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The Cavaliers cut a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to five before their comeback ran out of steam Friday at Westview High School

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Clackamas forward Sydney Benedict tries to power her way to the basket between Westview defenders Afton Keeney (23) and Danielle Llamas (3) in the first half Friday.Westview's Afton Keeney scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the second half to lift the Wildcats to a 47-39 non-conference girls basketball home win Friday over the Clackamas Cavaliers.

Danielle Llamas finished with eight points, and Alison Kantor and Claryn Keeney added seven each to help send the Wildcats (4-6) to their third consecutive win.

"I think we're really turning things around," said Afton Keeney, the Wildcats' junior post. "There's not just a change in terms of the wins and losses we've been going through. There's a change in what we're feeling, how good we're feeling about everyone, and really becoming a team is what started as a rebuilding year."

Clackamas' Sydney Benedict scored a team-high 10 points and was the only player to score in double figures for the Cavaliers (3-6), who lost for the third time in five games.

"I think our cold offense was a huge key," Cavaliers coach Korey Landolt said. "Shots that I feel we should have knocked down weren't going for us and we were a little rushed in our offense.

"I felt like we were setting up and then taking the first available shot versus working for a better shot and making Westview really work on defense."

Westview coach Kevin McElroy, the former Milwaukie head coach, started a young lineup with one senior, one junior, and three sophomores.

The lineup also featured the 6-foot-3 Kantor, the Keeney sisters — 5-11 Afton and 5-10 Claryn — and 5-6 Sydney Kleine, giving the Wildcats a significant height advantage against Clackamas at almost every position except point guard.

The undersized Cavaliers thought twice about taking the ball to the basket during a slow-paced first quarter that ended with Westview leading 9-5.

Clackamas' Jenny Pham knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc that cut Westview's lead to 11-8 early in the second quarter, but then the Wildcats closed the half on a 14-8 run to take a 25-16 lead at the break.

Encouraging signs

The Cavaliers crept back within five points, 32-27, when Sophie Schweitzer converted a pair of free throws with 1:41 to play in the third quarter, but the Wildcats scored the last six points of the third and the first three points of the fourth to open their largest lead at 41-27 with 5:22 to play.

Clackamas then put together an impressive 12-3 run that was fueled by six Westview turnovers and ended with Anna Henderson knocking down a pair of free throws to lift the Cavaliers within five points, 44-39, with a minute to play.

Westview squashed the comeback by forcing a couple of Clackamas turnovers and making three of four free throws in the final 35 seconds to seal the win.

"Everything kind of got better in the second half, for the most part," Landolt said. "We made a couple of adjustments defensively at halftime, and in the end there was that sense of urgency that we had to get out and press them and force them into some turnovers."

If Landolt could have changed one thing Friday, she would have liked to see the Cavaliers hit the floor running.

"Our identity has been a little bit of 'slow-go' at the beginning and then we finally figure out how to turn it on," she said. "So the task set before us now is: How do we get going when the tip happens versus taking five minutes to really rev up or get over our jitters or whatever it is?

"We're nine games in, so we should be able to settle in and have a more positive mindset about what we're doing. Every now and again, uncertainty rears its ugly head and we panic versus playing with confidence.

"We're working through it. We're going to get there."

The Cavaliers were scheduled to play their final non-conference game Tuesday at Jesuit (7-3) and then open Mt. Hood Conference play Friday on the road against Sandy (3-6).

"I wish that we were a little more consistent with our effort," Landolt said. "But when those girls turn their minds right and all five of them are ready to execute, I think we're pretty dang good.

"We just have to really kick away those little, ugly moments that tend to creep into every game we've had, even the games we won. I'm definitely encouraged and I think we can play more consistently. Tonight, we weren't there yet."

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