The TRL girls basketball title chase heats up

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Taylor Enders-Smith (15) and Courteney Landis (23) had a tough time keeping up with Clackamas guard Kaitlyn Reiner and her teammates in last weeks game at Clackamas. The Cavaliers thrashed the Lions 48-27.The Three Rivers League girls basketball league title chase remained a dogfight heading into the home stretch.

Clackamas (17-4, 6-1) and Oregon City (14-6, 6-1) entered play this week a game up on West Linn (16-4, 5-2).

Clackamas, which got blown out by Oregon City in a first-round game, was to meet Oregon City a second time on Tuesday (Feb. 18) at Clackamas.

The Pioneers host West Linn next Tuesday in their final game of the league season. They lost to the Lions 68-61 in a Feb. 4 game at West Linn. Clackamas has beaten West Linn twice.

The Cavaliers came out fired up in last week’s game with the Lions. They took charge early and were in command from the opening tip-off to the final horn.

Forcing turnovers, dominating the backboards and playing aggressively at both ends of the floor, the Cavaliers built a 12-point lead, at 16-4, in the first 5-1/2 minutes of play. They stretched their advantage to 32-13 by the halftime break, and the game was in hand.

Six different players scored for Clackamas in the first quarter, while West Linn made only four field goals and had only three players score in the entire first half.

The Lions struggled to get clean looks at the basket all night. They were 4-of-22 from the field (.181) in the first half and 10-of-45 from the field (.222) for the game. They made only one field goal, out of 19 attempts from 3-point range.

It was like night and day for the Cavaliers from an earlier game with West Linn. Clackamas won that game 48-39, but the Cavaliers trailed most of the way.

“We played really good defense tonight,” said Clackamas senior co-captain Sydney Azorr. “We played really well as a team and stuck to our assignments. Last time we struggled with our shooting. This time our shots were on.”

“I thought our defense and overall intensity was a lot better than last time,” echoed Clackamas coach Todd Lane. “We really challenged their shots and we blocked out and looked to get out fast in the other direction....

“We played hard on defense the whole game. Erin [McDonald] did a really good job guarding Ashley Johnson.”

Johnson scored just one point in the game and she was 0-for-8 from the field.

Senior leaders Azorr (13 points), Kaitlyn Reiner (11 points) and Erica Pagano (11 points on 4-for-6 shooting) headed up the offensive effort for the Cavaliers.

Pagano (10 rebounds) was also tough on the backboards.

The Cavaliers forced 20 turnovers, while committing 13, and they out-rebounded their guests 39-33.

Azorr said, “This win [over West Linn] is huge! Since West Linn beat Oregon City, now we’re all tied for first place. It’s a big step towards our goal, which is league champions.”

Lane said he felt confident in his charges heading into their Feb. 18 rematch with Oregon City.

“After we played them last time we had a little midseason talk,” said Lane. “Since them we seem to have things going back in the right direction. We looked great against Canby and West Linn. But it’s just one game at a time.”

Clackamas continued on track last Friday, hammering Lake Oswego 60-25. The Cavaliers took no hostages, building a 17-3 lead in the first quarter and a 28-7 advantage by halftime.

Jordan Rasberry (10 points) headed a balanced offensive effort that saw 10 Clackamas players score.

Clackamas concludes the regular season hosting Lakeridge (6-14, 1-6) on Friday and playing Canby (14-7, 3-4) on the road next Tuesday. In first round league games the Cavaliers handled both opponents, defeating Lakeridge 62-41 and Canby 66-42.

Heading into play this week, Clackamas, Oregon City and West Linn girls were ranked second, fifth and seventh in the state in the OSAA Class 6A RPI rankings.

Oregon City girls had a relatively easy time of it last week, winning 67-56 at Canby on Friday, after routing Lakeridge 96-31 earlier in the week.

The game with Canby was a lot more lopsided than the score might indicate. Oregon City was up 38-21 at halftime and Canby outscored Oregon City by 10 points in the fourth quarter, after Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf had turned the play over to reserves.

Toria Bradford (17 points), Cierra Walker (14 points), Jessica Gertz (14 points) and Taylor Shaw (10 points) all scored in double figures against Canby.

Gertz (24 points), Shaw (16 points), Walker (13 points, 5 assists), Jordan Kelly (13 points), Alyssa Durr (10 points) and Bradford (7 assists) led the charge in the Feb. 11 game with Lakeridge. Gertz hit 4-of-5 shots from 3-point land; Kelly was a perfect 3-for-3 on 3’s.

Led by Gertz (7 steals), the Pioneers forced 31 turnovers in the rout of the Pacers.

The Pioneers host Lake Oswego (7-13, 0-7) this Friday; they close out the league season next Tuesday, in their ever important rematch with cross-river rival West Linn.

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