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Wilsonville senior Zach Reichle caps the most accomplished career in school history

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Wilsonville senior Zach Reichle drives baseline during the state title game against Churchill.

After Wilsonville senior wing Zach Reichle sunk the biggest shot of the state title game, a 3-pointer well behind the 3-point-line in the fourth quarter, he directed his attention to some of the legends of the Wilsonville boys basketball program's past.

The likes of 2016 5A State Champions Tyler Hieb and Dylan Jordan, former Oregon State basketball player Dylan Livesay, former Rice University player Seth Gearhart and others occupied seats at center court for the Wildcats' ultimate showdown and erupted into hysteria once Reichle's shot swished nylon.

Feeling pumped up, Reichle waltzed over to the cohort's section and yelled "Let's Go" with his eyes lasered at them.

The shot marked one of the final notable moments of Wilsonville's second consecutive state title win and Reichle's exemplary career.

The question though is: Did Reichle surpass the onlookers at Gill Coliseum Friday and other Wilsonville greats and become the greatest player in program history?

The question, befitting of a sports talk show, is clearly subjective, as Reichle notes.

"That's an opinion thing. If you think it, great. If not, oh well. I'm just gonna keep working. I didn't come in here and think 'Oh, I'm going to be the best player in program history.' I just wanted to be the best player I could possibly be for myself so that's just how I went about it," he said. "I don't really know how to describe my legacy. I came into this program, gave them everything I've got and my best effort, my competitiveness. Everything I had in the tank I gave to this program."

Still, Reichle's list of accolades is hard to top.

The Wilsonville senior boasts two state championships, three state title game appearances, one (for now) State Player of the Year award, two Northwest Oregon Conference Player of the Year awards, three all-state Tournament team selections and four state tournament appearances.

Hieb, who played with Reichle for three years and won a state championship with him in 2016, believes Reichle is the program's greatest player ever.

"I think if you go by all the accolades, where he's going, you have to give it to Zach Reichle. He's not just a scorer, he's a distributor, a great teammate," Hieb said. "Even if Seth (Gearhart) might get mad at me for saying this, I have to give it to Zach."

Reichle's current teammates agree.

"(There's) no doubt in my mind," Wilsonville sophomore guard Jack Roche said. "I know there is a lot of great players and I haven't played with all of them but he's amazing. Nobody else won two state championships here and he's won two."

"There's been some tremendous players. Seth Gearhart, Michael MacKelvie and Kevin Marshall but the best I've seen is Zach. He's put in so much time. He works so hard. He's so passionate about the game and I love that about him," fellow senior Harrison Steiger said.

Wilsonville head coach Chris Roche won't say who he thinks the greatest player in program history is but says Reichle and Steiger have accomplished the most of any Wilsonville players.

"I love Jeremy Wilson. I love Seth Gearhart. We've had so many great players. I don't want to disrespect them. Nobody accomplished more than Zach. And Harrison (Steiger) as well. They did it together," he said.

Hieb says some might argue that Gearhart is in fact the program's greatest player of all time.

Gearhart, who went on to play at Rice, did not win a state title but he did win the NWOC Player of the Year award in 2011 and was named to the All-State Tournament First Team that year as well while Wilsonville placed third in state. Wilsonville lost in the semifinals of the state tournament that year in overtime to Corvallis and also placed in the top four in state in Gearhart's sophomore and junior seasons. As for total high school wins, Gearhart edges out Reichle and Steiger by a single win (97 to 96) for second place all-time while Marshall ranks first all-time with 101 wins.

Gearhart also may have boosted his resume after high school by forging a nice career at Rice University.

He enjoyed seeing Reichle drain the climactic three and holler in their direction.

"We were going pretty crazy when he hit the three and then he got the foul called. It was kind of one of those goose bumps moments. We were yelling back at him. It was cool to be with former players and teammates and have Zach yelling at us. It was a cool moment. And that was a big play," Gearhart said.

Gearhart notes that, like debating between LeBron James and Michael Jordan or other current and former NBA players, differing circumstances complicate the question.

Still, along with Reichle's unquestionably superior accolades, Gearhart says Reichle is more skilled now than he was during his senior season.

"There's no doubt Zach is further along and more skilled then at that point in my career. It shows on the court. He's a great player. To win back-to-back state titles shows how good he really is," Gearhart said. "We never got it done and they got it down twice in a row. You really can't take that away from them."

Gearhart, who coached a Wilsonville seventh-grade team this year, plans to help out at the high school level more next year while Steiger will join Hieb as part of the Oregon Tech program next year. Hieb convinced his Oregon Tech basketball coach to fly back from Missouri a few days early from the NAIA National Championships so that he could witness the Wildcats state title game. He returned home at 3:30 p.m. Friday, dropped off his bag and headed for Corvallis.

And Reichle describes Hieb, Jordan and the 2016 graduates as the older brothers he never had.

"They are great guys. Obviously I miss those guys a lot. It was different for me and H (Steiger) after playing with those guys for three straight years. I didn't have a big brother so I saw those guys as my big brothers for three years straight. It was awesome to have their support," he said.

Regardless of who had the best career or who was the most talented player, the threads that bind past and present Wilsonville players supersede their individual distinctions.

"Wilsonville is a brotherhood," Hieb said.

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