CORVALLIS: Wilsonville head coach Chris Roche had a good attitude at halftime of the state championship game at the boys OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union Boys 5A Basketball State Championships played Saturday afternoon at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis. Wilsonville (27-2) won the game, defeating Silverton, 34-30.
The Wildcats had just been blanked in the second quarter by a defensive-minded Silverton team choking off every angle of attack. Wilsonville went into halftime with just six total points and facing an 11-6 deficit to the Foxes.
“It can be embarrassing to have six points in the half but the way we looked at it was, we’re only down five,” Roche said. “We make one tiny run and we’re right there. We had to look at the glass full side of it, which was: our defense kept us in it.”
But as Wilsonville did not put up a point the entire quarter – the Wildcats were 0-for-4 from the floor – Silverton did not score for the final seven minutes.
It was a beautiful stalemate, with two championship teams selling out on the defensive end in a half that can only be described as INTENSE.
Whereas the third/fifth game between Churchill and Redmond, played immediately before, was free flowing, the championship game was played by teams that knew what was at stake. Wilsonville was vying for its fourth title since 2016 and playing for its basketball alumni who were denied the opportunity to play because of Covid in 2020 and 2021. Silverton sought its first title since the 2015 season and to win the coveted football-basketball double after defeating Thurston for the 5A title, 26-20, in November.
In the locker room between halves, Silverton coach Jamie McCarty was hoping to clone that defensive effort over the final 16 minutes.
“That might have been the best defensive half I’ve ever coached,” he said. “That first 16 minutes I thought the boys played with such grit and heart. They played that way the entire game.”
“They were incredible,” Roche said of Silverton in the first half. “We couldn’t do anything. They took us out of everything we tried to do.”
Expecting more of the same in your face, in the passing lane defense in the second half, Wilsonville made a slight adjustment that paid big dividends.
“We tried to do things with more pace and get in the gaps a little quicker and attack the gaps rather than everything screen and cut,” Roche said. “We put the ball on the floor a little more. I think it worked for us.”
Wilsonville put points on the board 49 seconds into the third quarter when Kallen Gutridge drove baseline, was fouled and hit two free throws. Silverton countered immediately, as senior point guard Jordan McCarty found Joseph Haugen underneath for a sweet reverse.
Wilsonville scored again on its next possession. Gutbridge dished to 6-10 senior center Logan Thebiay, the seventh man and only contributor on the 2020 Wildcat squad that won its quarterfinal at Gill before Covid shut down the tournament. Thebiay powered home the jam to get Wilsonville within 13-10.
The run was starting!
Wilsonville senior guard Enzo Chimienti said getting that first field goal was huge for the team’s spirits.
“It meant a lot to get the momentum going,” he said. “We were playing off of momentum a lot in the second half.”
Chimienti, a player Roche called “a glue guy” after Friday’s win, became a central figure in Wilsonville’s comeback. McCarty was locking up Gutridge. Neil Efimov, a long 6-3 senior, had point guard Maxim Wu. Chimienti, the only other ball handler on the floor for Wilsonville, had to step up and did so in a big way. His second basket of the game – he hit a jumper in the lane late in the first quarter – a full speed drive to the goal, pulled the Wildcats within 13-12.
Wilsonville took its first lead of the game, 17-15, precisely three minutes later when Wu, who attempted only two shots all game, got a friendly bounce on a three pointer from the top of the key. McCarty answered with a stick back off of a scramble to tie the game once more with two minutes remaining in the period.
That’s when Chimienti, with the ball in his hands, took over. The 6-0 senior hit a jumper in the key to put Wilsonville ahead once more, then drained a three-pointer off of a Wu assist, and finally tossed in a free throw that made it 23-17 Wildcats going to the fourth. Blanked in the second quarter, Wilsonville had won the third, 17-6. The Wildcats still hadn’t been able to get many shots off against Silverton’s swarming effort, but they made six of the seven shots they attempted!
Chimienti scored on a lay-up two minutes into the fourth quarter, which brought Wilsonville’s lead to its largest of the game. It felt as if a bucket or two more was all the team would need with the 6-10 Thebiay and 6-7junior Tristan Davis protected their basket.
“I thought we executed pretty well on offense in the first half and even in the second half I thought we got to the rim really well,” Coach McCarty opined. “We just didn’t finish as well as we needed to. I think we missed 4-5 point-blank lay ins in that second half. I think that was the difference.”
While Silverton (23-6) was only 6-for-20 shooting – 30 percent -- in the second half, Wilsonville was 10-for-12, or 83 percent. Teams don’t lose scoring that efficiently and Wilsonville was no exception. After McCarty hit a deep three, the team’s only three pointer until the buzzer, to pull Silverton within four, Wilsonville immediately responded with rugged interior buckets from Davis and Thebiay and another lay up from Chimienti to grow the Wildcat advantage to 31-21 with 2:33 remaining.
