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Youth proves no handicap for Clackamas


The Cavaliers win a pair of state playoff games and advance to the Class 6A State Tournament

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Clackamas senior leader Deeshyra Thomas goes on the attack in Saturdays 42-31 state playoff win over South Eugene.The youthful Clackamas Cavaliers did themselves proud in Class 6A playoff games last week, dispatching with Southwest Conference runner-up South Eugene (42-31) and Reynolds (56-21) and earning a berth in this week’s Class 6A State Girls Basketball Tournament at Portland’s Rose Garden.

“I’m very proud of the girls for what they’ve accomplished,” said Clackamas coach Todd Lane. “They’ve had a great season. They set a goal at the start of the season to get to the Rose Garden. They’ve worked incredibly hard and earned the right to compete for a state title. I’m very proud of them.”

The Cavaliers head to the state tournament with a 21-5 record, their only losses to two out of state teams and to top-ranked Oregon City, three times — 61-36, 58-57 and 84-37.

Ranked third in the state in the OSAA power rankings, the Cavaliers will sport one of the most youthful lineups in the state at the state tournament. Deeshyra Thomas (5-8 wing) Vanessa Oakden (5-7 wing) and Hannah Stultz (5-6 wing) are the only seniors on Clackamas’ varsity roster.

The Cavaliers meet sixth-ranked Pacific Conference champion Tigard (23-4, 14-0) in their state tournament opener, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Rose Garden. The two teams met on Dec. 11, with Clackamas edging the Tigers 35-29. Tigard’s only other losses this season were to two out of state teams and to Oregon City (61-36).

“We’ve played them the last three years, so we’re pretty familiar with them,” Lane said. “They’re a 3-2 zone [defensive] team. South Eugene also ran a 3-2 zone [defense], so we know what to expect.... It should be a good game.”

The 3-2 zone didn’t hurt the Cavaliers in Saturday’s state playoff game with the Axemen, as their first four baskets from the field were 3-pointers. The Cavaliers went up 12-8 in the first quarter, as Vanessa Oakden buried a pair of 3-pointers, and Deeshyra Thomas and Sydney Azorr also connected from beyond the arc.

Thomas and Erica Pagano led an 8-0 run at the end of the second quarter, giving the Cavaliers a 27-19 advantage at the half. And Clackamas was in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.

Thomas had a big night for Clackamas, hitting 8-of-12 shots from the floor, for a game-high 18 points. Kaitlyn Reiner and Oakden sparked the offense with seven assists between them.

Defense was pivotal in the Cavalier victory. Through aggressive full-court and half-court defenses, the Cavaliers forced 21 turnovers, and they held the Axemen to 36 percent shooting (13-for-36).

It was one of the lower scoring games of the season for South Eugene, which entered the contest averaging 44 points an outing.

Thomas (3 steals) and Azorr (3 steals) headed up the defense.

Thomas (8 rebounds) and Pagano (6 rebounds) led Clackamas to a 30-22 advantage on the backboards.

The Cavaliers showed up focussed and ready to play on Feb. 27, and the result was a 56-21 rout of Reynolds in a first-round game of the Class 6A state playoffs.

It was one of the lowest scoring games of the season for the Raiders, who entered the contest averaging 48 points.

“The girls played hard,” said Lane said. “We were aggressive on defense, which was something we were looking to do.”

Lane said that the Cavaliers’ emphasis was on shutting down 5-4 junior guard Ellie Stanfill.

“She scored 28 points in a 63-57 win over Aloha in the play-in round,” Lane said. “We held her scoreless. She was 0-for-5 from the field.”

Lane said that several Clackamas players had a hand in stopping the Raider star, including sophomores Caroline Combs and Kharis Wayland, junior Sydney Azorr and senior Deeshyra Thomas.

The Raiders made only seven field goals out of 40 attempts (.175) in the game.

The Cavaliers forced 26 turnovers, and the Cavalier press was so effective that Lane was able to take it off, with his team leading 19-2, after just a quarter of play.

And the Cavalier bench saw plenty of action. No Clackamas starter played more than 15 minutes, Lane said.

Junior post Erica Pagano (14 points) led eleven Cavalier players who put points on the scoreboard.

Led by Thomas (7 rebounds), freshman Peyton Carroll (6 rebounds) and senior Vanessa Oakden (6 rebounds), the Cavaliers out-rebounded their guests 47-34, collecting 27 rebounds at the offensive end of the floor.