Summit coach Jon Frazier with the seniors he's been on a titile hunt with for four years, including finals hero Mac Bledsoe (1)
Summit coach Jon Frazier with the seniors he's been on a titile hunt with for four years, including finals hero Mac Bledsoe (1)

MCMINNVILLE – Wilsonville star Kallen Gutridge sank two free throws to tie up top-seeded Summit at 50-50 with four seconds left Saturday afternoon in the championship game at the 2024 OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A Boys Basketball State Championships at Linfield University.

That set the stage for an extraordinary finish to an extraordinary game between a Summit team playing in its third straight state final yet still seeking its first-ever state title and the two-time defending champion Wilsonville Wildcats, playing for their sixth title over the past eight years.

Collin Moore was set to inbound the ball for Summit just outside the team bench with 1.3 seconds remaining. The Storm had a set play drawn up, but noticed that Wilsonville didn’t have eyes on high-rising senior Mac Bledsoe.

“I knew the way the defender’s head was turned -- and Mac’s a leaper – that he wasn’t going to able to jump with Mac if he puts the ball up by the rim,” explained Storm coach Jon Frazier. “I said, ‘Hey Collin! Throw it up to Mac.’ I pointed up to Mac. That wasn’t something we’d ever practiced before but our kids were smart enough to recognize the opportunity and adjust on the fly. It’s fun to have great athletes who can make plays for you at the end.”

Moore’s inbounds pass was perfect. The timing was perfect. The finish was perfect.

“Last minute coach points at the rim,” Bledsoe said. “Me and Collin make eyes. He threw that thing up. I finished it that’s all it was.”

The ball went through the basket as time expired, with Bledsoe falling hard to the court knowing the entire journey to the hardwood that he’d made his Summit team a first-time state champion.

“I feel incredible,” Bledsoe said. “Nothing like it!”

And the fall?

“Didn’t feel it at all; doesn’t matter. This is everything we’ve worked for since sixth grade. To have it now is a dream come true.”

“We saw all the heads turning,” Pearson Carmichael said. “We knew the back door lob was there and trust Mac with everything.”

“Frazier just said throw it and I saw Mac,” Moore said. “And he got it. It was crazy. Time stopped.”

The heart-stopping final play happened after confusion ensued following Gutridge’s second free throw. Summit took the ball out of the net with four seconds to play and Moore, the Storm’s athletic, speedy point guard raced the ball up court. The game clock apparently did not start until Moore was already in the scoring zone at the top of the key.

The officials whistled play dead with 2.3 seconds showing on the clock and conferred. Wilsonville coach Chris Roche advocated for returning the ball back to the baseline and resuming play with four seconds to go. The refs instead gave Summit the ball just outside their bench and shaved another second off the clock, not a lot of time for a set play but plenty for a lob to the rim.

Summit’s win avenged a 43-37 loss to Wilsonville in last year’s 5A final. The Storm also lost in the 6A championship game in 2022. For the eight seniors on the team, which grew up together and has been playing, and winning, since the fourth grade, this was the last shot to finish with a flourish. And what a flourish it was! Something they will always remember.

“Third time’s a charm,” Moore said. “It doesn’t feel real right now. I love these guys. We’ve been playing together since fourth grade. It’s sad to think that it’s over, but we did it.”

“It means everything,” Carmichael added. “It’s been our dream since we were young. The fact that we accomplished it…I am just speechless.”

“To be able to go through this journey with these guys over the last four years is just a dream,” Frazier said.

The Summit buzzer beater ended an exceptionally-played game between two championship teams; teams that were evenly matched on the court and gave the fans a show from the opening tip with both their skill and intensity.

“I thought we competed for sure,” Roche said about his Wilsonville team. “Summit is a tremendous team. I don’t think many people thought we could beat them. We were right there to do that. We didn’t get it done but I’m so proud of those kids. We have no regrets about the effort today. The effort was outstanding. It was a fantastic game. Summit played great and we went toe to toe with them. At the end of the day, they got two more points.”

For the past two years, Wilsonville has painted itself as the underdog in the battle with Summit. But here’s a secret: the players ALWAYS fully expect to be champions even while praising their opponent’s superiority.

So it came as no surprise to those who have seen Wilsonville play that the Wildcats led by five points after both the first quarter and at halftime. The Wildcats were the more physical team and imposed their will inside with big-bodied efforts from Emmit Fee (the “Big Feezy?”) and Kyle Counts

Counts, especially, was mesmerizing for Wilsonville. He scored 14 first-half points, including a long three pointer at the first-quarter buzzer. Counts scored on rugged plays inside, hit from long range as well and had three assists.

Carmichael was the show for Summit over the first 16 minutes. He scored 17 of his team’s 26 points, but the Storm got only one field goal from the rest of the team. Fortunately, they hit 7-of-8 free throws, else the halftime deficit might have been much larger.

Gutridge, Wilsonville’s leading scorer, recorded nine point and three assists in the first half. He and Carmichael started the game like it might be a personal duel between the two players, with each scoring in close and on long-range threes in the first two and one-half minutes of a 5-5 game.

Wilsonville's largest lead of the game, seven points, came when Gutridge stole the inbounds pass to start the second half and Fee followed up with the bucket. Summit hung in but never led in the period. Moore scored twice in succession from in close. He was fouled on the second one with 3:40 to play and had a free throw to finally get Summit all square, but missed after being 6-for-6 in the first half.

It was a two-point game favoring Wilsonville entering the fourth. The outcome hung in the balance and both teams played with urgency. One characteristic of the final period was that Summit became the more physical team after taking a pounding from Wilsonville inside for most of the game.

