Jacob Boss, in white, works his way upcourt for Wilsonville against Lennon Freenleaf (Faith Mithmeuangnueua)
Jacob Boss, in white, works his way upcourt for Wilsonville against Lennon Freenleaf (Faith Mithmeuangnueua)

MCMINNVILLE – Wilsonville seniors Kyle County and Kallen Gutridge are affectionately known in the Wildcat program as “Huey” and “Dewey,” two of Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews.

“Spend 10 minutes with them and you’ll get it,” said Wilsonville coach Chris Roche.

On Friday afternoon, Kyle Counts (Huey) scored a game-high 18 points and added four assists and Kallen Gutridge (Dewey) added 13 points and five assists to help Wilsonville rally from a 10-point first-half deficit to conference rival Rex Putnam to win, 57-51, in a semifinal game at the 2024 OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A Basketball State Championships at Linfield University.

The win, the third in as many opportunities this season versus the Kingsmen; put Wilsonville into the state championship game for the state-record eighth consecutive season.

“We’re not defining our program by getting to the championship game,” Roche said. “That’s not who we want to be. But, in the moment, when we’re trying to get there, it’s so hard to do it eight times in a row. It’s a tribute to the kids and how special they are. It’s not just this group but a decade’s worth of kids.”

This particular semifinal win was especially hard against a scrappy, quicker than quick Putnam team that unsettled Wilsonville for most of the first half and parts of the fourth quarter. Indeed, the game hung in the balance, tied at 49-49 with just over two minutes remaining, when Gutridge hit by far the biggest shot of the game, a three-pointer from well beyond NBA range that found nothing but net.

“He has no problems taking the big shot,” Roche said. “He makes a lot of them. If he misses he’s going to take the next one. He’s a special kid.”

Momentum had favored Putnam, which had scored four straight points on lay ins from Jaiden Pickett and Lennon Greenleaf to tie the game; when Dewey decided this was his time.

“The shot clock was winding down,” Gutridge explained. “I have confidence to make that shot, especially if they give me space. I just took that shot, was confident about it and it went in.”

No doubt.

Wilsonville added to its lead on its next possession. After Tyler Adams missed on a tying attempt from long range for Putnam, Emmitt Fee rebounded the ball and fed Gutridge for a lay-up with less than one minute remaining that finally ended Putnam’s upset hopes.

“We didn’t play our best ball in the first half,” said the 6-4 Gutridge, Wilsonville’s record-setting, state championship quarterback. “We caught our rhythm in the second half, took control of ourselves on offense and made great plays down the stretch.”

Putnam, playing its first semifinal since 1990, appeared ready to spring an upset when it turned a 15-11 first quarter deficit into a 31-21 lead late in the half. The Kingsmen’s brilliant second quarter featured “show and go” back door layups galore (aka “the Princeton offense”), plus triples from Adams, Pickett and Chase McDonald. Putnam turned Wilsonville over repeatedly in the quarter, using a trapping defense both full court and in the half court. Wilsonville finished the quarter with eight turnovers, as Putnam got more and more energy with every play it made.

Roche admitted that the Putnam trap affected his team’s play.

“They’re really good at it,” Roche observed. “They have great guard play and all can shoot and are athletic and quick, so them pressing and trapping makes sense. When we handle it well they get out of it but we struggled with it tonight and they kept going, It bothered us for sure. Even when we would beat their pressure, we didn’t slow down and never got into an offense the whole first half.”

Putnam took the trap off to start the third quarter. That’s when Wilsonville started to find its flow. The Wildcats had more freedom to attack inside and use its pronounced height advantage. Putnam’s eight-point halftime lead evaporated after four minutes on a bucket from junior Jacob Boss. Wilsonville also got nice work during the stretch from Counts, Gutridge and Nick Colyer to get to all square.

“We had an advantage inside so we wanted to pound the ball inside and play inside out,” Roche explained.

Wilsonville scored the go-ahead basket in the paint when Counts fed Ezra Carter for two, but Putnam, which missed the playoffs a year ago, did not go away. Brooklynd Latta, who battled foul trouble all game, made an athletic play in the paint to get Putnam even once more and the teams traded points the rest of the quarter, with Wilsonville finishing on top, 41-40.

