Eighteen years. That's how long it had been since Oregon City (Ore.) High lost a girls basketball game on its home court entering Tuesday's Three Rivers League faceoff against Clackamas (Ore.) High. And, for the first time since Whitney Houston ruled the music world with "I Will Always Love You," the Pioneers looked at the scoreboard at the end of the game and saw a team other than Oregon City with the higher score, with Clackamas emerging as a 68-65 victor.
"What the Pioneers are really all about is being resilient," Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf told the Portland Oregonian after watching his team lose at home for the first time in his head-coaching tenure. "We've won state championships when we've finished second or third in our league. Our kids are going to be hurt tonight and down a little bit, but I have a really good confidence that they'll bounce back."
Whitney Houston isn't the only cultural barometer available to get a sense of just how long Oregon City dominated its own home turf. Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" was a brand-spanking new flick, still years away from constant syndication on a variety of Ted Turner-owned networks. Just two days after Oregon City's last home loss -- Feb. 13, 1993 against Lake Oswego (Ore.) High -- President Bill Clinton gave a speech encouraging Americans to make financial sacrifices for the good of the country, proving that 18 years is even long enough to have an entire news cycle complete itself.
The Pioneers may bounce back as their coach predicted, but for the second time in January, the Cavaliers got the best of them, breaking a monumental streak. At the start of the month, Clackamas ended Oregon City's 45-game league winning streak with an 11-point win on Clackamas' home court. After both teams rattled off wins following the first encounter, Clackamas showed up at Oregon City again, eventually pulling out the three-point victory thanks to the kind of edge reigning champions almost always own, particularly at home: free-throw shooting. The Cavaliers hit 15 of 21 free throws in the fourth quarter to salt away a narrow and memorable win.
"We got beat at the free-throw line," Guelsdorf told the Oregonian. "They were getting to the foul line and we weren't, and that's what champions do. Give them a lot of credit. It's a tough loss, but at the same time, it's not do-or-die for us. It's a learning experience."
While the full ramifications of Clackamas' momentous victory may not be known for some time, the thrill of breaking a decades-long spell on league opponents wasn't lost on the Cavaliers.
"This win for Clackamas High School is huge," Cavaliers coach Ken Trapp told the Oregonian. "It's also a great win for the 18 years of our kids that have had to come over here. So it was for all of them, and it was for all of the Three Rivers League. You're welcome.
"It's just great to be able to beat them anytime. That's just a tough team to beat, that's all there is to it."