Wilsonville senior Kallen Gutridge dunks for two of his 22 points in Friday's NWOC win at Putnam. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Wilsonville senior Kallen Gutridge dunks for two of his 22 points in Friday's NWOC win at Putnam. (Photo by Jon Olson)

MILWAUKIE – A month ago, three-time reigning 5A boys basketball champion Wilsonville had a close call when it needed overtime to turn back Putnam at home.

So when the teams met for a rematch Friday night at Putnam with first place implications in the Northwest Oregon Conference, the No. 3 Wildcats were all business.

Wilsonville (14-3, 8-0) took the lead in the second quarter and didn't look back against the No. 6 Kingsmen (13-4, 7-2), padding its lead atop the conference with a 62-47 win. Senior guard Kallen Gutridge led the way with a game-high 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter after Putnam had cut the deficit to seven.

“I thought we played great tonight,” Wilsonville coach Chris Roche said. “I thought we were ready to go from the opening jump. … I'm very happy for us. We knew it was important and we were ready to roll.”

Putnam fell to 0-26 against Wilsonville since moving to the NWOC in 2010-11. The Kingsmen nearly broke through against the Wildcats on Jan. 5, but missed free throws in the fourth quarter proved costly in a 63-59 overtime defeat.

Wilsonville knew it couldn't afford to mess around with Putnam on Friday.

“They're a great team, too,” Gutridge said. “They beat La Salle twice, so that really caught our attention. And just how close they played us in the first game. So we were really ready to come to play today. Especially because if we win today, we now have to lose three games to lose control of the league. It was really important for us. It was just a massive game.”

Junior wing Jacob Boss and burly 6-foot-5 junior post Emmitt Fee each added 12 points for Wilsonville. But it was the 6-4 Gutridge – a fourth-year starter who was first-team all-state last season – at the tip of the spear.

The left-handed Gutridge, the quarterback for Wilsonville's state champion football team, showed his athleticism with a rocking, two-handed breakaway dunk in the first half. And he put Putnam away from the perimeter in the fourth quarter, knocking down his third and fourth three-pointers of the game to open a 57-42 lead with 3:53 left.

Gutridge, who has signed to play quarterback at Oregon State, leads the Wildcats in scoring at 18.5 points per game.

“There are a lot of good players in this state, but I'm not sure how many are better than him,” Roche said. “We've moved him to point, we've asked him to share the ball more, so he's scoring a bit less, but he's playing off the charts. He's defending their best player. He does it all. … Everybody kind of sleeps on him, and I don't know why.”

Wildcats senior Kyle Counts, a 6-7 wing who was an NWOC first-team selection last season, continues to work his way back to full strength after undergoing a minor procedure on his knee in the offseason. Counts, averaging 13.9 points, came off the bench Friday and scored five points.

“His playing time has been very spotty,” Roche said of Counts, who has signed with St. Thomas, a Division I program in Minnesota. “We were going to play him tonight, and then I don't know how much he'll play for a while because we've got to try to help get him right.”

Gutridge said that Counts is playing at about 50 percent.

“He's not even close to 100 percent, and he's still incredible and helps us win a ton,” Gutridge said. “I'm excited to see how he plays when he's 100 percent. That's the goal, but we'll see.”

Wilsonville led Putnam 32-21 at half, but the Kingsmen fought back to within 36-31 in the third quarter on a jumper by junior wing Jaiden Pickett. When Putnam senior Brooklynd Latta drove for a three-point play to start the fourth quarter, Wilsonville's lead was at 45-38. But Gutridge scored 10 of the Wildcats' next 12 points to seal the win.

Roche was wary of the Kingsmen, who are much improved after going 14-10 last season.

“I don't think we respected them fully the first time,” Roche said. “We know they're good players, but I don't think we were aware of how good they are, and how urgent they are. These kids play like seniors who want to do something, and they're going to do something. So I'm pleased for our league, because that team is going to be trouble for somebody. I'm happy for us that we got through this.”

Pickett scored 15 points and senior wing Tyler Adams added 13 points for Putnam. The Kingsmen were playing without one of their top defenders and ball handlers in senior guard Chase McDonald, who suffered a hyperextended elbow Jan. 26 against Hood River Valley.

High drama in Sky-Em

Junction City senior guard Keivon Riley hit a three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to cap an 18-point comeback in the fourth quarter Tuesday as the No. 4 Tigers stunned No. 5 Marist Catholic 60-58 in a 4A Sky-Em League showdown.

“It was pretty amazing. That's the only way to explain it,” said first-year Junction City coach Bart Rothenberger, who took over this season for his father, Craig. “My dad was sitting there and he goes, 'In 44 years, I don't think I've ever seen anything like this.'”

Host Junction City (15-2, 3-1) was looking to avenge a 44-37 loss at Marist Catholic (11-6, 3-1) in the first round of league play. But the Spartans dominated play into the fourth quarter, leading by 18 points with 5:15 left.

