And theyre making reservations for next year

by: DAN BROOD - Clackamas junior Sydney Azorr beats Tigard freshman post Elise Conroy to a rebound in the Cavaliers quarterfinal game with the Tigers.The Clackamas Cavaliers did themselves proud at last weekend’s Class 6A State High School Girls Basketball Tournament, bringing home the sixth-place team trophy, despite fielding one of the state tournament’s youngest teams.

The Cavaliers’ 14-player state tournament roster included 11 underclassmen, and they started three juniors.

The Cavaliers (22-7, 8-2) proved themselves without question one of the top teams in the state. After finishing second only to top-ranked Oregon City in the Three Rivers League, Clackamas advanced to the eight-team state tournament through convincing playoff wins over Reynolds (56-21) and South Eugene (42-31).

After dropping a 34-30 heartbreaker to Tigard, the state’s top defensive team, in the quarterfinals, they bounced back to beat St. Mary’s 55-50 and earned a shot at 2012 state finalists Westview in a trophy game.

And they gave the Wildcats a run for their money, before running out of gas in the fourth quarter of a 76-58 loss. It was a four-point game heading into the fourth quarter of the fourth-place final with the Cats.

“It’s been an incredible season,” said Clackamas coach Todd Lane. “They’ve worked so hard for this. Their ultimate goal was to get to the Rose Garden. To get to Saturday and the trophy round was a tremendous accomplishment. I couldn’t be prouder.”

“I feel like this year was my best year,” said senior Deeshyra Thomas, who was also a part of a Clackamas team that placed second at state in 2011. “Not only because I was the senior leader and helped get us through some tough times. But because of how the team came together and how hard they worked to get here.”

“It was a huge accomplishment getting to the Rose Garden and winning the sixth place trophy,” said Clackamas junior Kaitlyn Reiner. “It means so much, because we worked so hard this year.”

“It’s really exciting!” said junior Erica Pagano. “Our goal was to get here, and getting a trophy was icing on the cake. I’m so proud of the team. We did so well.”

The Cavaliers proved they belonged, giving every team they played at the state tournament a game.

With most of the players on the team new to the state tournament and the Rose Garden, the Cavaliers had a bad case of jitters in their tournament opener with Tigard, which had been heralded as the top Class 6A defensive team in the state.

Nerves prove costly

in quarterfinal loss

Thanks both to their jitters, and to the Tigers’ aggressive zone half-court defense, the Cavaliers had one of their worst shooting nights of the season.

Part of coach Lane’s strategy was to loosen up the zone by having his Cavaliers score from long range. But the plan backfired, because open shots refused to drop.

The Cavaliers went 4-for-24 (17 percent) from the field in the first half. They trailed by only five points, at 16-11, at halftime, even with the subpar shooting.

The Cavaliers forced steals with a full-court press in the second half, got a few shots to drop, and gradually closed the gap.

Sydney Azorr’s baseline jumper near the midpoint of the fourth quarter pulled the Cavaliers to within a point, at 28-27.

Deeshyra Thomas followed up Erica Pagano’s monster block of a shot by Tigard star point guard Lexi Carter with a short jumper. And the Cavaliers had their first lead since early in the game, at 29-28, with 2:55 left to play.

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Clackamas senior leader Deeshyra Thomas splits Westview senior defenders Lauren Lindley (50) and Bridget Eby (23) as Thomas chases down a loose ball in Saturday mornings fourth-place final.Pagano followed up a Tigard field goal with a free throw to knot the score at 30-30 with 56 seconds remaining.

Carter swished a pair of gifters with 24 seconds left to put the Tigers up 32-30.

The Tigers got a steal, and Tigard senior forward Meeka Mayhew then iced the win, hitting two more free throws, for the 34-30 victory.

“We had a lot of good looks,” Thomas said. “They just weren’t falling.”

The Cavaliers shot at an ice-cold .222 clip for the game, finding the mark on only 12-of-54 shots from the floor. They went 0-for-10 on 3-pointers.

Carter (12 points) and junior guard Emilee Cincotta (11 points) headed up the offensive effort for Tigard.

Senior post Megan Risinger was huge for the Tigers, hauling down 15 rebounds.

Sydney Azorr scored a game-high 13 points to lead the Cavaliers.

