Oregon City girls edge Clackamas 44-42, move into first-place tie
As Oregon City's Brooke Bullock stepped to the free-throw line inside a raucous Clackamas High School gymnasium with the score tied and 7.7 seconds to play, she felt a little "iffy."
It was the first time Bullock had been to the line in the game and the home crowd was doing its part to try and distract the Pioneers' junior shooting guard, knowing that first place in the Mt. Hood Conference girls' basketball race was on the line.
"That was a lot of pressure," Bullock said. "It was a loud gym, a good crowd, and I knew I had to make the free throws or it probably wasn't going to be good.
"We were probably going to go into overtime."
Bullock knocked down both free throws and then Oregon City's defense denied three Clackamas shots from inside the paint in the final three seconds as the Pioneers locked up a 44-42 victory and snapped the Cavaliers' 12-game win streak.
Rory Schedler led all scorers with 14 points for Oregon City and Bullock added 12 to help the Pioneers (13-8, 10-1 Mt. Hood) earn a split of the season series with Clackamas and move into a first-place tie with the Cavaliers (19-2, 10-1).
"We did just enough to win that game, and that's really all you need in a game like that -- just one more bucket or one more play than the other guy," Pioneers coach Kurt Guelsdorf said. "It wasn't real pretty. It was just a lot of heart and determination."
Kalani Hayes finished with 12 points to lead the defending league-champion Cavaliers, who never led in the game, yet rallied from as many as 12 points down in the first half to tie the score four times in the second half -- first at 26-26 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter, and finally at 42-42 on two Hayes' free throws with 33 seconds to play.
Oregon City called timeout with 16.4 seconds left. Guelsdorf assumed that Bullock would be guarded by Hayes, the Cavs' 5-11 junior, as she had been through most of the second half, so he decided to draw up a play for Schedler, the 5-10 sophomore who beat the buzzer with a basket at the end of the third quarter to give the Pioneers a 28-26 lead.
As Oregon City went to inbound the ball, Clackamas switched Hayes away from Bullock, prompting Guelsdorf to call out a new play so Bullock would get the ball.
Bullock got the ball on the right wing, tried a pull-up jumper from about 10 feet, and got fouled from behind.
"Not many teams would be able to make that switch on the fly out of a timeout when something completely different has been called," Guelsdorf said. "We got our best player the ball going down hill and she made a play."
Bullock still had two free throws to try and make in a gym that was almost filled to capacity.
"I was a little iffy, because it was so loud," Bullock said. "I don't know, but I was iffy, definitely, and after I made the first that kind of boosted my confidence."
After the second free throw, Clackamas rushed down the floor and got three shots off despite some heavy contact in the battle for rebounds under the basket.
"When you get three really good attempts right at the hole … we got what we wanted to get," Cavaliers coach Korey Landolt said. "I felt we got fouled a little bit, but the officials … they just wanted to let the girls play it out and we just couldn't put it in. I don't feel I regret anything on that one.
"Pretty exciting, being in that close of a game and being in that kind of atmosphere that we were able to have here. In the second half, we showed kind of who we are. We're fighters, and it took the whole team and the whole bench to provide an energy and a focus to get back in that game."
Clackamas played without junior shooting guard Alyson Miura, who was diagnosed Thursday with a broken bone in her right hand -- an injury that she believes she may have sustained when she fell in a Dec. 19 game at Hermiston.
With Miura out, senior Megan Huynh moved into the starting lineup with Elly Bankofier, Ciara James, Bri Phiakhamngon, and Hayes.
The Pioneers countered with their regular starting five -- Allie Edwards, Kaari Guelsdorf, Kylie Guelsdorf, Bullock and Schedler -- and jumped out to leads of 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, 20-8 midway through the second, and 22-14 at halftime.
"We definitely knew what we wanted to do, but we kind of came out a little bit frazzled," said Landolt, whose team finished the first half going 2 for 12 from and field and 7 for 11 at the free-throw line with 12 turnovers. "We made a couple of bad mistakes and the girls got on their heels a little bit and were a little nervous to make more mistakes, which isn't a comfortable place to be in."
Trailing 41-34, the Cavs went on an 8-1 run to tie it, scoring all eight points at the free-throw line.
"We knew that Clackamas would make a run," Kurt Guelsdorf said. "They're a handful and they put so much pressure on you, but the reality is we just gutted one out with good, ol' Pioneer pride."
Guelsdorf said he wasn't sure what to expect coming off an emotional 68-60 overtime win Wednesday against Central Catholic in which the Pioneers rallied from a 15-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter.
"It was huge for us to get off to a good start tonight, because when you're emotionally and physically drained after playing the kind of game that we played on Wednesday, it would have been easy to get behind or get more tired than you already are," he said. "To come into this place with a darn-good high school crowd here, that was a lot of fun.
"It feels pretty good to come into their place and win. I was pretty excited, probably too excited for my own good, but Clackamas has a great program with great kids and played really hard. We were just fortunate to come out with a win tonight."
With three games left in the regular season, Clackamas and Oregon City appear destined to finish as league co-champions, although Central Catholic may have something to say about that Tuesday when the Rams visit Clackamas.
"Sharing a league championship … I mean, we obviously wanted to defend it outright, but we've got to go take care of business on Tuesday for that to even be an option," Landolt said. "Not ideal. We're not going to be super-pumped that we have to share. But at the same time, that's still a goal of ours and something that we'll be excited to share if that happens.
"Rankings aside, I feel like we learned a lot about ourselves tonight. A loss this late in the season could spark a fire, and I'm kind of hopeful that was something that we'll learn from. We don't have a lot of experience on the losing end this year, so we'll feel that hurt and hopefully fight against it and move on to what's next."
OREGON CITY 12 10 6 16 -- 44
CLACKAMAS 6 8 12 16 -- 42
Oregon City (44) -- Rory Schedler 14, Bullock 12, Ka. Guelsdorf 9, Ky. Guelsdorf 6, Edwards 3, Bradford, Crowley, Welch.
Clackamas (42) -- Kalani Hayes 12, Phiakhamngon 10, Bankofier 5, James 7, Mongelli 8, Huynh, Morris, Duarte.