Mountainside rolls past Clackamas 67-54 in Holiday Tournament final
When Mountainside's Grayson Rowell watched his first shot from beyond the 3-point arc miss the mark, he did what any good shooter would do.
He kept shooting.
Rowell scored 14 of his game-high 17 points in the third quarter, leading a decisive 16-4 run that carried the Mustangs to a 67-56 home win over the Clackamas Cavaliers in Saturday's championship final of the Mountainside Holiday Tournament.
Mountainside's Andrew Ingalls added 11 points and Dezman Baker finished with nine as the Mustangs won their third in a row and improved to 6-1, matching their win total from a year ago.
"I'm really proud of these guys and we've just got to remind them that the next game is the only one that really matter," Mustangs coach Dustin Hewitt said. "But to look and see that we're 6-1, we're proud of that and, hopefully, we haven't played our best basketball yet."
Clackamas (2-1) played most of the game without leading scorer Ben Gregg, who not only ran into early foul trouble, but also was slowed by a nagging back injury that forced the 6-foot-9 junior forward to the bench early in the second quarter.
Even without Gregg on the floor, the Cavaliers matched Mountainside basket for basket for a little more than a half, taking a 32-31 lead on Derek Di'Greigorio's lay-up to start the third quarter.
Then Rowell took over the game for Mountainside, knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers in less than 90 seconds and then adding a lay-up in traffic to give the Mustangs a 42-32 lead with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
After Clackamas' Daniel Mahler hit a short baseline jumper from the left side to make it 44-36, Rowell hit another 3-pointer — his fourth of the quarter and fifth of the game — to push the Mavericks' lead to 47-36 with 2:28 remaining in the third.
"Grayson is a heckuva shooter and when he gets going, the team knos to find him," Hewitt said. "When he hit three in a row, that got us the lead and it allowed us to play with more confidence."
Rowell, the Mustangs' 6-2 senior wing, said it was nice to string some baskets together, especially after he had struggled to score in Friday's 69-50 victory over Newberg.
"I was feeling a little fired up," Rowell said. "I had kind of a rough game against Newberg and I didn't want to stop shooting and risk doing anymore damage to my confidence.
"My teammates told me to keep shooting it and I just shot it."
Clackamas twice cut the lead down to five points in the fourth quarter, the second time when Di'Grigorio scored off a Mountainside turnover to make it 59-54 with 2:39 left.
But then the Cavaliers came up empty on three of their next four possessions and Mountainside closed on an 8-2 run to seal the decision.
"If I'm being honest, it helped getting Ben Gregg out of the game," Rowell said. "Getting him in foul trouble was really good. And then for us, we've been struggling with energy the past few games right off the tip, and I think we did a better job of that this game."
Gregg scored 22 points in a 58-33 rout of Bend in Friday's tourney opener, but sat out most of the second half of that game when his back started giving him problems.
He looked fine during Saturday's warmups, but once the game started, it was clear that something was bothering him.
"Honestly, Ben was actually about 75 percent and he probably shouldn't have played," Clackamas coach Cameron Mitchell said. "He said he felt good. Looking back, I probably should have sat him out the whole game, but he said he was doing well, so we kind of wanted to give him a chance to go.
"But he wasn't near full strength. Not even close."
Gregg knocked down a couple of free throws in the first quarter, but when he picked up his third personal foul and went to the Clackamas bench with 6:43 to play in the second quarter, his back was too sore for him to continue.
"It was pretty bad," Gregg said. "I tried to play through it, but I couldn't."
Ryan Lewis and Di'Grigorio led Clackamas with 13 points each and Daniel Mahler finished with 10, but the Cavaliers weren't the same team without Gregg on the floor.
"That was a tough one," said Cavs' co-captain Damon Erickson, who chipped in eight points. "Ben's one of the best players in the state, and his size and his all-around game is something that nobody else can really do."
At the same time, Mitchell liked the way his players responded Saturday.
"I thought we battled," he said. "A lot of positive came out of that game. We were a man down — a very important man down — and we stepped up with our back to the wall and cut the lead to five near the end.
"It ended up an 11-point game, but it was a lot closer than that. Other than a couple minutes where Mountainside hit a bunch of 3s, I thought we played well defensively. And offensively, Derek Di'Grigorio really stepped up and showed that he's ready to take a bigger role with the team, so that was exciting to see."
The Cavaliers are scheduled to return to action against Crater in Thursday's opening round of the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
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