Senior guard Brett Udland returns to lead the way

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Clackamas junior Aaron Ahlstrom dishes off to a teammate in the Cavaliers season opener with Hermiston.Clackamas could be a force to contend with in Three Rivers League boys basketball this winter.

The Cavaliers are off to a 4-0 start on the season, with wins over Hermiston (72-68), Tualatin (71-70), David Douglas (93-83) and South Salem (51-49).

Through play Dec. 5, Hermiston was ranked fifth in Class 5A, Tualatin was ranked fifth in 6A and David Douglas was ranked ninth in 6A. The Scots placed sixth at last year’s Class 6A State Tournament. Tualatin and South Salem both made the round of 16 in last year’s state playoffs.

“I feel like we are going to do well this year,” Clackamas team captain Colby Bankofier said. “We’re coming out to win games. We’re getting the ball up and down the floor, we’re playing decent defense, and we’re playing as a team.”

“We don’t really have a starting lineup as such,” said Clackamas first-year head coach Ryan King. “We’re pretty deep. We’ve had a different lineup in every game and we’ve got 10 kids who could start.”

“Everyone’s getting in there and going hard,” Bankofier said. “When guys get tired, we rotate fresh guys in. We’ve got 10 guys who are playing a lot.”

King says his athletes have shown the ability to get up-and-down-the-floor, “but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in terms of our half-court game and our defense. And we’re going to need that half-court game when we get into league.”

The Cavaliers are not short on experience. They’ve got 10 lettermen on their 14-player varsity roster, and 6-0 senior Brett Udland, a player who elected not to play basketball last year, has been their leading scorer.

Udland has averaged 20 points in Clackamas’ first four games, scoring a team-high 16 points in last Friday’s 51-49 win over South Salem, a game-high 22 points in the 71-70 win over Tualatin and a game-high 30 points in the 93-83 win at David Douglas.

“Brett’s a real good skier and snowboarder and he took last year off [from basketball],” Bankofier said. “But he’s played basketball with us for years. We all grew up together. He’s always been a shooter and he’s a hustler. We’re finding him and the shots are going down. It’s great having him back.”

“He’s been doing a good job at the offensive end,” King said of Udland. “He can shoot the three and he’s been scoring lay-ups in transition.”

Returning from last year’s varsity are: seniors Nathan Bobst (6-5 forward) and Colby Bankofier (6-3 guard/forward); and juniors Cade Wilkins (6-1 guard), Taylor Stinson (6-6 post), Cole Scruggs (6-3 guard), Keaton Bankofier (6-6 forward), Aaron Ahlstrom (6-0 guard), Brody Haehlen (6-4 forward), Andrew Gutwig (6-2 guard/forward) and David Reese (6-8 post).

Gutwig and Ahlstrom were among the Three Rivers League’s top scorers last year, averaging 11.5 and 9.9 points respectively.

Wilkins, who started last winter, will ride the bench during the upcoming season, while he recuperates from a football injury.

“He’s like an assistant coach for us,” King said of Wilkins.

Reese will miss the first part of the season while he recuperates from knee surgery.

“We hope to have David back by late January,” King said.

“David will help out a lot [when he comes back],” Bankofier said. “He’ll add height. He’s a good rebounder and he plays real physical. He was a lineman in football, and he’s going to intimidate people.”

Scruggs (15 points), Keaton Bankofier (12 points), Gutwig (12 points) and Bobst (11 points) joined Udland in double figures in scoring in the horserace with David Douglas.

Bobst scored 18 in the narrow win over Tualatin. Stinson was fouled on a putback and scored on a free throw with no time left on the clock for the winning point in the Tualatin game.

Ahlstrom (17 points), Bobst (14 points), Udland (12 points) and Haehlen (12 points) scored in double figures as the Cavaliers rallied from behind to beat Hermiston, outscoring the Bulldogs 27-15 in the final period.

Keaton Bankofier (14 points) joined Udland in double figures in Friday’s win over South Salem. Stinson hit two free throws when he was fouled with 4.8 seconds remaining for the winning points in the 51-49 win.

Juniors Keegan Daley (6-5 post) and Garrett Dahmen (6-1 post) and freshman Beau Gunderson (6-1 guard) round out this year’s Cavalier varsity roster.

King says that from watching game films from last year, he expects the Three Rivers League to be tough from top to bottom, with Lake Oswego and West Linn getting the nod as preseason favorites.

“The way they finished last year, and with what they have coming back, Lake Oswego and West Linn would have to be the favorites,” King said.

Lake Oswego last year lost to Jesuit in the Class 6A state final, after beating West Linn in the championship semifinals.

Lake Oswego returns the 2012 Three Rivers League Player of the Year in Calvin Hermanson, along with 6-5 senior post Connor Griffin, who started two years ago but sat out last season with an injury. The Lakers also have a transfer who is supposed to be pretty good in 6-4 senior point guard Christian McDonald.

West Linn returns two second-team all-league selections in junior Ryan Shearmire (6-5 post) and sophomore Anthony Mathis (6-1 wing), along with junior Hayden Coppedge (6-3 wing), who garnered honorable mention in last year’s all-league balloting.

“It’s going to be a battle, but I think we’re going to be competitive with Lake Oswego and West Linn in league this year,” Bankofier said. “Our goal’s to go to the Rose Garden. We’re looking to go all the way.”

The Cavaliers meet Beaverton at 6:15 p.m. this Friday in the first round of a tournament at Century.

They host Sunset next Wednesday (Dec. 19) and they vie in the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School Dec. 26-29.

League play begins on Friday, Jan. 11, when the Cavaliers entertain West Linn.

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