“They were very good inside,” Roche said. “They were just tough to guard. A lot of athletes out there. You end up on an island sometimes. It’s a tough matchup.”

“One of the things we’ve seen all year is we’re a second-half team,” Frazier said. “We’ve always gone on runs late. Our mantra during every time out was, ‘They’re tired. We’re good. Let’s go!’ We were trying to instill in our kids that we had another gear to go to.”

Summit finally caught Wilsonville at 44-all on a Carmichael layup with less than five minutes to play. It capped a sequence that saw the Storm try three shots in the paint, and rebound two, before finally putting the ball in the goal.

Wilsonville, still fighting, re-took the lead on a Counts pull up jumper. Pax Kettering, a great athlete who had not been aggressive all game, attacked in the lane and finished to knot the score once more. After a Wilsonville turnover, Summit had a chance to take its first lead since the first quarter and did so, courtesy of Moore, whose rebound and stick back put the Storm up two with 3:18 to play for the title.

A team that’s won five state titles over the previous seven seasons isn’t going to go away easily. It was no surprise then that Gutridge, the 5A Football Player of the Year for the state champion Wildcats, tickled the twine with a turnaround jumper with 2:50 to play.

Summit (24-4) turned to Carmichael, the state’s leading scorer, to answer and he did, muscling inside for two and the chance to hit the “and 1” to make it a three-point game. The free throw did not fall – Summit was just 2-of-5 from the stripe in the second half – and it was a two-point game heading to the final minute.

Both teams missed contested shots in the end game and Wilsonville (25-4) regained possession with 10.8 seconds remaining. The ball went into Gutridge, who moved up court deliberately.

Frazier said the plan was not to let Gutridge beat his team, but the Summit defense got a little too aggressive and fouled him while in the bonus with four seconds to play.

Gutridge, the clutch performer, of course made both of the free throws to set up the unforgettable finish to an unforgettable game.

“Down the stretch that was just a slugfest both ways,” Frazier observed. “Each team made huge plays, It could have gone either way. We feel fortunate that we got that last possession with a chance to win it.”

“I’m so proud of our team for battling back,” Moore said. “We were down five at the half. It was an amazing battle between Wilsonville and us. I’m just happy we came out on top.”

Carmichael finished with a game-high 27 points for Summit. Moore added 12 and Bledsoe added 10.

“They had momentum the whole game,” Carmichael said. “The fact that we came out with the win just shows how much heart our team has.”

Counts had a monster game for Wilsonville, finishing with 20 points and four assists. The senior has been battling injuries his entire career, but put together a state tournament to be proud of.

“He is a tremendously skilled guy,” Roche said. “He fought so hard. Back to back right now is super hard for him to do. But he showed up and was amazing today.”

Gutridge finished with 16 and four assists and Fee showed up in a big way with eight points, nine rebounds and two assists.

“Our kids competed so hard,” Roche said. “We did everything but get it done.”

In the boys 3rd/5th game…

No. 4 Woodburn 67, No. 6 Putnam 37

Woodburn clinched its best finish since 1995 by building a massive lead through three quarters, fueled by a punishing 1-2-2 zone defense and high-efficiency offense keyed by point guard Cruz Veliz and center Liam Slattum.

Slattum, a skilled and versatile 6-9 senior, set the tone for the Bulldogs with a massive first quarter, which included nine points, four rebounds, two blocks and an assist.

Woodburn extended its lead to 18 at intermission by yielding just one basket in the second while scoring inside with Brody Hawley and outside with Dylon Renteria.

The game became a blowout in the third. Putnam put on the pressure to start the second half and it worked initially, as the Kingsmen cut seven points off of Woodburn’s robust lead. A bucket from Anthony Figueredo, using the euro step to get to the cup, got Woodburn back on track and the Bulldogs began dissecting Putnam’s pressure for easy buckets, including Slattum’s thunderous jam off of a nifty Veliz pass. Veliz scored nine in the period, including two long threes and a traditional “and one” for Woodburn, which took a 29-point lead to the final period.

Brooklynd Latta had a terrific game for Putnam, scoring 19 on 8-of-14 shooting, but the rest of the team shot just 21 percent for the game.

Veliz and Slattum combined for 33 points to lead Woodburn, which shot 60 percent from the field for the game. Veliz added five assists and five steals, and Slattum had to boards for the Bulldogs, who also put Hawley and Figueredo in double figures scoring wise.

In the boys 4th/6th game…

No. 5 West Albany 72, No. 7 Redmond 39

West Albany outscored Redmond in every quarter to earn the decisive win. Brysen Kachel had a massive day for the victorious Bulldogs, scoring 25 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists. Teammate Gavin Aguilar added 14 points, four rebounds, four steals and four assists.

Ian Pearson scored 22 and Wyatt Horner tossed in 13 for Redmond, which had just three players score in the game. The Panthers committed more than twice as many turnovers as West Albany and shot just 18 percent from beyond the three-point line.

Team Sportsmanship Award: Mountain View

All-Tournament Second Team

Tyler Adams, Putnam

Lennon Greenleaf, Putnam

Jack Snyder, Redmond

Liam Slattum, Woodburn

Collin Moore, Summit

All-Tournament First Team

Pearson Carmichael, Summit

Kallen Gutridge, Wilsonville

Kyle Counts, Wilsonville

Brysen Kachel, West Albany

Cruz Veliz, Woodburn

Before the third-place game…

Parkrose pulled away in the third quarter to defeat North Umpqua, 67-49, in the championship game of the Unified Sports State Championship game. This was a rematch of last year’s final, won by North Umpqua. North Umpqua is comprised of players from Yoncalla and Elkton high schools.

Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities with partner athletes as teammates for training and competition.