The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

A legacy of strength

The 2024 boy’s basketball team fell just short of a fourth state championship in four playoffs, but their impact goes beyond the final score.
After+the+last+home+game+of+the+season%2C+the+team+exited+the+court+in+high+spirits+and+with+high+hopes+looking+ahead+to+the+playoff+rounds.+
Kate Gore
After the last home game of the season, the team exited the court in high spirits and with high hopes looking ahead to the playoff rounds.

On March 9th at 2:47 p.m., the front row of the Wilsonville student section was already filled, with more students filing in by the minute. Clad in black and armed with Dutch Bros rebels and supportive signs, the group massed together in anticipation of the final game of the 2024 basketball season.

In an extremely tense final matchup, the Wilsonville fans kept the energy in the gym high. Whether the team was on offense or defense, there was hype coming from the Sixth Pillar Army. (Kate Gore)

However, one cannot accurately describe the significance of the state championship match without talking about this Wildcat team’s history. The boys’ basketball team has a jaw-dropping history of success at both the conference and state levels. 

An integral part of the Roche playbook is found not on the court but in the time shared between teammates. Over four years, players in the Wilsonville High School program have spent hours perfecting their playbook, and this 2024 group of seniors has arguably some of the tightest connections of any players in the past several years. 

Among the 2024 seniors are Kyle Counts, Nick Colyer, and Kallen Gutridge. These three are affectionately known as Huey, Louie, and Dewey, respectively, by their teammates and the coaching staff due to their antics and brotherly relationship. 

Before the semifinal round, the starting line up sits ready to be announced. (Left to right: Emmitt Fee, Nick Colyer, Kyle Counts, Kallen Gutridge, Jacob Boss) (Kate Gore)

These three have played massive roles in Wilsonville basketball over the last two years, and Gutridge has played significant minutes since his sophomore year. The trio played almost complete or complete games in the last two state championships. 

All three players are committed or likely to play at the collegiate level next year. Gutridge is committed to Oregon State to play football, Colyer is actively talking to college football coaches, and Counts is committed to St. Thomas for basketball. 

The 2024 state championship was set to be a rematch of last year’s game, with a slight change in rosters and venues. Both teams had many returning players and faces dotting the stands. Going into the game, it looked like the star matchup on this team would be seniors Kallen Gutridge and Pearson Carmicheal. 

On the tip off, Counts went up against Carmichael to attempt to gain the first possession. This was a fitting matchup, seeing as the two would go on to be the leading scorers in the title game. (Kate Gore)

Pearson Carmicheal, the 6’7” Boise State commit, was the one to watch for the Storm regarding stats and contributions. Both Gutridge and Carmicheal were prominent in a majority of all-tournament stats, and it was clear from the get-go that these two would be the ones to lead their teams in this final matchup.

In addition to these two, each team brought many experienced players ready to make their mark on the Championship game. Both rosters were filled with juniors in 2023, and now it was this group’s turn to fight for their cities at the top of the competition. 

Wilsonville returned 4/5 starters. They brought up junior Jacob Boss and senior Ezra Carter to fill the last starting position and role of 6th man, respectively. Summit returned 3/5 starting players, bringing up Paxon Kettering and Charlie Crowell to fill out their roster. 

With 15 minutes to the commencement of the game, each team was well into their respective warm-ups while fans packed into the gymnasium. There was a dull hum as the fans sat in anticipation of the action that was to come. 

At the announcement of the players, an ovation was given by all of the Wilsonville attendees. Each player was given a strong welcome to the court and game. (Kate Gore)

At game time, the energy on the Ted Wilson court was electric. When the rosters were announced, the crowd’s cheers echoed through the halls. The atmosphere was much louder and more intense than that of previous years at Gill Coliseum. 

After 16 minutes of intense back-and-forth action, the score at halftime was 36-31 in favor of the Wildcats. Despite the tightness of the score, the player stats pointed to two different playing styles. 

For the Wildcats, there was a wide spread of scorers in the first half, with nine by Gutridge, four by Fee, four by Boss, and 14 by Counts. On the Storm’s stat sheet, there were only three scorers: two by Mac Bledsoe, six by Moore, and 17 by Carmicheal. 

