Clackamas junior Jazzy Davidson goes up for two of her 38 points in Friday's win over South Medford. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Clackamas junior Jazzy Davidson goes up for two of her 38 points in Friday's win over South Medford. (Photo by Jon Olson)

CLACKAMAS – Top-ranked Clackamas began pursuit of a repeat 6A girls basketball title Friday night in much the same way it ended last season, with a convincing win over South Medford.

Junior forward Jazzy Davidson scored a career-high 38 points as the Cavaliers rolled past the No. 4 Panthers 67-48 in a rematch of last year's state final, which Clackamas won 56-46.

The 6-foot-1 Davidson, ranked as the No. 2 junior prospect in the nation by ESPN, made two three-pointers for a 6-0 lead. She scored 13 points in the first 3:08 as Clackamas led 14-6. The Cavaliers pushed the advantage as high as 13 points in the first quarter and never trailed.

Davidson surpassed her previous career high of 37 points, set last season against Nelson. She made three three-pointers and scored on an assortment of slashes to the basket, twisting mid-range jumpers and put-backs. The Panthers didn't have an answer for her.

“I thought as a freshman she was the most talented freshman that I'd ever seen, and I would reiterate that she is the most talented junior,” South Medford coach Tom Cole said. “I still think she's the best kid I've seen in 20 years in my tenure. She's very poised, and a very complete player. We knew that she would be a handful.”

Davidson is looking to take another step from last season, when she averaged 22.5 points and was named the 6A player of the year.

“For me, it's just getting better at everything, becoming a better teammate,” Davidson said.

That includes an improved three-point stroke.

“That was a huge emphasis for me to work on after the AAU season,” she said.

Davidson's “ceiling is just so high,” according to Clackamas coach Korey Landolt.

“And she's got the drive to improve little nit-picky parts of her game,” Landolt said. “Her athleticism is awesome. The way she gets balance about herself, she doesn't get knocked off her spot that easily. She finishes crazy shots.”

Despite the comfortable win, Landolt said that “it never felt easy.” South Medford, behind sophomore point guard Taylor Young, closed within 24-21 in the second quarter, using its speed and athleticism to force the Cavaliers into uncharacteristic mistakes.

“Typical first game, where you have some highs and lows and some dumb mistakes,” Landolt said. “It was fun to see them focus back in and come back together.”

Clackamas buckled down on defense and dominated the backboards to pull away, opening a 49-29 lead after three quarters. The Cavaliers finished with a 38-23 edge in rebounds, getting nine from Davidson, seven each from juniors Allie Roden and Dylan Mogel and six from junior Reyce Mogel.

“That was probably the most compelling difference,” Cole said. “I don't think we anticipated being outrebounded the way we were. We've got to get a lot tougher.”

The overall effort made up for a cold shooting night for the Cavaliers.

“Our offense was definitely not the best, but it's early in the season, our first game,” Davidson said. “Our shots will fall. We're a really good shooting team overall. I think our defense was our big emphasis for this game.”

Junior wing Sara Barhoum, one of Clackamas' top three-point threats, struggled from deep in the first half but scored eight of her 11 points in the second half, hitting two triples. Roden and Dylan Mogel added eight and seven points, respectively.

The Cavaliers extended their winning streak against Oregon opponents to 26 games, going back to a semifinal loss to Beaverton in the 2022 state tournament. The stretch includes three wins over South Medford.

How can Clackamas improve on last season?

“I think the next level for us is just being consistently a defensive team,” Davidson said. “Kind of making that our identity and making sure that whoever we play knows that we're going to give our full effort every single game on defense.”

The Cavaliers know they can't afford to rest on what they accomplished.

“This is a whole new season, it's a whole different team,” Davidson said. “We have a lot of the same pieces, but it's a whole different dynamic. … We have six or seven high-level DI kids on our team. The biggest thing is just the shared leadership on our team. We all lead and help each other out.”

Young led South Medford with 15 points. Junior guard Sara Schmerbach scored 11 points and sophomore guard Dyllyn Howell added 10 points for the Panthers (0-1), who will go for their first win Saturday at 5A No. 10 Corvallis.

“I was disappointed in our performance, but I realized that we're a very young team, and we're very inexperienced for that kind of game right out of the gate,” Cole said. “But I also knew it was a game that would give us a measuring stick.”