Bella Garcia sinks winning 3 for Cavaliers
6A GIRLS BASKETBALL
Mount Hood Conference
GRESHAM — Everyone has their favorites — a favorite color, a favorite meal. Basketball shooters have their favorite spots, and Clackamas junior Bella Garcia found hers with the game on the line Tuesday night to lift the Cavaliers to a 53-50 win at Barlow in a battle atop the Mount Hood Conference.
Barlow had just seen the winning layup drop through the net, but had no time to react. Clackamas inbounded the ball in a flash, and senior guard Kiah Wetzell whipped a pass across halfcourt, finding Garcia at the 3-point arc at a 45-degree angle to the hoop.
She didn't hesitate.
While Barlow was still rushing to the defensive end, Garcia fired and hit the winning 3-pointer with only a few ticks left.
"That is usually my shot, so I went for it," Garcia said. "I saw the clock was ticking down, so I just crossed my fingers."
The Bruins had two chances to force overtime, but were unable to get off a desperate heave at the hoop.
The ensuing inbounds pass went off a Bruins' leg and rolled out of bounds into the Clackamas bench with 2.8 seconds left.
The Cavaliers missed two free throws, and Barlow's Annie Koenig chased down the long rebound in the corner. Time expired on her pass to a teammate in the middle of the floor.
The win leaves a three-way tie atop the Mount Hood with Barlow, Clackamas and Central Catholic sharing identical 8-2 league records. The Cavaliers also completed a season sweep of the Bruins.
"Finishing league we need to bring energy and consistency," Clackamas head coach Korey Landolt said. "We weren't perfect last night against Barlow, but we limited their runs and answered when needed."
The teams were rarely more than a bucket apart.
Clackamas found itself up 32-28 early in the second half after Ava Peterson eluded a double team on the perimeter and hit a floater in the lane despite being knocked backward to the floor.
"We had a lot of good energy, and went to our press-breaker, so I wasn't left alone bringing the ball up the floor," Peterson said.
The Cavs took a 40-35 lead into the fourth quarter after Garcia came around a screen by Maddie Tacheny and extended the ball out front for a layup in the lane.
Clackamas took its biggest lead at six points midway through the fourth when Kalli So saw her jumper take a soft hop off the front of the rim and trickle through the net, followed by Sydney Benedict with a 3-point on the team's next trip.
The Bruins cut the gap to a single point twice down the stretch, but Garcia cut through the lane for a layup to put Clackamas up 50-47 with 1:07 to play.
"It was getting frantic, but we did a good job slowing things down and finding the gaps," Garcia said.
Barlow got a free throw from center Libby Mathis, while Clackamas missed at the stripe.
The Bruins sent the ball into Mathis on the block for a chance to tie the game, but a Clackamas double team forced her behind the basket. Mathis attempted an escape pass to the corner, but Anna Henderson picked it off to end the chance.
Barlow created another opportunity when Melanie Hiu came up with a steal at midcourt and raced away for a tying layup with 14.2 seconds left.
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CLACKAMAS 12 16 12 13 — 53
Clackamas (53) — Bella Garcia 13, Benedict 11, Henderson 10, Peterson 9, So 4, Tacheny 4, Wetzell 2, Schweitzer, Vancil.
Barlow (50) — Kennedie Shuler 18, Hiu 9, Mathis 8, Fortin 7, Koenig 4, Barden 4, Miller, Bradley, Quirke.
This story is scheduled for our Feb. 19, print edition.
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