This pattern of a spread-out score sheet for the Wildcats and more concentrated on the Storm continued for the rest of the game. With his confident mannerisms on the court, Carmichael carried the team offensively and kept the Summit team and crowd morale high. 

Counts shoots for three early in the second quarter. He would go on to be the number one scorer for Wilsonville in the Championship game. (Kate Gore)

Ultimately, this game came down to the final five seconds of playable time. The score was 48-50, and Gutridge was fouled and sent to the line in double bonus for the fourth quarter.

With insane grace under pressure, Gutridge could not be iced. He nailed both of his shots to tie the game with just about 4.7 seconds left. 

This is where the game’s story gets controversial. Summit was due to run a scramble play in a last-ditch effort to take down the Wildcats in this rematch. 

However, while the team was tearing down the court, a whistle pierced the gym, and angry fans yelled and jeered from all sides. The timekeeper failed to start the shot clock until the Summit player crossed half-court, leading to the play being blown dead. 

Wilsonville players (left to right) Emmitt Fee, Nick Colyer, and Jacob Boss guard their respective players early in the first quarter as Collin Moore brings the ball up the court. (Kate Gore)

The gaffe was an egregious blunder for an official to make in a Championship game. There has been no precedent set for handling a situation like this in such a weight-bearing moment. 

The on-court referees huddled up to discuss the next move to make as both Summit’s and Wilsonville’s fans, players, and coaching staff raged against this awful situation. Ultimately, the referees decided to give Summit the ball back where the play had been blown dead at half court and estimated that there were roughly 1.3 seconds left in the game.

There was considerable back-and-forth between the coaches and the referees over this call, which allowed the Summit coach to talk to the players on the court and the player inbounding the ball. Most predicted that the player who would receive the ball was Carmicheal, who would take a frantic last-minute shot for the win.

This was not what happened. The player inbounding the ball lobbed the ball in the air to Bledsoe, who bull-rushed underneath the net and quickly tapped the ball in to take the final shot. The clock ran out its final time, and the Summit team and fans stormed the court in a flurry of white to celebrate their victory. 

Gutridge received the honor of first-team all tournament. His name can be found all over the all-tournament stat sheets and was clearly one of the top players in the gym for every matchup. (Kate Gore)

Not a single fan would contradict the fact that Bledsoe had made a great play. The athleticism and talent necessary to make that set of actions work was clear. However, if the game had ended in the natural course, it should not have happened at all.

The Wildcat fans stood in shock. The team had lost its first championship since 2018, and worse, in their last seconds of play for the 2024 season, forces outside of their control led to the crushing final blow. 

The reffing mistake was, to put it plainly, dumb. It should not have happened. However, it should not diminish the legacy left by the class of 2024. Three state championship visits in three consecutive years is an incredible statistic, and it is not even brushing the surface of the boy’s basketball program’s success.

Under Coach Roche, the team has gone to eight straight state championship matchups. That number is insane. Furthermore, the team won 5/8 of those games and have banners upon banners to prove it.

In addition to receiving Player of the Game in the Championship matchup, Counts also made first team all tournament. Counts played an extremely tight game in the final and made a clutch three-point buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter. (Kate Gore)

In the post-covid era, the team’s success did not dwindle. The team has gone 72-13 over the last three years, with those losses being to top tier teams from not only just Oregon, but from across the country in competitive tournaments. 

In the 2024 season, the team enjoyed an incredible 20 game win streak going into the state final. The team benefitted from experience and leadership from a strong senior class including five seniors and two senior managers as well as a large coaching staff that was dedicated to helping the team and program achieve new heights beyond what any other Oregon team has achieved. 

In summary, the 2024 team was a force to be reckoned with. They were bonded in brotherhood and experience, and they represented their town extremely well at the highest levels of competition. As new players grow and flourish in the Chris Roche program, the team will no doubt continue to improve their craft while putting on a great performance for the state.

 

 

In the penultimate event of the awards ceremony, the Wildcats were presented with a second place plaque to commemorate their eighth straight championship appearance in eight years. (Kate Gore)