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Count the Cavs out at your own peril

They plan on shocking a few more opponents and earning a trip to the Rose Garden


by: JOHN DENNY - Clackamas juniors (from left) Kaitlyn Reiner, Erica Pagano and Sydney Azorr believe that the Cavaliers have the horses to give Oregon City and West Linn a run for their money in the Three Rivers League girls basketball title-chase this winter.Clackamas High School’s girls basketball team has lost two of its top players from last year, but the Cavaliers still plan to figure in the mix in the Three Rivers League girls basketball title chase this fall.

“I think we’ll be just as good [as last year], if not better,” said Clackamas junior Kaitlyn Reiner. “We’re still really fast. We work hard, we’re learning to play together, and we’re getting better every day.”

The Cavaliers are without two starters from last year’s team that lost to Southridge in the round of 16 of the Class 6A state playoffs. Shelby Vasconcellos-Mattocks, a 6-0 first-team all-league post, has elected not to play basketball; and Natasha Rowland, a 5-10 second-team all-league post, has graduated. Vasconcellos-Mattocks was the Cavaliers’ leading scorer and rebounder last season, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds.

“Shelby’s decided to concentrate on volleyball and play club volleyball [instead of basketball],” Clackamas coach Todd Lane said.

Clackamas junior Sydney Azorr said, “I don’t think [the absence of Vasconcellos-Mattocks] will affect us that much. We can find ways to compensate [for her absence], if we play fast and run.”

Oregon Class 6A coaches expect the Cavaliers to be competitive. Clackamas was ranked seventh in last week’s coaches poll, and the Cavaliers began this week ranked tenth in the OSAA power rankings.

West Linn coach Glen Lee, whose Lions last year placed fifth at state, says: “Oregon City is hands down the team to beat [in the TRL], with a good portion of their roster returning. And I believe that Clackamas is close behind OC.

“Clackamas also has a good contingent of players returning. Coach [Todd] Lane is a great coach and he’ll have them dialed in. He’s got a pretty athletic freshman post coming in that will be a nice replacement for Shelby.”

Peyton Carroll, a 6-2 freshman, scored eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, and she hauled down five rebounds, as the Cavaliers thumped Barlow 58-33 in a Dec. 4 preseason game with the Bruins. And she held her own on the backboards, claiming seven rebounds, in a 59-43 win at Tualatin last Thursday.

The Cavaliers are off to a 3-0 start this season, with convincing wins over the Bruins, the Timberwolves and Hermiston (48-30).

“Offensively, it’s more of a team game for us this year,” Lane said. “We don’t have that go-to player. We’re getting contributions from a lot of people....

“Defensively, I think we’re better than last year. We’re longer, and we’re just as athletic.”

Lane has been going with a starting lineup of: senior Deeshyra Thomas (5-7 wing); juniors Reiner (5-5 point guard), Sydney Azorr (5-10 wing) and Erica Pagano (6-0 wing/post); and sophomore Caroline Combs (5-10 post/wing).

A four-year starter who was a second-team all-league selection last season, Thomas has signed with Weber State of the Big Sky Conference.

Reiner and Azorr received honorable mention in last year’s all-league balloting.

Thomas led the way, with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, in this year’s preseason win at Hermiston. Senior Vanessa Oakden (5-7 wing) scored 9 points, hitting 3-for-4 three-pointers in that game. Thomas had seven steals.

“We played really good defense [at Hermiston],” Lane said. “We had 20 steals and Hermiston was only 4-of-20 from the field.”

Led by Azorr (14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals), the Cavaliers had nine different players score points in the Barlow game. The Bruins were a lukewarm 11-of-36 from the field, while the Cavaliers cashed in on 22-of-41 field goal attempts. Thomas sat out much of that game in foul trouble.

After a slow start, the Cavaliers upped their intensity on defense in the second half to pull away from Tualatin. Clackamas trailed 9-0 at the start of the game and the contest was tied at 27-27 at halftime. Thomas scored a game-high 14 points, hitting 8-of-10 free throws.

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are: senior letterman Hannah Stultz (5-7 wing); sophomores Erin McDonald (5-8 point guard), Kharis Wayland (5-7 point guard), Mckenzie Giancola (5-8 wing), Jordan Rasberry (5-11 post) and Cassie Haehlen (5-10 wing); and freshman Angela Arrington (5-11 post).

Last year’s Cavalier freshmen team had over 20 wins and only three losses, Lane noted.

Haehlen will be out of action until mid-January, recuperating from a broken toe — from soccer.

“Oregon City will be a step ahead of everybody else [in the Three Rivers League],” Lane said. “They have a lot of experience coming back and a lot of seniors. And West Linn will be right up there.... But I think when we play to our capability, we can be as good as anybody.”

Asked if she believes the Cavaliers will contend for the TRL title this season, Reiner said: “Most definitely. I think people underestimate us. We’ve already shocked a few teams....”

“We’re young, but I think we’ll surprise some people,” Pagano said.

“I think if we keep working hard in practice, we have the determination to get wherever we want to go,” Reiner said. “And that’s the Rose Garden.”

The Cavaliers will get an idea of where they stand tonight, when they play a home game with Southridge. They vie at Tigard next Tuesday.

Southridge got blown out by Oregon City 79-38 last Friday.

Clackamas begins league play on Jan. 11, when the Cavaliers entertain West Linn.