The defending Mt. Hood Conference champs open conference play with routs of Reynolds and No. 6 Clackamas

JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City senior sharpshooter Cierra Walker (10) used cant-miss shooting from downtown to stake Oregon City to an early 12-4 lead, as the Pioneers routed Clackamas, winning 53-37, in a Friday night game at Clackamas.Any team that hopes to contend for the Mt. Hood Conference girls basketball title this year is going to have to go through Oregon City.

The defending league champion Pioneers and 2015 league player of the year Cierra Walker made a statement to that effect this week, as they opened their Mt. Hood Conference campaign with routs of Reynolds (92-28) and Clackamas (53-37), two teams that had a combined preseason record of 13-6 heading into this week’s league openers.

Friday night’s game at Clackamas was nowhere near as close as the final score. Rallying around the play of Walker, the Pioneers rolled to a 21-4 lead in the first quarter and a 36-13 advantage by halftime.

Asked prior to the game what it was going to take to stay with the Pioneers, Clackamas coach Todd Lane said, “We can’t turn the ball over and we can’t let them make 3-pointers.”

Not only did the Pioneers come out making 3’s and forcing turnovers. But the Cavaliers fired blanks from the field in the first quarter, missing on seven of their first nine shots from the floor and turning the sphere over nine times in the first eight minutes.

Walker was all business from the get-go, hitting three shots from NBA 3-point range to start the game, and turning a 3-point play on a drive to the basket to make it 12-4 Oregon City at the 3:29 mark. And she and her teammates widened the gap from there.

Walker finished up with a game-high 22 points, picking up 14 of Oregon City’s 21 points in the first period. The 5-9 senior sharpshooter also stole the ball four times and blocked three shots.

“Clackamas is our rival and that motivated us for this game,” Walker said. “We’ve been focussed and disciplined in practice all week, preparing for this game. And we came out ready to go.”

Walker was also a force in the blowout of Reynolds, scoring a game-high 22 points, while connecting on six of seven shots from 3-point land.

Walker, who struggled with her 3-point shot for much of the preseason due to back pain, said she’s been icing her back and doing stretching exercises, and she’s had less pain over the past couple of weeks.

Walker was the only Oregon City player to hit double digits in scoring at Clackamas.

Oregon City junior guard N’Dea Flye was a terror on defense, stealing the sphere six times, deflecting nine shots, and battling for 10 rebounds.

Senior post Peyton Carroll and sophomore guard Bri Phiakhamngon led Clackamas, scoring 14 and 12 points respectively.

Walker’s classmates Taylor Shaw (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Jordan Kelly (15 points, 5 assists) scored big as 13 Oregon City players put points on the scoreboard in the game with Reynolds. Flye was a force, with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

Oregon City and Clackamas were ranked first and sixth in the state respectively by Class 6A coaches heading into Friday’s game. They were the only Mt. Hood Conference teams ranked in the top 10.

Oregon City (8-2, 2-0) was scheduled to play Gresham (4-7, 1-1) on the road on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Clackamas (8-4, 1-1)had a home game scheduled for Jan. 12, with Barlow (6-6, 2-0).

The Pioneers host Centennial (2-9, 0-2) this Thursday (Jan. 14); and they will be in Brooklyn, N.Y., competing in the Rose Classic Showcase, this coming weekend.

Clackamas host Central Catholic (7-5, 2-0) this Friday.

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