BEAVERTON – Clackamas struck the first blow Wednesday night in what promises to be an intriguing series of battles within a deep pool of elite teams in 6A girls basketball this season.
The No. 2 Cavaliers went on the road for a 42-38 win over No. 1 and reigning state champion Beaverton, ending the Beavers' winning streak at 23.
The victory avenged two losses to Beaverton from last season, including one in the state semifinals, and made a strong case that Clackamas is the early favorite in 6A.
“It's definitely kind of a marker of our progress, a mini-milestone,” Clackamas senior post Eliza Buerk said. “But this is our second game of the season, so we're nowhere near done. This one doesn't matter right now. What matters is that we win in March.”
University of Portland-bound senior guard Rhyan Mogel had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists to lead the Cavaliers (2-0). Sophomore guard Avery Peterson added 10 points and five rebounds for the Cavaliers, who took the lead for good late in the second quarter.
With most of last year's team back, and some key additions, Clackamas' ceiling appears limitless.
“It just depends on us and how much we want to lock in and buy into our non-negotiables, our goals for each other,” said Mogel, who missed most of last season while recovering from a torn ACL. “It's really kind of on us. To get this type of win early on is good, but it shows we've got to keep working.”
The Cavaliers won even though their star player, 6-foot-1 sophomore wing Jazzy Davidson, was not at 100 percent as she recovers from illness.
Davidson, widely regarded as the top sophomore in the nation, returned to practice after a long layoff Tuesday and came off the bench in her first game Wednesday. She made 1 of 8 shots and scored three points, well off her team-leading 22.8 average from last season.
“I was out for a few weeks,” Davidson said. “I had COVID and the flu and a sinus infection. I was laying in bed, just doing everything I could to be ready for this game. I'm so happy that I'm back and I could contribute to the win.”
Davidson showed some rust, unable to finish shots that have been routine for her.
“My cardio, it's pretty good, it's just my shot wasn't falling,” she said. “Last night was really the first time I shot a ball in a few weeks. It was a little rough, but I'm just happy we got the win and everyone played really well.”
Davidson's presence provided an emotional lift for the team.
“It says a lot about her, coming out and not feeling her best,” Peterson said. “I think we were all just wanting to play good for her. She showed a lot tonight.”
The Cavaliers were encouraged that they could win at Beaverton (3-1) without Davidson being at full strength.
“Just knowing that we don't need her to carry us,” Buerk said. “She's a phenomenal asset, and when she's at the peak of her ability, that's when we're all going to peak.”
Clackamas, which lost to Beaverton 50-44 at the POA Holiday Classic and 41-28 in the 6A semifinals last season, came out on fire Wednesday. The Cavaliers made their first six shots, including four three-pointers, and led 20-8 late in the first quarter.
“They were ready,” Beaverton coach Kathy Naro said of the Cavaliers. “They're so talented and they're deep. They have so many different kids that can score.”
But Clackamas went cold, and the Beavers went on a 14-0 run to lead 22-20 late in the second quarter. The Beavers got three-pointers from senior guards Zoe Borter and Madison Naro and junior guard Indie Browning in the surge.
The Cavaliers responded by scoring the last seven points of the first half to lead 27-22. Peterson scored on a drive and hit a three-pointer off an assist from sophomore guard Sara Barhoum to finish the half.
Clackamas led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter. Beaverton went on a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter – pulling within 40-38 on a layup by senior forward Lainey Spear with 54 seconds remaining – but Buerk hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to clinch the win.
The 6-1 Spear, the 6A player of the year last season, led the Beavers with 19 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Borter added 11 points and four assists.
Beaverton shot 31.8 percent (14 for 44), including 6 of 25 from three-point range. The Beavers missed their first 11 shots in the third quarter, six of them from deep.
“A lot of them, we were not hard to guard,” Naro said. “There's a lot for us to grow from this game. We can learn from this and it can be a gift down the line. We got exposed.
“It's a great win for Clackamas. They did a lot of really good things. But we just settled offensively. A lot of standing around, a lot of shooting threes. But I thought they beat us. They outplayed us.”