Pickett, a junior Roche called one of the best unknown players in the state, started the fourth with a bucket to put Putnam, which started trapping again, back in front. Wilsonville valued the ball a little better this time and scored seven points in a row, capped by Gutridge’s ultra-athletic wing three, to go up 48-42 with less than five minutes to play.

Adams hit a corner three out of a time out to slice Wilsonville’s lead to three and, after a Carter free throw, Putnam’s quickness created those two baskets that brought the game to 49-all and set the stage for Gutridge’s long-distance dagger.

Putnam tried to put pressure on Wilsonville at the end but was unable to trap with the kind of success it had in the first half.

“We fly around,” said Putnam’s first-year head coach Ali Mihub. “Everything starts with us on defense. We just didn’t have our legs late.”

Four Kingsmen did the bulk of the scoring for Putnam. Adams had a team-high 14 points, including two three-pointers. Pickett had 13 points and a whopping six steals. Greenleaf and ultra-quick Chase McDonald scored 11 apiece, most on headlong drives to the cup.

Despite the loss, Mihub was bursting with pride over taking the two-time defending state champions to the brink.

“I’m so proud,” he said. “These kids put in so much work. They deserve all of this.”

Besides Huey and Dewey, Wilsonville’s roster was full of unsung heroes in this game. Fee was huge on the glass, scored six points and added four impressive assists. Colyer and Boss both scored from distance and up close. Carter provided great energy and five big rebounds off the bench.

Roche lauded his team for its determined second-half comeback.

“We didn’t get completely out of sorts in the first half; we were just sped up,” he said. “We regrouped and I thought we responded like champs in the second half.”

In the other boys’ semifinal…

No. 1 Summit 48, No. 4 Woodburn 33

Top-seeded Summit reached its third straight state final by using its length on defense and a 30-point, 13-rebound effort from Pearson Carmichael to thwart Woodburn, which was seeking to return to the state championship game for the first time since 1995.

Both teams started slowly. Woodburn’s zone defense confounded Summit for much of the first half, and the Storm, with every starter between 6-2 and 6-7, made easy looks a challenge for the smaller Bulldogs.

The game was tight at halftime, with Summit leading only by five, but the Storm opened the game up by outscoring Woodburn, 15-5, in the third. The key moment might have come with 2:02 remaining in the third, when the shot clock went out for a few minutes with Summit ahead by eight but the game still in doubt.

When play finally resumed, the Storm finished with a flourish, scoring the final seven points to take a 15-point lead into the fourth. Carmichael had five during that closing stretch and fed Jakob Hansen inside for the final bucket before the buzzer.

“It was a good chance for our guys to catch their breath and understand the situation in the game,” Summit coach Jon Frazier said about the impromptu time out. “We’ve got a bunch of mature seniors. I think they saw it as a moment to close this thing out and they took advantage.”

Woodburn got no closer than 11 points in the final period, on the last of four times that Summit fouled a three-point shooter, but the Bulldogs did not score again the rest of the game, and yielded a two-hand slam to Mac Bledsoe in the game’s final minute to punctuate the win.

Other than Carmichael’s 30 and at last a half-dozen assists from point guard Collin Moore, it wasn’t a great offensive day for Summit. The Storm shot only 3-for-18 from long range and 56 percent from the free throw line.

“It was a little ugly but, honestly, the defense carried the day today,” Frazier said. Pearson was incredible. He was not going to let us lose today. We took what they gave us, which was interior shots against that zone. Our guys I thought were mature and patient.”

Summit defense limited Woodburn’s leading scorer, 5-9 point guard Cruz Veliz, to just seven points, only two before the fourth quarter.

“Defensively our guys locked in and were able to use that length to make their movements a little more challenging,” Frazier said. “We were able to bottle up Cruz a little bit. He’s a fantastic player and for our guys to keep him somewhat in check was a real key for us.”

Dylon Renteria led Woodburn in scoring with nine points, but had eight after the game’s first 10 minutes and only one thereafter. Liam Slattum, the Bulldogs’ 6-9 senior, was one of three other players with five points. He added eight rebounds and three blocks.

In girls’ semifinal action…

No. 1 Silverton 48, No. 5 Redmond 29

Kyleigh Brown scored 11 first-quarter points and the top-seeded Foxes took advantage of seven turnovers from Redmond to race to a 15-2 lead after eight minutes. They were never seriously threatened thereafter.

