Clackamas downs West Linn 75-60, locks up Schwab consolation title
The Clackamas Cavaliers walked out of Liberty High School with their heads held high after clinching the consolation title at the 24th annual Les Schwab Invitational.
The Cavaliers lost to 5A powerhouse Crater in the tournament opener, then bounced back with consecutive wins over Battle Ground, Wilsonville, and West Linn, locking up the consolation title in the annual 16-team holiday prep basketball showcase for the second time in seven seasons.
Clackamas' Ben Gregg grabbed the spotlight in the finale, scoring a game-high 35 points with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocked shots to pace the Cavaliers to a 75-60 win over West Linn.
Izzy Baker added 11 points and Ryan Lewis finished with 10 points and four assists to help Clackamas improve to 7-2 overall.
"I think what we did shows a lot of resiliency from our guys," said Gregg, the Cavaliers' 6-foot-9 junior forward who was named to the all-tournament team. "When the first game didn't go the way we wanted, we just wanted to bounce back.
"Winning the consolation championship… I mean, I know it's consolation, but going 3-1 in this tournament is pretty remarkable. There are no easy games in this tournament, at all. So, the fact that we went 3-1 says a lot about our team."
Added Clackamas coach Cameron Mitchell: "I'm blown away by these kids, to be honest. Today was just a complete showcase of Ben Gregg and our team and what we could be. I'm just so happy for them that they get to experience this."
Dialing long distance
Gregg set the tone against West Linn when he connected twice from beyond the 3-point arc to open the game, sparking an 18-6 run.
After West Linn's Micah Garrett knocked down two free throws to start the second quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 13-5 run that ended with Baker making one of two free throws to push the lead to 21-13 with 3:24 to play in the half.
The Lions opened the third quarter on a 14-6 run that cut the Clackamas lead to 12 points, 46-34, but the Cavaliers countered with a 14-4 burst that made it 60-38 and all but put the game out of reach for the end of the third quarter.
"We executed really well," said Lewis, the Cavs' junior forward. "Even though West Linn made a bit of a comeback in the second half, we played really well as a team."
Clackamas' K.J. Horsley finished with eight points and five rebounds, and Jackson Jaha provided a spark off the bench with seven points and five assists for the Cavaliers, who shot a blistering 65.9 percent (29 for 44) from the field with 23 assists.
"Everybody who played did a lot of positive things and didn't do many negative things," Mitchell said. "That's kind of what you want.
"To lose the first game and then come back and win three in a row is incredible. It's honestly, incredible, especially with the teams we played. I mean West Linn is really good. Wilsonville is really good. Battle Ground is really good."
Coincidently, Gregg, considered one of the top Division I prospects in the class of 2021, played his best game on the final day of the tournament with Oregon coach Dana Altman and Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle both sitting courtside.
"It's cool that the coaches are there," Gregg said. "It's really cool for me, personally. I mean, it's a dream of mine to play college basketball for one of those guys, so it's cool that they're coming and watching us play.
"But when the game starts, all that stuff goes away and you're just playing basketball."
Gregg also has been hampered by a sore back since the season started, but looked fine knocking down 14 of 20 shots from the field with three 3-pointers against West Linn.
"I'm a little banged up, but winning three games in this tournament helps ease the pain a little bit," Gregg said. "This was a big game for us. Going 2-2 would have been good, but to go 3-1 is great.
"Coach Mitchell did a great job hyping us up before the game. I don't want to say West Linn was flat, but we definitely showed that we had more energy than them in the first half when we opened a 20-point lead."
In four LSI games, Clackamas averaged 63.8 points a game and shot 47.8 percent from the field. The Cavaliers' opponents averaged 60.8 points and shot 44.8 percent.
Gregg averaged a team-high 26.8 points a game and ranked third in tournament scoring behind Crater's Nate Bittle (29.0) and Barlow's Evan Inglesby (27.5). He also averaged 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while Horsley averaged a tourney-high 2.3 steals per game.
"I have high expectations for these guys, for sure," Mitchell said. "And, yes, this tournament has raised them a little bit. I loved our energy as far as staying positive, staying together, guys not really getting on each other, and competing really hard. It's been really awesome to see all that.
"Obviously, I think we're improving and I think we're heading in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go."
CRATER 71, CLACKAMAS 54: Bittle scored 41 points on 18-for-25 shooting with 14 rebounds, three blocked shots, and a pair of steals, leading the Comets of Central Point over the Cavaliers in the Dec. 26 tournament opener.
Gregg finished with 21 points to lead four Clackamas players in double figures.
After Clackamas' Damon Erickson scored on lay-up to give the Cavaliers a 29-26 lead with 5:08 to play in the second quarter, Crater closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a 37-33 lead into halftime.
Crater had a 57-50 lead at the end of the third quarter and then Bittle, the 6-11 junior post, hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored again on a lay-up to make it 65-50 with 4:39 to play.
CLACKAMAS 63, BATTLE GROUND 59: Gregg led all scorers with 32 points and Ryan Lewis added 10 for the Cavaliers, who rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the third quarter to knock off the Tigers from Battle Ground, Washington.
After Battle Ground's Nate Millspaugh connected from beyond the 3-point arc to give the Tigers a 40-29 lead, Clackamas went on a 20-4 run that ended with Gregg scoring on a lay-up to give the Cavaliers a 49-44 lead with just under a minute to play in the third quarter.
Battle Ground regained a 52-51 lead on Kaden Perry's two free throws with 5:26 remaining, but the Cavaliers answered with a 7-0 run that was capped by two Gregg free throws to take a 58-52 lead with 2:42 to play.
The Tigers pulled within a point, 58-57, on Brendan Beall's 3-pointer with 1:33 left, but Gregg turned around and drilled a trey at the other end that helped put the game out of reach with 1:17 remaining.
CLACKAMAS 63, WILSONVILLE 53: Gregg knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:09 left in the fourth quarter, sparking a 20-9 run the carried the Cavaliers past the defending 5A state champion Wildcats in the Dec. 28 consolation semifinals.
Gregg finished with a team-high 21 points, Horsley scored 13, and Erickson and Lewis added 11 each for the Cavaliers in a game that featured eight ties and four lead changes.
Gabe Reichle led all scorers with 22 points and Andrew Classen added 13 points for the Wildcats.
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