imposed her will and got some big buckets. Kendall, same thing. ... I think our press bothered them because we kept it on. We didn’t always get transition points, but we put it in their heads and wore them out. It’s a great win. I’m proud of the kids.”

Freshman guard Kristen Burke scored a game-high 11 points, including seven in the first quarter, while Morris added nine for the Wildcats. Tate, Welberg and McNiel chipped in seven apiece.

Their combined efforts amounted to Wilsonville’s third-best offensive performance of the season, an encouraging sign for a team that is hoping to snag a playoff berth after missing out last year.

“We’ve struggled through so much adversity so far, and we’ve had people coming and going from different sports,” Morris said. “Having everyone here together again and playing as a team, that’s what really got us the win. ... We had a rough start to league, but after tonight I think we realized what we’re capable of as a team.”

Rianne Tupper and Emily Nollette scored 10 points apiece for St. Helens, which snagged a 26-24 lead early in the third quarter on a transition basket by Bella Roth and a 28-26 edge on a layup by Nollette shortly thereafter.

But the Wildcats pulled even on a drive by sophomore Alex Monello and never trailed again after another banked three-pointer by Welberg.

It seemed as if Wilsonville wouldn’t have much trouble with the Lions, building up a 20-9 lead on McNiel’s bucket midway through the second quarter. St. Helens, however, closed the frame on a 13-4 run that featured six points by Nollette, a layup in transition by sophomore Lydia Reardon and a three-pointer by Tupper.

“(Anderson) got us fired up,” Morris said. “She was yelling at halftime and got us pumped up. She told us we’re better than that, that we’ve got to put the heel on their throats and get the win.”

The Wildcats’ strong fourth quarter was cathartic for Anderson, who watched her team go scoreless from the field in the first half against Liberty three days earlier. In that game, a 37-25 loss, all five of Wilsonville’s points in the first two quarters came at the foul line.

“We just haven’t been able to put the ball in the bucket,” she said. “But the kids battled. We are getting better. We’re getting shots, and we’re spreading the ball around. ... Thank God for the backboard.”



Wilsonville 46, St. Helens 36

Jan. 24 at Wilsonville High School

1 2 3 4 F

St. Helens 5 17 9 5 — 36

Wilsonville 11 13 9 13 — 46

St. Helens (36): Emily Nollette 10, Rianne Tupper 10, Bella Roth 6, Lydia Reardon 5, Maggie Cochran 3, Nicole Harcourt 2.

Wilsonville (46): Kristen Burke 11, ChiAnn Morris 9, Jocelyn Welberg 7, Karlin McNiel 7, Kendall Tate 7, Alex Monello 3, Presley Braun 2.

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