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The senior point guard led the Cavaliers to an undefeated Mt. Hood Conference season and a berth in the OSAA Class 6A championship final

REVIEW/NEWS PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Elijah Gonzales averaged 25.3 points, 6.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.9 steals in leading Clackamas to a 24-5 record.Elijah Gonzales ranks as one of the best boys' basketball players of all time at Clackamas High School.

Gonzales, the 5-foot-9 senior point guard, was named the OSAA Class 6A boys' basketball Player of the Year after the Cavaliers went undefeated in Mt. Hood Conference play for the second season in a row and advanced to the championship final of the 6A playoffs against Jefferson.

An all-around leader who was recognized for his creativity as a playmaker in pressure-packed situations, Gonzales averaged 25.3 points, 6.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.9 steals a game for a Clackamas team that finished 24-5 and reached the championship for the second time in school history.

"Elijah is a pretty special kid," Cavaliers coach Ryan King said. "I think people who watch basketball and who watched him play saw that he was able to do a lot of amazing things at some of the biggest moments.

"Being named Player of the Year is a great honor for Elijah, and well-deserved. It's great for our team, too, and what all those kids accomplished."

Named to the all-state first team for the second consecutive season, Gonzales was joined on this season's first team by Cameron Parker of Jesuit, Teagan Quitoriano of Sprague, and Kamaka Hepa and Geno West of Jefferson.

In three tournament games, Gonzales led all scorers with 93 points and shot 53.8 percent (28 for 52) from the field and 87.1 percent (27 for 31) at the free-throw line.

Gonzales had one of his best all-around games in the semifinal against West Linn, scoring a game-high 40 on 9-for-16 shooting from the field with three three-pointers and 19-for-22 shooting from the foul line to lead the Cavaliers to a 78-71 win over the four-time defending state-champion Lions.

In the final against Jefferson, Gonzales got into early foul trouble and finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and two assists in a 70-67 loss to the top-ranked Democrats.

"He was just so comfortable with the basketball," King said "Anytime things got a little rocky or the game got going to quick, he'd slow things down, get us into the things we needed to get into, take care of the ball, and make the right decision. He did that for us, year in and year out.

"Obviously, Elijah meant a lot to our program. He gave us a lot and still wants to help out and give back to our youth program, because that's the kind of kid that he is."

Gonzales signed a National Letter of Intent with Portland State in November, but recently was released from his commitment to the Vikings after Barret Peery was named to replace Tyler Geving as head coach.

King said he expects Gonzales to make a new commitment to another school within the next few weeks.

"It was just a blast to coach him for the last four years," King said. "He always looks to do the right thing and is great to be around, and I'm excited to watch him as he continues to grow as a young man."

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