Thomas played a strong game. Despite 4-for-15 shooter, she scored 10 points, claimed 11 rebounds, stole the ball four times and rejected three shots.

Pagano had 10 rebounds, seven points and four blocked shots.

The Cavaliers had only six turnovers, while forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over 15 times.

The Pacific Conference champion Tigers (24-6, 14-0) went on to finish fifth, losing to second-ranked North Medford 35-31 in the semifinals and then getting blown out by Oregon City 68-29 in the third-place final.

Thomas hits

a career high

Deeshyra Thomas put her team on her shoulders and carried them in the consolation semifinals, a 55-50 win over seventh-ranked St. Mary’s.

Thomas was on fire, scoring a career-high 30 points, hauling down nine rebounds, and coming up with 10 steals. Thomas was 10-of-20 from the field, with one 3-point basket; and 9-of-15 from the charity stripe.

The game was hotly contested throughout the first half, with Clackamas holding the biggest lead, at seven points.

Freshman Peyton Carroll hit a jumper just before halftime to put the Cavaliers up for good, at 26-24.

Clackamas went on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter, stretching its advantage to 11 points, at 35-24.

St. Mary’s rallied back to within a point, at 48-47, with 3:12 to play. But the Blues never could take the lead.

Thomas’ lay-up off a pass from Vanessa Oakden made it 50-47 Clackamas.

The Tigers hit one of two free throws to trim the gap to 50-48.

But then Thomas hit four straight free throws for a 54-48 Cavalier lead, and the game belonged to Clackamas.

Reiner (11 points) was the only Cavalier besides Thomas to reach double digits in scoring.

The Blues were led by sophomore guard Martina McCowan (16 points), sophomore post Tyschal Blake (14 points) and senior guard Nae Torregano (11 points).

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Metro League co-champion Westview Wildcats (23-5, 9-1) put Clackamas away in Saturday’s fourth-place final.

The score was tied at 15-15 after one quarter, Clackamas trailed 35-33 at halftime, and the Cavaliers were up 47-46 when Thomas drove the lane for a lay-up just past the midpoint of the third quarter.

A fast-break bucket by senior wing Sarah Curl, following a steal and outlet pass by Westview 6-2 star Jaime Nared, made it a four-point game, at 52-48, heading into the fourth quarter.

Westview then hit five straight shots from the floor early in the fourth period, for a 63-50 advantage; and the game was out of reach. The Cats widened the gap down the stretch, beating the Cavalier full-court press and scoring a number of baskets on the fast break.

The Wildcats had balanced scoring, led by the 5-10 Curl (22 points), Nared (20 points) and senior point guard Delanie Parry (20 points). Curl played a pivotal role, hitting 9-of-11 shots from the floor.

Thomas led the Cavaliers with a team-high 16 points and five assists. She was 7-of-12 from the field, with two 3-pointers.

Pagano scored 14 points and blocked four shots; Azorr tallied 10 points, on 5-for-7 shooting.

High expectations

for next season

The Cavaliers will have high expectations next season, with 11 players returning from their 14-player state tournament roster, including junior starters Reiner (5-5 point guard), Azorr (5-9 wing) and Pagano (6-0 post).

Lost to graduation will be seniors Thomas (5-8 wing), Oakden (5-7 wing) and Hannah Stultz (5-6 wing).

Also expected back are sophomores Erin McDonald (5-9 point guard), Caroline Combs (5-10 post/wing), Kharis Wayland (5-8 point guard), Jordan Rasberry (5-11 post) and Kaleah Walterman (5-9 post); and freshmen Carroll (6-2 post), Marissa Kelly (5-8 point guard) and Angela Arrington (5-11 post).

“I think getting here this year will give them a huge motivation to work hard and get back here,” said Clackamas senior Vanessa Oakden. “Because it’s an amazing experience.”

“I think they have a good chance of winning league next year,” Thomas said. “We did so well against every [league] team except Oregon City, and Oregon City is losing so many seniors....

“If they work really hard and have the juniors coming back step up as leaders, I think they have as good a chance as anybody [of returning to the Rose Garden].”

“I definitely think we can get back here [next year],” said Azorr. “It will be hard without the seniors. But if we work hard and play as hard as we can, I do think we can get back to the Rose Garden.”

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