The Saints topped the arch-rival Clackamas Community College Cougars Wednesday night, 96-81, pulling Mt. Hood back to within one game of the fourth and final playoff spot in the NWAC South Division.
Wednesday’s contest was a perfect example of how good the Saints men can be when they play at their best.
In the previous matchup, Clackamas beat Mt. Hood, 68-62, at Clackamas. That game was even in almost every category, but one: second-chance points. Clackamas outscored the Saints, 21-11, in that category.
It’s something Mt. Hood entered the game on Wednesday with the intent to stop. Saints sophomore forward Luke Anderson said, “They got two big guys, they have more size than us. We knew they were going to pound it inside on us… So we knew we were going to need to be big and strong and have to rebound.”
Though the Cougars did outrebound the Saints by 16 boards, total, Mt. Hood found a way to prevent them from turning those into second-chance points. In the end, both teams finished with 15 second-chance points.
What’s more, Mt. Hood found a huge advantage in getting down court quick to score. Its what they’ve been working on all season, and Wednesday night, the players and fans saw it in full effect.
“I felt we played really good today as a team, sharing the ball and getting out in transition, which is something we haven’t been doing as of lately,” Anderson said. “So, that felt good. (We) got some easy buckets.”
Sophomore forward Cody Thompson played a big role in leading the team to a win. He scored 22 points, pulled down six rebounds, and had two steals. Maybe most impressive, he did so on 10-of-16 shooting. Sophomore guard Elijah Fuller added 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
It seemed like the whole team shot well, as they finished with a 54 percent field-goal percentage, compared to Clackamas’s 38 percent.
The Saints chose a good day to shoot as well as they did, as the win kept their playoff hopes alive. It won’t be easy for them to take the fourth spot in their division, but its possible. The South currently shows a tight race for the final two playoff spots with four games remaining on the season.
Basically, Mt. Hood, 5-7 in the South, needs to win out the season and have a few dominoes fall into place, in order to make the playoffs.
After their loss, Clackamas is in third place with a 6-5 record. Tied for fourth are Clark and Linn-Benton, both at a record of 6-6. In sixth place is Portland, with a 5-6 record. And then, tied for seventh with Mt. Hood, is Southwestern Oregon, also at 5-7.
It’s not all bad news for the Saints. Their remaining schedule includes three of the five teams they’re battling for that playoff spot. If they win all three of those matchups and they top last-place Lane, they just might squeak in.
Certainly, Mt. Hood hasn’t given up hope yet. Anderson said, “We’re all staying positive, we just gotta take it one game at a time. That’s all we can do, we can’t worry about our last game or winning all five at once.
“We just have to win one at a time, and I think we can do it.”
Mean while on the Womens side, they lost their 11th straight game Wednesday, falling to Clackamas 60-34. They are now 1-11 in NWAC play with four games left on their season.