The ShoWare Center hasn’t been kind to the Wilson High School boys basketball team.
It didn’t help that the Rams were up against Payton Pritchard and the top-ranked team from Oregon on Monday.
In Wilson’s three losses, two have come at the ShoWare Center this season, with West Linn of Oregon leaving Kent with a 64-45 victory over Rams in the afternoon game of this year’s King Showcase.
“We just aren’t moving the ball fast enough,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “We got kids who want to go east-west with the dribble and it’s pointless basketball.”
Wilson (11-3) lost to unbeaten Peninsula at the ShoWare Center on Dec. 19, then lost to Lincoln at home Jan. 6 before the loss to West Linn (10-3), the defending Class 6A Oregon state champion and current No. 1-ranked team in Oregon by MaxPreps.
The recurring theme in those three losses: Wilson’s poor shooting percentage and lack of points in the paint.
David Jenkins, Jr. scored a game-high 23 points for the Rams. But as a team, Wilson made 17 of 48 shots (35.4 percent) for the game, while the Lions made 25 of 51 (49 percent).
Pritchard — a University of Oregon commit who is one of the top-50 seniors in the nation according to multiple scouting services — had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. His play in the second half helped put the Rams away.
“We had to get used to the 3-point line (with one painted at NBA range at the ShoWare Center),” Pritchard said. “We had to scoot in. And we started getting in transition and getting better shots.”
Jenkins hit Emmitt Matthews, Jr. for an alley-oop layup off Montre Brown-Lofton’s block to start the second quarter. Matthews then drilled a 3-pointer on Wilson’s next possession to give the Rams a 22-21 lead.
But West Linn responded with a 20-7 run to end the quarter.
The Rams tried to keep within striking distance in the second half, but while they were trying to keep Pritchard out of the game with a mix of zone defenses, the point guard was setting up teammates for open looks.
Pritchard’s pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key near the start of the fourth quarter was the finishing blow. That put up, 48-33. He followed the next possession with another basket to extend West Linn’s lead to 50-33.
“That’s just Payton right there,” Lions coach Eric Viuhkola said. “And he didn’t shoot the ball like he normally does. I mean, he’s (Stephen) Curry shooting the ball, and he’s unselfish and he’s a winner. And I’ve had four years of it, so I’m used to it.”
West Linn switched to a zone defense in the second half with the intent on keeping Jenkins in check. Something it learned from playing Wilson during summer leagues
“I thought he was a really good player,” Viuhkola said. “And (Alwert) always has his kids playing hard. I just think our length bothered them a little bit.”
Wilson played one game at the ShoWare Center last year — a 74-36 loss to Bellevue.
“When we’re playing tough ball, we’re playing our best ball,” Jenkins said. “When we let teams bully us and outwork us is when we aren’t. I feel like the trend I’m seeing right now is when teams are playing harder than us, we’re losing games.
“We got to find it within ourselves to have more heart. Once we do that, we’ll be good.”