Woodburn Battles Wilsonville In WIT Final Sunday

By Jeremy McDonald


WILSONVILLE, Ore.–  Woodburn rose to the occasion coming out of the gate of the 2022-23 season by reaching the Championship Game in the highly competitive Wilsonville Invitational Tournament Sunday evening.  The Bulldogs took down Hood River Valley and Bend, the latter being sixth-ranked in the first coaches polls last week, to set up a bout with the defending 5A State Champions in Wilsonville.

It was a good tournament to see where they were at as a program as they make the move back to 5A this season.  The Lava Bears on Saturday was a good test as Cruz Veliz hit the game-winning shot, but the Wildcats were the true test.

And did Woodburn step their game up, leading briefly in the start before Wilsonville went on an early 14-2 run to lead 16-7 in the first quarter.  But instead of fading into the abyss, the Bulldogs found a way to get back into this game, getting the deficit back to 16-11 in the second quarter.

The Wildcats pushed their lead to 20-11 in the frame, before the Bulldogs pulled the game back to three in the opening seconds of the second half.  Making it a 25-22 game, and speaking volumes of the fight in the Woodburn squad going into the season.

“Without a doubt we played hard all the way and we showed heart from the first minute until the last minute.  Each game we played with our heart out, no matter what the result is, we continue to get better.  We’re going to show out and we’re going to do our thing from there,” Tony Carrasquillo said. “Just having our team united throughout.  We’re  a team where we are a whole.  We’re not individuals and we’re a whole, continuing that legacy and chemistry I think will get us through the tough times.”

Woodburn opened the season 2-1 following their WIT Runner-Up Appearance Sunday (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

The team unity has helped develop the Bulldog program into one where they’ll support each other.  Win or lose, the best of times and even the worst of times, they’re brothers and they take it in as such.  And that showed as Woodburn forced Wilsonville’s hand in the third quarter to find that extra gear in the Championship game on this day.

“We all don’t see each other as teammates, we see each other as brothers.  If one of our teammates is not doing it right, we’re ‘hey it’s ok, we’re good.  We’re good  We’ll keep going’ and we try to keep our team spirit up throughout the whole game, even when we’re down, we’re going to keep going and keep going until the last buzzer,” Esai Carraquillo describes.

And though the Wildcats found that gear as they began to pull away leading 38-26 going into the fourth quarter in Wilsonville’s 50-34 victory, creating opportunities off of Woodburn’s mistakes, it did show that Woodburn is ready for the challenges ahead of them in their return to 5A

“We showed that Woodburn is a top team and we can compete with these better guys coming from 4A.  With 5A guys, we’re hanging with them,”  said Esai Carrasquillo.

Esai Carraquillo had eight points while Tony Carrasquilllo and Spencer Karsseboom had six points in the defeat Sunday as the Bulldogs host Sandy on Thursday for their home opener before opening Mid-Willamette Conference play on December 13 at Silverton.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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