“We played absolutely horrible for 3 ½ quarters, and Marist played exceptional,” Rothenberger said.

The Tigers went to a full-court press and began forcing turnovers and hitting three-pointers. They made six three-pointers in the fourth quarter, four by Riley.

“We got some turnovers and our hoop just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Rothenberger said. “And their hoop got smaller and smaller.”

A three-pointer by Riley cut the lead to 54-49, and another three-pointer by senior Cooper Rothenberger made it 54-52 with 2:28 remaining. The Tigers took a one-point lead on two free throws by Riley with about one minute left.

Marist Catholic pulled ahead 58-57 on a layup by senior guard Peyton Tyner with 3.9 seconds to go, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.

Junction City had to go the length of the court, and the Spartans had a foul to give. After three timeouts – two by the Tigers, the last one by Marist Catholic – the inbound pass went to Riley in the backcourt.

“We were thinking that they would foul as soon as we threw the ball in,” Bart Rothenberger said. “We told Keivon, 'Hey, be ready to act like you're shooting it, so maybe you could get a free call.' He didn't even take a dribble. He just catches and hucks it, because he thought he might get fouled right away.”

The ball went cleanly through the basket at the buzzer for a 60-58 win, sending a shockwave through the packed gym.

Riley scored 20 of his season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter. Senior wing Avery Thomas had 15 points and Cooper Rothenberger added eight points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Junior guard Christian Guerrero scored 16 points for Marist Catholic. The Spartans struggled on free throws in the fourth quarter, making 4 of 10.

Bart Rothenberger said the final basket reminded him of when he coached Mohawk to a 65-64 double-overtime win over Damascus Christian in the 1A final in 2007. In that game, Danny Reiter hit a half-court shot in the final seconds of regulation to tie.

No. 2 tops No. 1 in 2A battle

No. 2 Western Christian avenged its only loss of the season and handed No. 1 Regis its first defeat by going on the road to rout the Rams 76-43 in a 2A Tri-River Conference game Tuesday.

Junior guard Gavin Hall scored 25 points and sophomore center Diggs Sladek collected 22 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Pioneers (22-1, 13-1).

“It was a great game for our guys,” Western Christian coach Gary Hull said. “We were totally focused on this game to perform at a high level. It was a great team effort, as far as defensively. We rebounded well, defended well, and we shot really well in the mid-range game.”

Hull said senior guard Kuga Matsumoto played excellent defense on explosive Regis junior guard Isaiah Koehnke, who scored a team-high 17 points. And the 6-3 Sladek was a force in the paint.

“He played like 6-7, 6-8,” Hull said.

It was a much different game than the first meeting Jan. 5 at Western Christian, when the Rams prevailed 63-58. The Pioneers had 13 turnovers in the first meeting but only four Tuesday.

“The first time we played, we didn't execute as well in the last two or three minutes, and we didn't shoot as well as we hoped,” Hull said.

Regis (20-2, 11-2) suffered its second loss of the season Thursday, falling 70-67 at co-No. 7 Willamina. The Rams got back on the winning track Friday with a 75-59 victory at Santiam.

Keeney returns for Tualatin

Two-time reigning 6A champion Tualatin, depleted by injuries this season, added an important piece Thursday with the return of junior forward Nolan Keeney.

The 6-5 Keeney, out all year after breaking and re-breaking his collarbone during football season, was a key contributor as the No. 4 Timberwolves (12-6, 3-1) posted an 87-80 home win over West Linn in a Three Rivers League game.

In 16 minutes off the bench, Keeney had 10 points and nine rebounds. He showed his versatility by playing point guard, wing and post.

“He's kind of like a Swiss Army knife for us,” Tualatin coach Bubba Lemon said. “It was no surprise what he did for us, it was just nice having that puzzle piece there. He was all over the place. He was taking the ball coast to coast. He's a good three-point shooter, so that's going to come for him, for sure.”

Keeney transferred from Westview, where he played on the varsity as a sophomore. A college football prospect as a quarterback, he also could have a future in basketball, according to Lemon.

“He's one of those kids who could actually choose what he wants to do in college,” Lemon said.

The Timberwolves rebounded from a 72-69 home loss to Lakeridge on Tuesday by beating West Linn to force a three-way tie for first place with the Lions (8-9, 3-1) and No. 10 Oregon City (11-5, 3-1). Sophomore Jemai Lake scored 29 points and senior Jaden Steppe had 27 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

Tualatin has played all season without senior forward Jayden Fortier, who suffered a torn ACL in the 6A football final. Since late December, the Timberwolves also have been without senior guard AJ Noland (knee tendinitis).

“We're hoping to have him a little bit in the playoffs,” Lemon said of Noland, who has signed to play football at Colorado State. “The most important thing for him is to be ready for football next year.

“We still have a good overall team that can make a good go in the playoffs if we put all the pieces together.”