The Cavaliers force 21 turnovers in a 65-51 win over Putnam
by: Craig Mitchelldyer, Clackamas forward Curtis Papenfuss challenges Putnam center James Clift during a 65-51 Cavalier victory.

CLACKAMAS - The Clackamas Cavaliers used a tenacious half-court defense to put Putnam away 65-51 in a hotly contested Three Rivers League boys basketball game played here Friday.

The upstart Kingsmen battle tough through the first three periods and were within three points, trailing 41-38, heading into the final stanza. But that's where the Cavaliers took charge, scoring on their first six possessions and stretching the gap to 54-40.

'We just put the pressure on and they kind of got rattled,' said Clackamas co-captain Jimmy Houf. 'They turned the ball over and it led to some easy scores.'

The Kingsmen were bothered by Cavalier defensive pressure all night. The Cavaliers forced 21 turnovers while committing only eight turnovers themselves. And two of Clackamas' turnovers were on charges.

'All week long we've been working on pressuring the ball,' said Houf. 'When we get an opponent to turn the ball over it gets everyone going and gets the team excited'

'Our team swarmed to the ball and played great team defense,' said Clackamas coach Jeff Bair. 'And our guards - Jimmy Houf, Nate Coleman, Spencer Bankofier and Andrew Earnest - did a great job of taking care of the basketball tonight.'

Six Clackamas players came through with steals. Houf and Earnest headed the defensive onslaught with three steals apiece.

Despite the Cavaliers' solid defensive play, the Kingsmen stayed in the game through the first three periods through a strong game on the offensive boards.

Kevin Schwartz, Jake Rickert, Ali Mihub and James Clift all scored baskets off of offensive rebounds.

But the Kingsmen appeared to tire while battling the Cavaliers' relentless defensive pressure.

The fourth quarter was two minutes and 20 seconds old before Mihub found the basket on a driving lay-up. And by that time the Cavaliers had built a commanding 52-38 lead.

Following an early fourth-quarter steal by Earnest, Curtis Papenfuss took the ball to the basket for a score.

Bankofier and Earnest both hit 3-pointers and Michael Young got a nifty pass from Bankofier for a close-in basket, and the Cavaliers had their student rooting section chanting, 'Just like football, just like soccer, just like baseball, just like everything.'

Papenfuss (17 points), Earnest (16 points) and Craig Seiler (10 points) paced the victors in scoring. Earnest had four 3-pointers.

'We're growing as a team,' said Houf. 'If we all work together as a team, we can achieve a lot.'

Rickert (18 points), Mihub (16 points) and Schwartz (10 points) were the top point-getters for the Kingsmen. Rickert hit three 3-pointers.

Clackamas (10-3, 2-1) entertains West Linn (7-7, 2-1) this Friday, and the Cavaliers vie at Lakeridge (6-8, 1-3) next Tuesday.

Lakeridge gave ninth-ranked Lake Oswego a run for its money in a 56-55 losing effort last Friday.

'Oregon City's a notch above everyone else,' said Bair. 'But after Oregon City, this league is really up for grabs….

'Putnam's a pretty good ball club. They've got experience and good coaching, and I think they're going to surprise some people before it's all said and done.'

The Kingsmen (7-7, 1-3) meet top-ranked Oregon City (14-1, 3-0) on the road next Tuesday.

On Jan. 15, the Cavaliers survived a sluggish start to defeat Sprague 72-66 in a nonleague game with the Olympians.

Jake Mauermann (22 points) led the charge, as the Cavaliers rallied back from 15-9 first quarter and 24-20 halftime deficits.

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