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‘It’s a great feeling to always be remembered at Tualatin High School.’ Tualatin seniors go out on top, achieve immortality in Timberwolves lore

“From our first practice, from our first moment together, we knew we could do this. ... We’ve been waiting on this day for a real long time, and it’s happened.”
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By Dan Brood | Photos by Ken Waz 

The celebration was wild. 

It was loud. 

It was a long time coming.

For the Tualatin boys basketball team, the accomplishment was unprecedented.

For the first time in school history, the Timberwolves are Class 6A state champions. They earned that honor with an impressive 66-49 win over previously unbeaten Summit in the Class 6A state championship game, played Saturday at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center. 

As Tualatin players, one by one, went up the ladder to cut a strand of the net hanging off the basket at the Chiles Center, there were plenty of smiles to be seen.

But maybe the biggest smiles belonged to five certain players – the seniors on the Tualatin squad. 

Those five seniors – Peter Burke, Kellen Hale, Noah Ogoli, Ashton Rose and Malik Ross – have been part of the Tualatin program, and they’ve been together, for a long time.

They’ve been ready, and waiting, to celebrate. That holds especially true for four of those seniors — Burke, Hale, Ogoli and Ross — who were part of the Tualatin football team that reached the Class 6A state championship game this past fall, before falling just short of winning the crown, losing to Central Catholic in the title tilt

“Oh man, it’s big,” Burke, a senior post, said during Saturday’s victory celebration. “Coming up a little short in football, bouncing back and getting this means a lot. It’s awesome. It’s what we dream of.”

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“Oh, this means so much,” Hale said. “This group of guys, I’ve been playing with for so long, ever since I started playing sports. To get this, after losing the football championship, feels great, and it’s kind of a relief for us. Because when we lost that championship, that was weighing on us this whole season. That was our motivation all season, from the start – and we got our goal.” 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Ross said. “From our first practice, from our first moment together, we knew we could do this. To be honest, we’re not surprised. We’ve been waiting on this day for a real long time, and it’s happened.” 

“It’s amazing,” Ogoli said. “It’s a great feeling to always be remembered at Tualatin High School.” 

Rose, a 6-foot-7 post, was the only senior who didn’t also play football. But he, too, was overcome with emotion during the postgame celebration. 

“It’s everything, it’s amazing. I can’t even describe it,” Rose said with a big smile on his face. “This is wild. We’ve really been wanting to do this since freshman year. I’m at a loss for words.” 

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While the moment was special for the Tualatin seniors, it didn’t come without a lot of hard work – and it was also many years in the making.

“I’ve been with these guys since fifth grade,” Ogoli said. “We have pictures from back in the day, of us playing in fifth grade playing basketball together. Everyone has grown a lot, and we’ve always had the chemistry, both on and off the court. That helped a lot.” 

“We’re real close,” Burke said. “We’ve all been playing Tualatin basketball together since fourth or fifth grade. Everything is chemistry, so it’s all easy.”

“I’ve known all of these guys for so long, and this is super special,” Hale said.

“It’s amazing. It’s a great group of guys, and I’ve been with them since fifth grade,” Ross said. “Fast forward to now, it’s crazy that our dreams have turned into reality.”

It was when the seniors entered Tualatin High School that the thought that they could do big things – really big things – began to take shape. 

“This group of guys, especially the seniors, we invested in them since the first day they walked in the door,” Tualatin assistant coach Brandon Lemon said. “We knew that they were special, and that they were going to do big things here.” 

“We knew that, especially this year, that this was attainable,” Rose said.

“This has been a goal since freshman year,” Burke said. “Once we got together, playing together, we knew in our senior year, we could be something special. This is what we wanted to do, and we made it happen.” 

Burke, Ogoli and Ross were full-time varsity players as sophomores for the Tualatin team that went 13-12, losing at Mountainside in the first round of the state playoffs. 

Hale and Rose also were full-time varsity players during the group’s junior year. Of course, that was a shortened, revised season, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That Timberwolves squad when 11-5 in the abbreviated campaign. 

This year, however, nothing was going to stop the Timberwolves – the seniors helped make sure of that. 

“They meant a ton,” Tualatin head coach Todd Jukkala said of the seniors. “Their leadership was crucial, so was their competitiveness. They set the tone, every day in practice, every day, every week, every game, they got better and better. They just all, in different ways, stepped up and made a difference to the season, and how we were ultimately able to be successful.” 

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And, wow, were the Timberwolves ever successful.

In the 2021-22 season, Tualatin went 21-2 in regular-season play, helping the Timberwolves take the No. 1 seed to postseason play. Tualatin then got state playoff wins over Roseburg and Three Rivers League rival Lake Oswego to earn its state tournament bid

In the tournament, Tualatin ran to a 54-43 quarterfinal win over Beaverton and followed with a 56-49 victory over West Linn, another TRL foe, in the semifinals. That put the Timberwolves in the state championship game for the first time since 2020, where they faced unbeaten Summit. 

Tualatin was determined not to be denied of a championship again – the seniors helped make sure of that. 

Ogoli, a second-team all-state tournament pick, had a huge performance in the title game, scoring a game-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. Ross, a unanimous first-team all-tournament selection, had 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal. Burke had 12 points and five rebounds, in addition to playing tough defense on Summit standout Caden Harris. Hale and Rose also contributed to the title-game victory.

It all led to the long-awaited state championship trophy presentation, and the cutting down of the net

“This was so much fun. It’s awesome,” Burke said. “It’s special, a special group. I mean, getting to the state championship in not only basketball, but football, and winning this, is special. This is a real athletic group, and we’ve been together for a long time, so the chemistry is there. We’re best friends. This is a great group.”

“It’s unreal,” Rose said. “We’re definitely close. It’s fun that we’ve been together since middle school, and now do something like this.” 

“Just to get this one, after what happened in December with football, means everything,” Ross said. “All of the memories with these guys is going to last forever.” 

“This is the best way to go out,” Hale said with a smile — a championship smile. 

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