#5 Barlow vs #2 Clackamas: Who Draws First Blood In The Mt. Hood Conference?

In one of the most anticipated pairings of the winter, the #2 Clackamas Cavaliers (9-1) travel to Gresham to face the fifth ranked Barlow Bruins (8-2) in a Wednesday night primetime showdown. The winner will gain early control of a top-heavy Mt. Hood Conference, with their February 2nd rematch in Clackamas serving as a potential conference championship game. These two teams are not only battling for a Mt. Hood title, but both are sizeable contenders for the state championship and have their stake to argue for why they can win it all at the Chiles Center. Here’s what you need to know for this star-studded matchup Wednesday night in Gresham:

Star Power

Freshman phenom Jazzy Davidson will lead the charge for Clackamas, while Barlow has a stud star in junior Kennedie Shuler. Davidson is a star in the post for the Cavaliers, displaying an ability to do just about anything from rebounding to shooting threes, making her a high-level threat for any opponent. Shuler has a two-way ability from the wing, regularly picking up a double-double with her uncanny ability to score and rebound. It’s unique to witness a guard with such a high motor and threat on the floor, making Shuler a must watch player for the Bruins. Both players made sizeable impressions at the Portland Holiday Classic, shining on the statewide stage against some of the best competition in 6A, making this matchup all the more enticing.

Who’s Helping?

Davidson might be the phenom, but she certainly doesn’t do it alone. Fellow freshman star Dylan Mogel and junior post Eliza Buerk help create a great triple threat for the Cavaliers, with both players having two-way abilities on the floor. Both have the ability to drill threes but can also drive or hit you in the mid-range. Defensively, they both have high basketball IQ’s that shine in multi-dimensional fashion. Whether it’s putting up suffocating pressure, throwing up a block, or snatching the ball, they make life difficult for whoever they get paired with on the court.

As part of a loaded guard squad, Barlow has plenty of assistance beside Shuler in Annie Koenig, Lindsay Barden, and Olivia Payne. Koenig is the most consistent between the latter group, regularly putting up double digit point totals and dominating some statistical category on the defensive side. Koenig and Shuler make one of the best guard combos in the state. Payne and Barden can be a bit streaky with contribution, but they go off whenever they are on it. Coming off the bench, they can be consistent offensively and put pressure on opposing backups, something that opponents must circle as part of their scouting report on the Bruins.

Final Thoughts And Prediction

Unless Davidson goes full Candace Parker and dominates Barlow, then this one will be a one or two possession game. Barlow’s defense is weaker than Clackamas, but I like Barlow’s offensive balance better than the Cavaliers reliability on their freshman phenom for production. In essence, this one will be a back-and-forth game or one where a team takes control but cannot breakaway for the dub. The best individual pairing will be Dylan Mogel vs Kennedie Shuler, a showdown between two strong players that have strengths coming to an ultimate clash. In the end, this one could go either direction and come down to who makes more mistakes or executes better.

Prediction: Clackamas by 4

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