In an early-season high school matchup between two of the state’s top shooters, West Salem junior Kyle Greeley held his own against Wilsonville senior Zach Reichle.
No. 5 West Salem defeated defending Class 5A state champion Wilsonville, 63-62 on Thursday in the big-school semifinals of the Capitol City Classic at Willamette University. Greeley and Reichle, the 5A player of the year last season who has signed a national letter of intent with Oregon State, both finished with 19 points.
The Titans trailed by one point in the waning moments, but Greeley was fouled on a drive to the basket with 10 seconds left and calmly sank both free throws, giving West Salem its margin of victory.
It’s no surprise that West Salem would look to its 6-foot-4 wing with the game on the line. After earning second-team all-Greater Valley Conference honors last season in a sixth-man role, Greeley is averaging about 25 points per game in the 2016-17 campaign.
With the departure of five seniors from a West Salem squad that placed third in the GVC and came within one win of advancing to the 6A state tournament , Greeley knew he would need to fill an expanded role. He averaged a team-high 15 points last season.
“I’m a little stronger this year,” said Greeley, who benefited from a summer of AAU ball playing against elite competition.
The fifth-ranked Titans (6-2), who lost 53-50 to Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista, California, on Friday in the championship game of the Capitol City Classic despite 25 points from Greeley, are far from a one-man show. In the win against Wilsonville, junior Zac Bulgin scored a game-high 24 points.
Greeley’s presence on the court provides a constant scoring threat.
“Kyle brings that automatic scorer,” Bulgin said. “When we need a bucket, you can always count on Kyle to get us a bucket and he brings a lot of energy too.”
Although Greeley has the bulk of this season and a senior year ahead, he’s already verbally committed to play college basketball at Seattle University of the Western Athletic Conference.
That decision, which Greeley made in September, has helped him focus on the task at hand. He’s excited to play for Seattle coach Cameron Dollar, who was a guard on UCLA’s 1995 national championship team.
“Why wait?” Greeley said of his college decision. “It relieves the pressure of not knowing who you’re playing in front of, that type of thing. To me college is all about fit.”
And it didn’t take long for Greeley to realize that Seattle was the right fit. It was the first scholarship offer he received.
“The coach up there is a great guy and I heard a lot more about family instead of basketball, so it’s a good culture up there too,” Greeley said.
Greeley noted that Seattle’s up-tempo style is similar to what he’s accustomed to at West Salem. The Titans like to get out in transition and Greeley is a strong finisher at the rim, often taking the ball coast to coast after grabbing a defensive rebound.
Play off of Greeley and he’ll hurt opponents with a smooth jumper that is accurate from 3-point range.
“He does everything,” first-year West Salem coach Travis Meyers said. “He can make shots over people. He doesn’t really need a ton of space. What helps his game the most is he can really get by guys off the dribble.”
And find teammates with assists.
Greeley is a big-time scorer, but “when he’s getting a lot of attention he’s gonna find guys,” Meyers said.
What matters most to Greeley is winning the GVC and making an extended postseason run.
West Salem appears to be much improved from last season.
“As far as personal goals, I think those will take care of itself,” Greeley said. “I’m more concerned about the team and how far we go.”
ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6726 or Twitter.com/ghorowitz