Clackamas comeback bid falls short in crunch time at Newberg, 59-52
Newberg's Alex Jaczko scored a game-high 18 points and Jack Chlumak converted a pivotal three-point play with 1:45 remaining, lifting the Tigers' boys' basketball team to a 59-52 non-conference home win Thursday over the Clackamas Cavaliers.
Jake Gaunt, Luke Esmond, and Caleb Muthiah added nine points each for the Tigers (5-5), who opened an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter and then withstood a spirited Clackamas comeback to lock up their fourth win in a row.
"We had to work for it at the end," Tigers coach Mark Brown said. "We made it a little bit more interesting than I would have liked, but to win four in a row … I feel really good about that."
Jailen Hammer led Clackamas with 12 points, Artur Gavrilovich had 11, and David Aspidov added 10 as the Cavaliers (1-7) suffered their sixth consecutive loss.
"We haven't played a full 32 minutes yet," Cavaliers coach Cameron Mitchell said. "It's tough, but we're staying positive because the games are close. We're right there, but then we take a half a quarter off or we play bad defense for a quarter and it kills us.
"I think a lot of that is just inexperience. It's hard to figure out exactly why that is happening, whether it's a personnel thing or it's just high school kids being high school kids."
Trailing 44-26 with 5:02 remaining in the third quarter, Clackamas went on a 24-7 run that ended with Damon Erickson getting a generous bounce on a 3-pointer from the top of the arc the pulled the Cavaliers within a point, 51-50, with 5:09 to play.
After the teams traded baskets, Chlumak made one of two free throws to push the Newberg lead to 54-52 with 2:49 play.
The Cavaliers had three shots -- two by Hammer and one by Gavrilovich -- that would have tied it, but all three missed the mark.
After the third miss, Chulmak went the other way and was fouled as he scored on a drive the basket. He then knocked down the free throw to complete the three-point play, making it 57-52 with 1:45 to play.
The Tigers left the door open when they missed the front end of three consecutive one-and-one opportunities in the final 47 seconds, but the Cavaliers had run out of gas at that point.
"It's becoming really frustrating, because we want to win so badly," Gavrilovich said. "There were times in the third quarter tonight I definitely saw us playing up to our potential.
"It's when everyone is giving 100 percent and we put our best foot forward that we play our best. We just can't seem to do it for an entire game."
Newberg had a distinct height advantage, going with a starting five that stood 6-6, 6-5, 6-4, 6-3, and 6-1, while Clackamas' starting five went 6-2, 6-1, 5-11, 5-10, and 5-7.
The Cavaliers held their own around the basket early on, scoring three of their first five baskets off offensive rebounds and taking a 13-11 lead on an Aspidov put-back with 3:48 to play in the first quarter.
Tied at 22-22, Newberg closed the half on a 12-2 run that saw the Cavaliers come up empty on nine of their final 10 possessions, going 1 for 7 from the field and 0 for 1 at the free-throw line with two turnovers.
The Tigers then opened the second half on an 8-0 run, extending the lead to 42-24 on Muthiah's transition lay-in with 6:01 remaining in the third quarter.
"Bad transition defense," Gavrilovich said. "We just weren't communicating on defense and we never got back in time, so they got a lot of easy buckets off transitions."
But then the Cavaliers regrouped and climbed back into the game doing the same things that worked so well for them early in the game, attacking the basket and scoring on second-chance opportunities.
Clackamas opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run that started with Gavrilovich scoring off an offensive rebound and ended with Erickson burying a 3-pointer from the right corner to cut Newberg's lead to 49-47 with 6:25 to play.
"I think the biggest thing was that we turned our defense into offense," Mitchell said of the Cavaliers' comeback. "Newberg starting turning it over and all of a sudden the floor opened up and we were getting lay-ups. And if we missed the lay-up, we still were getting offensive rebounds and scoring."
Unfortunately for Clackamas, the Tigers had answers for everything the Cavs threw at them down the stretch.
"We're just a couple of plays away in every game," Mitchell said. "A game like this makes me excited to come back to practice, and I just hope the guys stay positive, because we're just a couple little things away.
"It's like, if we could just be 5 percent better, right? Now all those losses are wins. It's kind of crazy."