Both teams struggle to find the basket, as the Pioneers dispatch with Clackamas 43-28

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City senior guard Toria Bradford (23) attacks the basket, while Kaitlyn Reiner (left) and Peyton Carroll (33) defend in last weeks 43-28 Pioneer win over the visiting Cavaliers.Oregon City used free throws, sharper shooting from downtown and rebounding to pull away, as the fifth-ranked Pioneers knocked off fourth-ranked Clackamas 43-28 in an intensely played high school girls basketball game between two of the state’s top teams, played at Oregon City on Jan. 28.

The contest was a defensive battle all the way, with the visiting Cavaliers making only 12-of-40 (30 percent) of their shots from the floor and the Pioneers hitting on only 14-of-48 (29 percent) of their attempts.

It was the second lowest scoring game of the season for the Pioneers, who entered the contest averaging 65 points an outing; it was the lowest scoring game of the season for the Cavaliers, who were averaging 56 points coming in.

Rebounding was pivotal. Led by 5-7 senior wing Alyssa Durr (10 rebounds), 5-10 sophomore post Taylor Shaw (10 rebounds) and 5-10 reserve sophomore post Katie Kammerer (4 offensive rebounds), the Pioneers got extra shots by earning a 35-27 advantage on the backboards, with 11 offensive rebounds.

While Clackamas made just one 3-pointer, the Pioneers hit five of them.

Oregon City was 10-of-15 from the free throw line, while Clackamas made 3-of-5 attempts.

Thanks to aggressive defensive play at both ends of the floor and the consequent lukewarm shooting by both clubs, it was still a one-point game, with Oregon City up 13-12, with 3:31 left in the first half.

But that’s where the Pioneers made their move, rallying around can’t miss shooting by senior point guard Toria Bradford at the free throw line.

The Cavaliers were outscored 11-0 in the final 3-1/2 minutes of the first half, as they missed seven straight shots from the floor, while Bradford rallied the Pioneers with free throws.

She hit two free throws as the Pioneers began shooting one-and-ones with 3:21 left in the half.

Bradford added two more free throws a short time later, making it 17-12 Oregon City.

Sophomore post Taylor Shaw scored on a put-back, upping Oregon City’s lead to 19-12.

And Bradford closed out the half with a steal, followed by three more on-target free throws when she was fouled on a 3-point attempt, making it 22-12 Oregon City at the intermission.

Durr hit a 3-pointer to start the second half, upping Oregon City’s lead to 25-12, and the Pioneers had the game in hand.

Bradford (10 points) and sophomore guard Cierra Walker (11 points) were the only players on either team to reach double digits in scoring.

Sophomore post Peyton Carroll led the Cavaliers, with seven points.

“I used to go to Clackamas,” said Bradford. “This feels really good, because they were trash-talking, and we showed them. We took it to them.”

Bradford credited the win to team defense.

“Our defense was pretty solid,” she said. “We came out hard. We communicated really well and our rotations were solid.”

The win was especially gratifying for the Pioneers, because one of their top players, senior wing Jessica Gertz, spent most of the game on the bench, in foul trouble.

“Did it concern me that Jessica was in foul trouble?” said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf. “Yes. When you have a kid who’s scoring 18 points a game sitting for three-fourths of the game, you’re going to be concerned.

“But the other girls picked it up, like I knew they would.

“[Freshman] N’Dea Flye came off the bench and played great! Alyssa Durr upped her game to another level; Cierra Walker played great, which is something we’ve come to expect from her; and Toria Bradford was amazing. She played like her pants were on fire — attacking the basket, playing with a lot of heart, and a lot of Pioneer pride!”

Guelsdorf says he expects a highly competitive game when the two teams meet again on Feb. 18, at Clackamas.

“We did a great job on defense tonight,” Guelsdorf said. “But when we play them next time, a lot of shots that weren’t falling for them here, will fall for them at their place.... It should be another highly competitive game, just like it was tonight.”

The Oregon City Pioneers outmanned the struggling Lake Oswego Lakers, winning 78-23, in a Three Rivers League mismatch, played Friday at Lake Oswego.

The Pioneers had 12 players score and six Oregon City players scored 8 or more points.

Walker (15 points, 7 assists), Shaw (13 points), Durr (12 points) and Bradford (8 points, 7 assists) headed up the offensive assault. Walker was 5-of-8 from the field, with two 3-point baskets.

Shaw led Oregon City to a 38-16 domination of the backboards, with nine rebounds.

The Pioneers (12-5, 4-0) are idle this Friday. They host Lakeridge (5-12, 0-4) next Tuesday and they play Canby (13-5, 2-2) on the road on Friday, Feb. 14.

Canby gave West Linn a run for its money last Friday, taking the ninth-ranked Lions to overtime in a losing effort.

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