Clackamas boys flip switch in third quarter, turn back Centennial, 80-60
Through the first half of Friday night's Clackamas-Centennial high school boys' basketball game, it was hard to tell which team was the Mt. Hood Conference title contender and which team had the 3-15 record.
Then in the third quarter, Clackamas' Cole Turner got going.
Turner went on a mini dunk-fest and scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter, rallying the Cavaliers to an 80-60 home win over the turnover-prone Eagles.
Bubba Jaha finished with 14 points and Mitchell Modjeski added 11 points as the Cavaliers (11-8, 8-1 Mt. Hood) won their fifth in a row and stayed in the hunt for a possible third consecutive league championship.
Jimmie Barton scored a team-high 22 for the Eagles (3-16, 1-8), who led by as many as seven points in the second quarter and had a 29-28 halftime lead before the game flipped in the third quarter.
Clackamas coach Cameron Mitchell found it disconcerting to see the Cavaliers do little more than go through the motions early on, and he called out his seniors at halftime to do something about it.
"The halftime discussion was, 'How do you guys want to finish your senior season?'" Mitchell said. "We can't come out in games with this kind of lackadaisical pace, but it was up to them to make a change."
Clackamas threw its energies into a press defense to start the third quarter and forced three turnovers that fueled a 6-2 run, ending with a Turner fastbreak jam that gave the Cavaliers a 34-31 lead.
Centennial's T.J. Tyler and Jalen Calvert each got inside and scored to put the Eagles back in front 35-34 with 4:37 to play in the third.
That's when things fell apart for the Eagles.
Again, it was the Clackamas press that triggered the turnaround, forcing one turnover after another that turned into three Turner dunks, a Jaha 3-pointer, a Turner lay-in, a Richard Kennewell free throw, and a Modjeski free throw that was the result of a technical foul.
All that happened in less than two minutes and the Cavaliers went from trailing by a point to leading 47-35 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
"We were finally able to speed them up, which is more of our game," said Turner, the 6-foot-7 senior post. "In the first half, we were playing Centennial's pace where they sat back and got us to shoot from the outside when we're the type of team that wants to take step-in-rhythm threes and get to the hole.
"When we got a chance to speed it up and turn them over a couple times, that was the difference."
The surge came so quickly, the Eagles barely had a chance to catch their breath.
"Turning the ball over has been an issue for us all year," Centennial coach John Poetsch said. "That was our undoing tonight. Most of those were cross-court passes that ended up being dunks going the other direction.
"Clackamas came out ready to play in the second half, but I think we helped energize them by giving them some easy ones in transition."
Another Turner dunk off another Centennial turnover capped a 10-2 burst in the final 1:17 of the third quarter that extended the lead to 57-40. At that point, the Eagles looked as if they were ready to head back to Southeast Portland.
"Basketball is pretty simple," Poetsch said. "You've got to compete and you've got to play for 32 minutes. We've taken a lot of knocks over the year and we have not been a team that has hung our head ever, but I saw a little bit of that tonight.
"It's a little bit understandable when you have players with high hopes for the season and you rack up quite a few losses. We've been right in most every game for the most part, but I wasn't really happy with the way they responded to that run that Clackamas made in the third quarter, especially when it was of our making."
After Clackamas' Russell Gray hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 68-42 with 4:58 remaining in the fourth, it was time for the Cavaliers' bench to mop up.
"The way we started in the second half when we put the press on, we probably should have started the game like that," Mitchell said. "Centennial's a good team. They've got good ball-handlers and guys that can get to the rack, and they were getting to the rack at will against us.
"We really need to improve our on-ball defense. It's nowhere near where it needs to be to get to where we want to go."
Clackamas plays at last-place Reynolds on Wednesday and then returns home Friday for a showdown with league co-leader Oregon City, which handed the Cavaliers their only loss in league play, 49-46, at Oregon City three weeks ago.
"While we didn't play a full 32-minute game tonight, I would say this was one of our better games energy-wise and intensity-wise in the second half," Mitchell said. "We've got another big week ahead and I'm looking forward to it."
CENTENNIAL 14 15 11 20 -- 60
CLACKAMAS 16 12 29 23 -- 80
Centennial (60) -- Jimmie Barton 22, Phuntsok 9, Tyler 4, Kunda 8, Calvert 4, Barber 2, Deleon 8, Walter 3, Anderson, Porterfield, Doumit, Cernatescu.
Clackamas (80) -- Cole Turner 25, Jaha 14, Modjeski 11, Gray 7, Ahlstrom 7, Aspidov 6, Kennewell 4, Sofia 3, DiGregorio 3, Gavrilovich.