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The Cavaliers all but locked up the Mt. Hood Conference's third and final automatic berth into the OSAA Class 6A girls basketball playoffs

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Clackamas guard Kalli So drives around David Douglas' Anitina Bilibei during the first quarter of Tuesday's Mt. Hood Conference girls basketball game at Clackamas High School.The Clackamas Cavaliers combined some high-pressure defense with an opportunistic offense and came up with a winning formula against the David Douglas Scots on Tuesday night.

Sydney Benedict and Anya Henderson scored 13 points each and the Cavaliers rolled to a 52-36 victory over the visiting Scots for their fifth Mt. Hood Conference win in six games.

Ava Peterson added eight points and the Clackamas capitalized on 22 David Douglas turnovers as the Cavaliers (12-10, 9-3 Mt. Hood) led wire-to-wire and took over sole possession of third place with only two games remaining in the regular season.

Paige Collins led David Douglas with 13 points and Marake Wondwossen scored 10 for the Scots (13-9, 8-4), who settled for a split in the two-game series with the Cavaliers while losing for only the second time in seven games.

Scots guard Jenna Stradley, the team's leading scorer, sat out the game with flu-like symptoms.

"In the fourth quarter, we had opportunities to stay in the game," Scots coach Chris Cavanaugh said. "We were at the rim and missed a couple there, and we had a few free throws that could have kept us within reach and we just didn't convert.

"We knew it was going to be a physical game. Both teams are pretty even in terms of our height and everything else, so we were ready for a physical game and I thought we showed up pretty well, but we didn't get the baskets we needed."

Quick start

Clackamas set the tone early on defense, applying full-court pressure that forced eight turnovers on David Douglas' first 11 possessions, fulling a 9-2 run by the Cavaliers to open the game.

The Scots crept within a point, 14-13, when Candace Reddix knocked down one of two free throws with 3:30 to play in the second quarter, but Clackamas responded with a 7-5 run to close the half and take a 21-18 lead into the break.

Wondwossen kept David Douglas within striking distance when she scored a transition lay-up with an assist from Shayla Slossar that cut the Clackamas lead to 29-24 with 2:45 to play in the third quarter.

Again, the Cavaliers answered with Sophie Schweitzer converting two free throws and Benedict knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to close out the third quarter and push the led to 37-24.

"We wanted to put a lot of pressure on David Douglas," Cavaliers coach Korey Landolt said. "At this point in the season, there are random, tired legs, and we should be in shape, but can we press the whole game?

"When I looked at the scoreboard and we were up 10, it was like, 'Alright, now we don't have to press and we can try to protect our basket a little bit more.'"

Collins made two free throws to pull David Douglas within 39-31 with 5:20 remaining, but that was as close as the Scots could get down the stretch.

Missing piece

Not having Stradley, the 5-foot-8 senior who had a game-high 16 points in a 47-43 David Douglas home win on Jan. 28, also forced the Scots out of their comfort zone.

"She's out sick, which obviously hurts," Cavanaugh said. "We say everybody has the same responsibilities, but she's our leading scorer. It would have been nice to have had her, but … we did the best we could."

Clackamas had prepared as if Stradley would be in the lineup and then adjusted accordingly.

"I think they definitely missed their shooter, but their kids play so stinkin' hard, they get after it on defense and they definitely caused us some frustrations that affected our decision making a little bit," Landolt said. "Even without her, they're still a tough team.

"David Douglas has fast athletes and they get through a press really nicely. But we thought maybe that's a gamble we should take and try to rush them a little bit and try to not let them come down and run a set and feel comfortable about what they're doing."

Playoff picture

With the win, the Cavaliers virtually locked up the Mt. Hood's third and final automatic berth into the Class 6A playoffs, assuming they don't stumble in the two games remaining against Gresham and Reynolds — teams with a combined 2-22 record in league play.

"When you look at the power rankings, we needed to get this game so try and get any little boost we could," Landolt said. "To get this one, to seal that we're going to state because we're top three, that's what we put on this game. It was like 'Hey, there's the potential that we might not make the playoffs if we don't win this game.'

"We put that out there, that's it's not guaranteed, but it's guaranteed if we get to third."

David Douglas plays Friday at Barlow and then closes out the regular season on Tuesday at home against Gresham. The Scots are assured of finishing no worse than fourth and their playoff hopes rest on their power ranking, which currently stands at No. 27.

"We've opened the playoffs against Southridge the last two years and when I looked before tonight's game, we were matched up with them again," Cavanaugh said. "We finish strong and I think we'll be OK in terms of making the playoffs.

"Right now, we've got 13 wins, which is the most in 10 years for our program, but we're not content yet, so we'll see."

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