Cougars clinch playoff berth

Clackamas Community College’s men’s basketball team picked up a crucial win on Feb. 27 against Mt. Hood Community College 96-86. The win ended up being the deciding factor in the South Region playoff race, giving Clackamas the final South Region playoff spot.

Clackamas jumped out to a quick lead over Mt. Hood, led by the shooting of freshman swingman Clay Sullivan, who scored eight points in the first six minutes of the game. The Cougars came into the game knowing it wasn’t going to be an easy game.

Adam Gehrig, the only sophomore starter on the team, said, “We knew it was a big win, a big night especially for Mt. Hood with their coach retiring. We knew we had to come out

with energy.”

The Cougars had a mid-season dip in their play after losing three games in a row against Umpqua, Linn-Benton and Chemeketa.

Head coach Clif Wegner said, “We got our heads handed to us at Umpqua and that was a tremendous slap in the face with our confidence. I feel like we kinda staggered out of that one, and we didn’t just get beat, we got our butts kicked, and I think we lost some confidence. With a roster of 10 freshman, there’s gonna be a growing up process. I feel like we’ve matured and I think these guys can’t think of themselves as fresh man any more.”

Freshman Devon Banks said the season had its ups and downs.

“The coach does a good job of making sure we all stay together, because we went down a couple of times,” said Banks. “We just gotta stay focused and know what we wanna do. We already know how good we are we just gotta take it one by one.”

That’s exactly what the Cougars did in their game against Mt. Hood, as they took the lead for good with less than eight minutes to spare.

Freshman guard Robert Ford hit a clutch three to put the game out of reach for the Saints.

“It was actually during a play called spread,” Ford said.

“We were spreading the floor. Once I got the ball, I kinda just stepped back and I saw his man go with him, so I just shot.” Wegner said, “Our kids really stepped up in the second half. We did a tremendous job managing the free throw situation and that’s an important game goal. [Mt. Hood] is the best free throw shooting team in the NWACC. They shoot the highest percentage at 78 percent. I don’t think we have one guy shooting 7 8 percent.”

Clackamas will play North Idaho (27-2, 16-0) in the first round of the NWAC playoffs on March 7 at 1 0 a.m.