As daunting as a 10-point lead was given the scoring frequency in the game, Silverton did not help itself by wasting precious seconds both failing to foul and setting up its offense. The Foxes got a layup from leading scorer Efimov, his first points of this game; on a runout with 1:46 to go, but it was a free throw shooting contest after that with too little time for Silverton to make a run. Efimov scored a long three at the buzzer, but Wilsonville was already celebrating its title before the ball fell through the hoop.
Chimienti was named Moda Health Player of the Game after scoring a game-high 15 points for Wilsonville on 6-of-8 shooting.
“He was amazing,” Roche said. “He was great all year. He’s one of the most unselfish kids we’ve ever had. But he can play that way. We’re not surprised at all that he stepped up big in the biggest game of his life. I’m so happy for him.”
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid,” Chimienti said. “I had the seniors from last year and the year before in my heart during this game. They weren’t able to compete in the state tournament like they wanted to so bad. I wanted to give it my all for them.”
Chimienti credited a halftime adjustment for the success Wilsonville achieved after the break.
“In the first half, we were playing kind of weak and soft,” he explained. “Coach brought us in at halftime and said we had to play with more confidence and play tougher and we went out and did that.”
“I knew Silverton was going to be an aggressive team,” he added. “I can’t back down from that. No one can. We had to play our game and play tough.”
Playing tough for Wilsonville meant owning the glass. The Wildcats outrebounded smaller Silverton, 26-13, and valued their second-half possessions, turning the ball over just five times.
McCarty, the football quarterback for Silverton, had 11 points to lead the scoring for the Foxes. Brown had nine, with seven boards, but did not score in the second half.
“Wilsonville came out and made some adjustments and hurt us down low a little bit,” Coach McCarty said. “Enzo really, really played well that second half for them and they scored the ball a little better in the second half.”
McCarty had big praise for his team despite the loss.
“In my mind, they’re the best defensive team in the state. We don’t have a lot of height and we don’t have a lot of girth but we have so much heart and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Asked the significance of the “Wilsonville dynasty” claiming another title, Roche preferred to focus on his players who were on the court today.
“I’m proud that we have the pandemic two years gone and we did it again,” he said. “That’s really fulfilling, but it’s not as important as what these kids achieved today, together. They did it the right way. They were good teammates. They played hard and they didn’t quit. We could have easily quit today and we did not.”
In the boys 3rd/5th game:
Churchill 67, Redmond 66:
The third-fifth game between third-seeded Churchill and top-seeded Redmond was pure entertainment. Both teams played loose and both teams played well, showcasing the abundant talent on these two sides.
It got spirited early in the fourth quarter after a stare down produced technical fouls on both squads. Churchill led by nine at the time, but the intensity ratcheted up tenfold and produced exceptional basketball by both teams down the stretch.
Redmond never tied the game but twice pulled within one, first on a driving layup from Garrett Osborne, who had an incredible game; and next on a banked three-pointer from Tanner Jones with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Redmond called time out after Jones’ bomb to set up its defense, but Churchill got free and ran out the clock to complete the win.
Lancer senior Samaje Morgan had a stellar last game. He scored 14 in the first half and 14 in the second. He had a stretch of steals and breakaway buckets midway through the third that helped Churchill establish a lead on the top-seeded Panthers. And his no-look assist – No. 7 on the game – to Cooper Case gave the Lancers a four-point lead with 32 seconds to play.
The win for Churchill (23-6) marked the last in the 32 year career of head coach Kelly Bokn, who is moving to Idaho after the year. His team gave him a thrill to remember.
Ty Weiskind supported Morgan’s effort with 15 points and four assists. The 6-4 senior hit big shot after big shot during that fourth quarter stretch where both teams were scoring end-to-end.
Osborne matched Morgan with 28 points and was the fourth-quarter engine bringing Redmond back. He scored 16 in the quarter, more than anyone else on his team scored for the game. Evan Otten, a 6-8 junior center, also was a standout for the Panthers (21-7), with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Nathan Wachs impressed with 10 points and five assists.
In the boys 4th/6th game:
Crater 50, Ashland 45:
Crater scored five points in a 24-second span of the fourth quarter to break open a 39-39 tie and was never headed thereafter.
The Comets recovered from a slow first quarter start to lead by one at halftime, but were tied at 39-all when Caden Lasater hit a triple and Colton Vranes followed with a lay-up. Ashland missed its next three shots and could never recover.
Tate Broesder had 23 points and six rebounds to pace sixth-seeded Crater (23-6). Logan Price chipped in with eight points and seven boards.
Egan Shields, a 6-10 junior, scored 15, with nine caroms, to lead Ashland (16-11). Junior lead guard Izzy Golden added 10 points and eight rebounds. Standout Hawthorn Lapierre contributed nine points and nine rebounds in his last game in a Grizzly uniform.
Sportsmanship Trophy: Ashland
All-Tournament First Team:
Maxim Wu, Wilsonville
Evan Otten, Redmond
Neil Efimov, Silverton
Jordan McCarty, Silverton
Samaje Morgan, Churchill
All-Tournament Second Team:
Egan Shields, Ashland
Tristan Davis, Wilsonville
Garrett Osborne, Redmond
Logan Thebiay, Wilsonville
Tate Broesder, Crater