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The Cavaliers - top-ranked in the latest coaches poll - come up short in their MHC opener.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Clackamas freshman Sara Barhoum (shown here against Benson) scored 13 points in her team's 50-44 loss to Barlow at Barlow High School on Wednesday, Jan. 5.The Clackamas girls basketball team has already played a bunch of huge games in the 2021-22 season.

The Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in the most recent Class 6A coaches poll, knocked off preseason No. 1 South Medford in their opener. They've also beaten Jesuit (ranked third and fourth in the OSAA and coaches rankings) and Benson (the 2019 state champion), and pushed powerful Beaverton (ranked first and second by the OSAA and coaches) to the end in the POA Holiday Classic.

Clackamas faced another big game and another stellar opponent in its Mt. Hood Conference opener, too, but this time, that opponent — talented Barlow — was up to the task. The Bruins racked up a double-digit first-half lead, survived a furious Cavalier comeback in the second half and held on to win 50-44 at Barlow High School on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

"The loss hurts, but we will use the adversity as fuel to continue improving as a team," said Clackamas freshman guard Sara Barhoum, who scored 13 points in the loss. "Credit to Barlow. They played great, (but) we will learn from the loss, and ultimately, be better for it."

"Right now, this doesn't feel the greatest, but looking forward, I think losing … (to Beaverton and Barlow) will really help us find our weak points and gives us the opportunity to fix them super early on in the season," said freshman guard/wing Jazzy Davidson, who led her team with 21 points.

With the loss, the Cavaliers' second straight, Clackamas fell to 0-1 in MHC play and 9-2 overall. Barlow — second in the OSAA rankings and fifth in the coaches poll — won for the sixth straight time and improved to 1-0 in the MHC and 9-2 overall.

"This win is really great for us," said Barlow junior wing/guard Anni Koenig, who scored 11 points in the win, including four straight foul shots in the fourth quarter. "We are continuing to get challenged and get better every day. To prove to ourselves that we can beat a really great team is huge."

"In the fourth quarter, the Cavs narrowed the lead to a one-possession game multiple times, but (we) hung on to the lead, knocking down 11 of 14 (free throws) in the fourth quarter alone," said Barlow coach Nick Hudson.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Clackamas freshman Jazzy Davidson (shown here against Benson) scored a team-high 21 points in her team's 50-44 loss to Barlow at Barlow High School on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

The Bruins were led by junior guard/wing Kennedie Shuler's 27 points — she sank 7 of 10 foul shots in the fourth quarter — and Koenig's 11.

The Bruins showed they were ready right from the opening tip on Wednesday, blasting out to an 11-0 lead with Shuler going off for 10 points in the first quarter.

Suitably shocked awake, the Cavaliers responded with a 10-2 run that cut the Barlow lead to 13-10 at the end of the period, with Davidson banking five points, senior guard Liv Shackleton hitting a 3-pointer and freshman guard/forward Reyce Mogel adding two points.

Clackamas continued its solid play in the second quarter, but Barlow finished with a flourish in the final 90 seconds and pushed its lead to 34-23 at the half. Shuler stayed hot with another eight points — including back-to-back "threes" late in the half — while senior guard/wing Melanie Hiu hit a 3-pointer of her own and scored five points in the frame.

Barhoum kept her team competitive with a 3-pointer and five points in the second quarter, while Davidson tacked on another four.

While the Bruins' offense had run relatively unchecked in the first half, the Cavaliers turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter and battled back into contention.

Davidson and Barhoum handled all the third-quarter scoring for Clackamas, with Davidson hitting three times from the field and scoring eight points, while Barhoum drained another "three" and scored five points in the period.

At the other end, the Cavaliers absolutely put the clamps on the Bruins' previously potent offense, holding Barlow to just five points in the period and closing within 39-36 heading into the fourth.

The game remained close most of the way in the final quarter, too, with Clackamas closing within two points several times before the Bruins salted the game away at the foul line late, with Shuler hitting 7 of 10 free throws and Koenig all four of her tries to put the game on ice.

"I think the key to our win was staying composed," Koenig added. "They kept trying to make runs toward the end, but we were able to continue playing our game and stick together."

"We didn't start the game with the right energy and intensity. We got in a hole and had to dig ourselves out," Barhoum added. "I'm proud of my teammates for the way we battled back, but unfortunately we came up short. We just need to control the tempo and play at our pace. We did that in stretches today, but not for all 32 minutes."

Hiu finished with five points for Barlow while junior teammate Rilyn Quirke added four. For Clackamas, Shackleton finished with five points.

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