PORTLAND – Just in case anyone needed an illustration of the vast potential of freshman-dominated Clackamas, the Cavaliers provided one on the state's biggest stage Thursday.
Starting four freshmen and one junior, No. 5 seed Clackamas ran No. 4 Lakeridge off the court 70-48 in the quarterfinals of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A girls basketball tournament at the Chiles Center.
The Cavaliers (26-2) sizzled in the first quarter, making 11 of 16 shots to take a 28-8 lead, and pushed the lead to 30 points before coasting through the fourth quarter with a running clock. They advance to Friday's semifinals to play No. 1 Beaverton.
“We brought a lot of our own energy today,” freshman guard Jazzy Davidson said. “We were super up for each other the whole game, and it was really fun.”
Unfazed by the environment, Clackamas was clicking on all cylinders early against Lakeridge (22-5). Davidson and freshman point guard Avery Peterson scored eight points apiece in the first quarter as the Cavaliers opened a 20-point lead.
“We were making all of our shots and hyping each other up,” said Peterson, who finished with a team-high 17 points, shooting 4 of 5 from three-point range. “It felt really nice to be out there. It just feels like we're just gliding and connecting. It's awesome.”
Clackamas shot 50 percent for the game, including 8 of 19 on three-pointers. Eliza Buerk, a 6-foot-3 junior, had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-1 Davidson had 12 points and 10 rebounds and freshman guard Sara Barhoum made three three-pointers and scored 12 points.
Cavaliers coach Korey Landolt liked how her players responded to their first state-tournament experience.
“I keep hearing that this team is really inexperienced, but we battled with some of the top teams in the state, and that gives us more experience than somebody who's been here before, potentially,” Landolt said. “Entering into playoff basketball I think was a big deal, and now they're just on a little bit of a ride.”
The Cavaliers played fast and free in the first half, shooting 63 percent to lead 48-24. They pushed the ball up the court in transition and moved it crisply, keeping the Pacers on their heels. Their success seemed to become contagious.
“Definitely the ups were really good,” Peterson said. “It felt really nice with the crowd. But it was just us having each other's backs all the time.”
Three Rivers League champion Lakeridge, appearing in the tournament for the first time in 17 years, couldn't slow down the Cavaliers.
“They played faster than we were probably ready for,” Pacers coach Jason Brown said. “The moment got to some of us. They put a lot of pressure on the ball.”
The Pacers showed their deep shooting range – making 10 of 22 three-point attempts – but shot 27.7 percent from the field (13 of 47). Junior wing Keelie O'Hollaren made four three-pointers and scored 18 points and senior point guard Reese Ericson had 13 points and eight assists, but they couldn't keep up with the Clackamas onslaught.
“They're a great team,” Ericson said. “They're going to be good in the next four years. I wish we would've had this one, but they play so hard and they play really well together. They know each other's game. I've played with some of those girls, and it's cool to see how far they've come.”
Clackamas has received a lift in the postseason with the return of junior guard Rhyan Mogel, the Mt. Hood Conference player of the year last season. The 5-10 Mogel suffered a torn ACL last summer and sat out until the playoffs.
She played sparingly in the first two playoff rounds. In 10 minutes Thursday, she was aggressive offensively and finished with six points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Mogel, whose freshman sisters Dylan and Reyce are on the team, said “it's been hard” to wait, “but it's so fun to watch this group, and be with them, even if it's on the sideline. It's such a special group, and it's been really nice for me to be with them.”
Landolt said Rhyan Mogel has been progressing nicely in limited minutes.
“I felt like today her reads were way better,” Landolt said. “On Saturday, she just passed. She didn't really attack very hard. This is exactly what we need from her.”
Her presence on the court helps unify the Cavaliers.
“It means a lot,” Davidson said. “We play with her all AAU season, so it's kind of weird not having her. Now that she's back, it feels like everything is coming together again.”
With the win, the Cavaliers ended a string of four quarterfinal losses since finishing second to Jesuit in 2011. They can earn a spot in the final by beating Beaverton, which defeated them 50-44 in the POA Holiday Classic on Dec. 30.
“We came out really slow the last time we played them,” Peterson said. “I think if we came out like we did tonight, I think it'll be a breeze for us.”
The Clackamas freshmen have talked about winning four state titles.
“We definitely want that. That's the goal,” Peterson said.