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Clackamas fifth graders go 38-0

The young Cavaliers are dominant against every team, including Oregon City

CLACKAMAS - There's a group of young girls from Clackamas who are drawing a lot of attention in youth basketball.

They have been dominant this year against the top fifth grade girls teams in the state, outscoring fifth grade opponents by an average of 38-15, en route to a 38-0 record.

'Our narrowest margin of victory [in league competition with fifth grade teams] was seven - against Tigard,' said Ray Byzewski, who coached the team with Clackamas High School head football coach Joe Bushman.

En route to their perfect record, the young Cavaliers defeated Oregon City's top fifth grade tournament team all five times that they played them.

'This is a special group of girls….,' said Byzewski. 'Coaches from around the Metro area are saying that Clackamas is the new Oregon City - when it comes to girls basketball.'

In games against the Pioneers' tournament team, Clackamas prevailed 25-13, 34-14, 27-22, 27-19 and 25-8.

They defeated Tualatin 41-33 and Tigard 37-18 in the end of the season League Championship Classic Tournament.

Their overall record was 41-1, with their only loss to a Vancouver sixth grade all-star team in a tournament held in Lake Oswego.

'This was their first year playing together, but they've all been playing basketball since first grade, and most of them have played soccer together for three years,' said Byzewski. 'They're friends. They have a lot of sleepovers together….

'They play year around soccer together. They are a very competitive group. They play very good defense and they like to get out and run.'

Byzewski said the team was effective both in full-court trapping and man-to-man defenses.

The coaches platooned the 10-player team all year, switching their lineup near the midpoint of every quarter.

'One group was offense-minded; the other was defense minded,' said Byzewski. 'We'd put in that defensive group and they'd just suffocate the other team.'

Byzewski said the platoon system worked well, because it gave Bushman the opportunity to talk with the group that was on the bench, while he coached the girls who were on the floor.

Point guards Cassie Haehlen and Erin McDonald paced the team in scoring, averaging 9.4 and 9.3 points respectively.

Emily Melton (4-6 wing) was the lone fourth grader on the team.

Rounding out the roster were: Pieper James (5-6 center), Jade Haehlen (5-2 center), Ally Bushman (5-4 forward), Sammy Haehlen (5-1 forward), and wings Maddie Byzewski, Amanda Zehr and Samantha Gaussoin.

Coach Byzewski said he expects most of the girls to return to play sixth grade Classic basketball for Clackamas next season, although he said tryouts could mean some change in the lineup.

'We're probably going to be even better next year,' Byzewski said.