Gresham erases nine-point deficit, rallies to 61-60 win at Clackamas
With five minutes to play, the Clackamas Cavaliers had the Gresham Gophers backed into a corner.
The Cavaliers were up nine, but the Gophers still had two of the best players on the floor -- senior Daello Portin-Chapman and junior Ethan Abrahamson
Abrahamson and Portin-Chapman scored 14 of Gresham's final 16 points as the Gophers erased a nine-point deficit in the closing 4:08 and pulled out a 61-60 Mt. Hood Conference boys' basketball victory Friday over the Cavaliers at Clackamas High School.
Trailing 54-45, Gresham went on a 13-3 run that featured Portin-Chapman hitting three 3-pointers and ended with Abrahamson knocking down two free throws to give the Gophers a 58-57 lead with 23.1 seconds remaining.
Clackamas' Jailen Hammer tried to put the Cavaliers back in front with an aggressive drive to the basket, but his shot was blocked by Abrahamson with 11 seconds left.
Abrahamson grabbed the loose ball and was fouled, sending the Gophers' leading scorer back to the foul line with 9.8 seconds left. He made the first free throw to push the lead to 59-57 and then missed the second, but Gresham's Sam Igbonagwam controlled the rebound off a scramble and the Gophers called a timeout with eight seconds to play.
Gresham then inbounded the ball cleanly to Abrahamson, who again got fouled and made both free throws to put the Gophers up 61-57 with 6.2 seconds left.
The game ended on Damon Erickson's 3-pointer for Clackamas that made it a one-point final.
"I thought it was amazing how we fought and got back into the game," said Abrahamson, who scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the second half. "Once we got back into it, we did what we needed to do to win it."
Portin-Chapman finished with 20 points and Eric Puclic added 13 as the Gophers (10-5, 3-2 Mt. Hood) defeated Clackamas for the first time since the Cavaliers joined the league in 2014-15.
Gresham also snapped a 10-game losing streak in the all-time series with the Cavaliers, winning at Clackamas for the first time since a 55-54 victory on Dec. 6, 2005.
"It's just a credit to our guys for learning how to win games in different ways," Gophers coach Erik Lyslo said. "Last year, we don't find a way to win that game. This year, we've won so many games in so many different ways.
"We knew it was going to be a grind. And that fourth quarter, you look up and you're down nine and we put the ball in the hands of our two best players and said, 'You're going to have to start making some plays."
Ryan Lewis led Clackamas with 16 points, while Hammer bounced back from a scoreless first half to finish with 12 points and David Aspidov added 10 as the Cavaliers (3-11, 2-3) lost their third in a row.
"It came down to defense," Clackamas coach Cameron Mitchell said. "We had to get stops and we couldn't get stops. It keeps biting us in the rear and we're just not finishing games right now.
"Gresham's pressure got to us a little bit, but really a lot of it was one-on-one defense and our inability to get stops when we needed them."
There were two ties and seven lead changes during a first half that ended with Aspidov knocking down two free throws to give Clackamas a 24-23 lead.
After Puclic converted a three-point play to give Gresham a 38-36 lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter, Clackamas went on an 18-7 run that ended with Artur Gavrilovich driving the baseline for a basket that gave the Cavaliers a 54-45 lead with 4:20 to play in the fourth.
Next came an 11-1 Gresham run that started with Portin-Chapman 3-pointer, then another Portin-Chapman trey, then a Puclic lay-up, and, finally, another Portin-Chapman shot from the top of the arc that gave the Gophers a 56-55 lead with 57 seconds left.
"Our coach always pushes me to do better, and he could tell that I wasn't myself this game," Portin-Chapman said. "I stayed confident and then I hit the first one, and then I hit the second one, and the third one, it felt like the ball was in the air for so long, like it just wouldn't come down."
Clackamas regained the lead when Lewis scored with an assist from Erickson to make it 57-56 with 39 seconds left, and then Abrahamson got fouled and made both free throws to make it 58-57 -- the 13th and final lead change of the game -- with 23.1 seconds left.
There was still plenty of time for Clackamas, but the Cavaliers' hopes were dashed when the 5-foot-11 Hammer drove the right side of the lane and had his shot from just under the basket rejected by the 6-3 Abrahamson.
"Hammer loves his right hand when he's driving, so all I thought about was keeping my hands up and I got the block," Abrahamson said. "We needed a stop right there. If we hadn't gotten a stop there, we would have had nine seconds to go get a bucket, so that was a clutch stop."
As Hammer drove to the basket, he figured he'd either get the shot to drop or he'd get fouled an end up on the free-throw line.
"When I stopped, I pump faked, and I thought I was going to get the shot off," Hammer said. "Then I thought I would get the contact, but I didn't. It's tough when you get a no call, but there's really nothing you can do about it."
Said Mitchell: "It was frustrating, because we had another guy open, but Jailen was trying to be aggressive and make a play, and you can't blame him for that."
All that was left after Abrahamson's defensive play of the game was for him to turn around and make a few free throws to send the Gophers home a winner.
"I think a lot of us might have had some doubt when we went down nine that late in the fourth quarter," Portin-Chapman said. "Coming back like that helped us not only in this game, but it's going to help us out in other close games in the future."
With Friday's win, the Gophers also reached 10 wins for the first time since the 2013-14 season when they finished 10-15.
"Four years ago, Gresham lost 97-24 and 79-41 to Clackamas and wasn't competitive, and here were are three years later, walking into their gym and getting a win," Lyslo said. "So, yes, it's gratifying, but we know our goal is to be a postseason team and this is just one game in 24 that we have to play and now we've got to get ready for Centennial on Wednesday."
After Wednesday's road game against Centennial, the Gophers close out the first half of league play at home Friday against David Douglas.
Clackamas is scheduled to play a non-conference game Monday against Roosevelt at Portland State University, and then wraps up the first half of league play with games Wednesday at David Douglas and Friday at Reynolds.
GRESHAM 16 7 20 18 -- 61
CLACKAMAS 12 12 22 14 -- 60
Gresham (61) -- Ethan Abrahamson 21, Portin-Chapman 20, Puclic 13, Butler 3, Igbonagwam 4, Henkle, Welch, Clinton, Sagiao.
Clackamas (60) -- Ryan Lewis 16, Hammer 12, Mahler 2, Gavrilovich 9, Aspidov 10, Erickson 7, Dorn 4, Vorobets.