Brown scored at the basket, in the midrange and from long distance while controlling the ball as the team’s point guard. She showed the same kind of dominance in Silverton’s quarterfinal win Thursday to the tune of 26 points.

Redmond, making its third straight appearance in the state tournament, bottled up Brown in the second quarter and got some offense from Azlynn Ure in the midrange game, but could not prevent Silverton from getting to the free throw line. The Foxes made 5-of-6 in the period and, coupled with an up and under from Grace Hayashida, took a 22-8 lead into the locker room.

Hiyashida extended her range in the third quarter. The senior’s second triple of the quarter, with less than two minutes remaining, gave Silverton its largest lead at 41-19.

Redmond made one last push in the fourth and shaved the lead to 14 thanks to successive deep threes from Dylan Cheney and Ure and a free throw from Rylee Morris, but that was as close as the Panthers would get. Brown’s first points since the first quarter quelled the threat and Silverton held Redmond scoreless the rest of the way.

Brown finished with a game-high 14 points despite being shut out for two and one-half quarters. She was a constant contributor, however, and also added a game-high 15 rebounds, a game-high five assists and a game-high three steals. Hayashida finished with 13 bounds and five boards. Olivia Boyd also reached double figures with 11 points. She scrapped for nine rebounds and shined at the stripe, making 9-of-10 free throws. Allie Mansur had a strong game with seven points.

Ure scored 11 to top Redmond. Leading scorer Mylaena Norton added eight, Aspen Morris scored two and had a team-high eight rebounds.

No. 2 Crater 54, No. 6 South Albany 47

Crater scored 11 of the third quarter’s final 14 points in dire circumstances to rally from behind and reach its first state championship game in 23 years.

The Comets led 28-23 early in the third quarter, after leading most of the first half, when South Albany went on a 6-0 run to take the lead, getting buckets from Taylor Donaldson, Kaylee Cordle and Nevaeh Ukaoma,

Addison Vranes had an immediate answer for second-seeded Crater but both Cordle and Donaldson hit a pair of charity tosses to give South Albany its biggest lead of the game.

Crater was reeling and, what’s worse, the engines that make it all work, Sage Winslow and Abigail Winslow, were on the bench in foul trouble.

Enter Jazmine Fernandez, a sophomore who’d played four minutes in the first half with one foul to show for it. Eighteen seconds after coming into the game in the third quarter, Vranes passed her the ball on the wing and the sophomore let fly.

Nothing but net!

The stunning hoop started a run that completely flipped the momentum of the game, one that South Albany could never get back. Lydia Traore and Sam Gish also made massive plays at the end of the third for Crater, whose five point lead after three grew to as much as eight but was pared to as few as three in the marathon fourth quarter, which saw three players foul out, including Sage Winslow after a 23-point, four-steal night.

Crater, which presses the entire game and plays with an intensity and frenzy unmatched at this level in Oregon, did what it does to start the semifinal, and forced nine South Albany turnovers in the first four minutes while taking a 9-0 lead.

South Albany calmed itself and got within 11-7 at the end of one, then won the second quarter when Donaldson, the 21-point per game scorer who was scoreless after one; scored 12 in the second, including two deep, deep threes, as the RedHawks proceeded to knot the game at 23-all at the half.

Traore’s first points of the game, a stick back, have Crater the lead to start the second half. After a South Albany turnover, Gish made another huge play for the Comets, drilling the team's first long-range shot of the night to make the Comets' lead five, 28-23. That’s when South Albany went on that run to take its first lead of the game and set up that fateful sequence that ended up deciding which team would prevail.

Donaldson, who matched Sage Winslow’s total with 23 points, followed Maddie Angel’s two free throws with a hoop early in the fourth quarter to cut Crater’s lead, which was 41-36 after three, to 43-40. Crater scored the next five points, however, all on free throws after having gone 3-for-10 from the line to that point, to take an eight-point lead.

The final three plus minutes took forever, as Crater looked for a knockout punch and South Albany looked for anything to change its fortunes. Neither occurred. South Albany’s effort was valiant but Crater made just enough plays, and shot just well enough from the free throw line – 11 of its last 15 -- to advance.