The unheralded Pioneers give the Cavaliers a run for their money

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City defenders Briggs Young (left) and Austin DeWitz (right) pressure Clackamas senior wing Andrew Gutwig during last weeks game with the Cavaliers. Gutwig hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points to lead the Cavaliers in a 53-47 come-from-behind victory.Senior leadership at crunch time helped carry the third-ranked Clackamas Cavaliers to a narrow 53-47 win over upstart Oregon City in a Three Rivers League boys basketball game at Oregon City on Jan. 28.

The Pioneers led much of the way, after building a 15-4 advantage 5-1/2 minutes into the game.

It wasn’t until the final minute of the third quarter that Cavalier senior wing Andrew Gutwig hit a 3-pointer — his fifth of the game — to put the Cavaliers up for good, at 36-33.

It was still a one-point game, at 36-35, when Oregon City junior wing Austin DeWitz scored on a pull-up jumper early in the fourth quarter.

But the Cavaliers pulled away down the stretch, as they played with more poise when the game was on the line. Oregon City played in somewhat of a panic mode in the final quarter and hit only 5-of-17 shots from the field in the period.

Gutwig followed up a Pioneer miss at the free throw line with a drive to the bucket to up Clackamas’ lead to 38-35.

Following a missed field goal by Oregon City, Clackamas senior post David Reese scored a lay-up, off a crisp pass from senior Keaton Bankofier, to make it 40-35 Clackamas.

And following another Pioneer miss, Clackamas sophomore point guard Mitchell Fink found Reese open under the basket for another lay-up, and a 42-35 Cavalier lead.

The two teams traded misses and then Bankofier was fouled on a drive to the basket. He hit two free throws and the Cavaliers were in control, leading 35-44 with the game winding down.

The Pioneers didn’t quit and they attempted to make a run at the end. Brad Martin got a steal as the Pioneers ran the full-court press. And it appeared that the Pioneers might make it a 4-point game when Martin drove to the basket, made the basket, and was fouled with 1:01 to play. But the officials ruled that the foul was before the basket. The basket was taken away and the Pioneers were given the ball to inbound, rather than having Martin step to the free throw line to complete a possible 3-point play.

Clackamas senior wing Cole Scruggs and Bankofier combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds of play, and the Cavaliers celebrated the hard fought 53-47 win.

Gutwig was huge for the Cavaliers, coming off the bench to score a game-high 22 points, hauling down eight rebounds, and hitting three of his five 3-pointers in the third period, when the Cavaliers rallied to gain the upperhand.

Bankofier (16 points) was the only Clackamas player besides Gutwig to reach double digits in scoring.

Mitchell Fink sparked the Cavalier offense with five assists, and the sophomore playmaker was tough on defense, forcing six Oregon City turnovers.

DeWitz (13 points), Martin (12 points, 8 rebounds) and sophomore Trevon Bradford (11 points, 3 assists) paced the Pioneers in scoring.

“I’m not at all surprised they gave us a game,” said Bankofier. “They always come out hard and work hard, and they’re a good team. We came out a little sluggish and they took advantage....”

Bankofier said that senior leadership was pivotal in the Cavalier win.

“We’re a lot more composed than we were last year,” he said. “Last year, when things would go wrong, we’d panic. We were pretty composed tonight. We knew if we continued to battle, we could come back and get the win.”

“We are really proud of our players,” said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. “They played extremely hard and put themselves in position to beat the No. 3 team in the state.

“Unfortunately for us, our scoring drought in the third quarter was too much to overcome.

“The bad news is we lost. The good news is our players understand the big picture of getting better every week, in preparation for postseason.”

After going 10-for-21 from the field — with two 3-pointers in the first half, the Pioneers made only 2-of-11 field goals in the third period and they were 7-of-28 from the field in the second half.

The Clackamas Cavaliers won a tight game at Lakeridge (55-48) on Friday. Clackamas was up 27-20 at halftime and 41-32 heading into the fourth quarter; and the Cavaliers held off the Pacers down the stretch.

Markus Golder (12 points) and Fink (11 points) led a balanced Cavalier offense. Reggie Oliver paced the Pacers, with 20 points.

Clackamas (15-3, 3-1) begins the second half of the league season next Tuesday, hosting top-ranked West Linn (14-4, 4-0). Gametime is 7:30 p.m.

Canby gave West Linn a run for its money in an 81-72 loss last Friday. Clackamas was to play Canby (7-9, 0-4) on Tuesday (Feb. 4). TRL teams are idle on Friday, Jan. 7.

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