No. 6 Clackamas suffered their first league loss, 51-36, to the hands of No. 2 Oregon City on Friday night.
The final score doesn’t characterize how competitive the game was. Clackamas trailed just 40-36 with five minutes left in the game. However, the Cavaliers didn’t score a basket the rest of the game and only scored two points in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers have played five games against teams ranked in the top ten in the state by the media poll. The Cavaliers are 1-4 in those games. The record, like the score against Oregon City, doesn’t tell the whole story though.
Clackamas led No. 4 Beaverton 40-32 before the Beavers went on a 17-2 run to finish the game to win 49-42. The Cavaliers stayed close with Beaverton again in the Nike Interstate Shootout, losing 46-38. They beat fellow sixth-ranked Glencoe 46-37 in the final game of the Interstate Shootout. The only game that wasn’t competitive was their 77-43 loss to No. 5 St. Mary’s in the second game of the season.
Head coach Todd Lane’s team isn’t overwhelmed in the big games. In fact, they’ve shown they can hang with any team in the state. The one missing piece is closing out games. Lane said finishing has been a focused area of improvement throughout the first half of the season. Like previous close losses, he said his team will learn from Friday night’s lesson.
It was a very competitive game. It kind of got away from your team in the fourth quarter. What do you think the reason was for that?
“We missed some free throws that could have kept it close. Then, they were able to get a couple three-point plays on back-to-back possessions. We kind of over-rotated on defense. A girl got behind us. She made a shot, got a foul. A potential four-point game becomes a nine-point game. Against a team like Oregon City, if you score 36 points in three and a half quarters, you’re not going to be able to score 12 in a minute and a half. That’s kind of what happened.”
Was there anything Oregon City was doing defensively to slow your team down during the run?
“I thought they played really hard defensively. I don’t think they did anything to throw us off. They played hard defensively, like they always do. But, we missed shots. We had good opportunities and good looks, and we didn’t make them. That’s us. They had opportunities and they made them. That’s the difference.”
What was going so well at the beginning of the second half when you’re team went on a 7-0 run to trail just 33-31? Was it simply the shots were falling or was something else involved?
“A combo. We came out with some good energy, got a couple quick shots to fall. Our energy picked up then and theirs was a little down. We were able to creep back into the game. We were able to hover for a while, but ultimately we ran out of gas.”
When we talked after the first loss to Beaverton, you said your team just needed more experience in pressure moments. You’ve played four teams that are ranked in the state’s top ten. What has your team learned in those moments?
“To persevere and know that the game is 32 minutes and not two minutes. We were down nine points to start the second half. We realized we don’t have to get it all back in one play. We can chip away and get back in the ball game. That’s what we’ve been learning is to play the whole process out of the game. Just play all 32 minutes instead of trying to get all or nothing like young teams do.”
Do you think that will help in games like tonight when you need to close out a good team?
“I think so. We’ve already been able to do it a couple times since that Beaverton game. Oregon City is a little bit different beast. They’re a very good basketball team who has that closing experience. It’s a learning experience. We’ll learn from it. Hopefully next time we’re in a close game we’ll knock down those shots and stay through the whole 32 minutes.”
Clackamas will get an opportunity to improve on playing a full, consistent 32 minutes when they host Barlow on Tuesday.
Check out photos from the game against Oregon City.