Men’s basketball returns in style

The Clackamas Community College’s men’s basketball team opened the season Nov. 16 and find themselves with a 2-0 record after defeating Pacific University’s JV 101-70 on Nov. 16 and Multnomah University JV 106-73 on Nov. 17.

The Cougars have a lot of new faces this season, just returning four players from the 2017-18 squad that made it to the NWAC playoffs.

“I like the group of kids,” head coach Clif Wegner said during practice on Nov. 15. “I think the chemistry is good. I think the skill level is good. We’re very inexperienced and very young, a lot of new faces. It’ll take a while to learn, adapt, acclimate and adjust, but I think by the time league comes around in January we’ll be competitive with most the top NWAC teams.”

The Cougars added a lot of homegrown talent this offseason with eight of the 10 freshmen coming from Oregon. Freshman guard Robert Ford helped Jefferson High School to back-to-back state finals appearances, winning it all in 2017. Redshirt freshman post Matt O’Brien was a part of the Clackamas HS team that was beat by Jefferson in the 2017 Finals 67-70.

Now on the same team, O’Brien and Ford helped the Cougars dominate in their opening game versus Pacific. Ford was red hot to start the contest, shooting 6-7 from the field and 3-3 from beyond the three-point arc in the first half. O’Brien added 6 points of his own with an exclamation point coming when he threw down a ferocious dunk over Pacific defenders. Sophomore Adam Gehrig led Clackamas in scoring in the first half with 17 and Clackamas went into halftime leading Pacific 55-33.

“I think we’re going to have a good season,” O’Brien said. “We came out strong today, obviously it’s not a league opponent, but we came out strong, we played well together and finished a good win.”

The second half was more of the same as Clackamas continued their dominance. Gehrig finished the night with 30 points, Ford stayed hot finishing with 23 points on 8-9 shooting from the field and was perfect from downtown with going 5-5. Ford didn’t just look to score though as he led the Cougars with 16 rebounds, and recorded nine assists, falling one short of a triple-double. Wegner said he’d never seen a point guard rebound like that before.

“I just like to help my team win,” Ford said. “I just got a little sparkle for the ball or something, I just like playing.”

Currently Ford leads the entire NWAC in total rebounds with 25, averaging 12.5 rebounds per game.

Clackamas’ dominance carried over to their second game of the weekend versus Multnomah. Putting up 102 shots, the Cougars cruised to a 106-73 victory. Led by freshman forward Tariq Harris and Gerhig’s 19 points a piece. Freshman post Mathias Nchekawube added 18 points and 10 rebounds to record his second double-double of the year after his 10 points, 11 rebounds performance against Pacific. Ford also recorded his second double-double with a 13 points and 13 assists.

“It feels really good to be back,” Gehrig said. “New team, everyone’s better it’s great. Chemistry’s already there, it feels like we’re in mid-season form.”

The Cougars will travel to Lakewood, Washington Friday to take on Bellevue College in the Pierce College Tournament at 6 p.m.

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Jacob Thompson