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Comets jilt Grizz in OT

Sapienza's free throws ice win for Crater —

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CENTRAL POINT-- It might have been the deafening roar. It could've been a matter of forgetting the play. —

— Whatever the case, when Crater's Janell Sapienza scanned the right side of the key, no one was there to set a screen. No one to roll to the basket. —

— The seconds were vanishing from the clock in overtime, leaving Sapienza little choice but to put the ball on the floor and drive the right side of the lane. —

— She was fouled on the drive and calmly sank two free throws with 4.1 seconds to play giving No. 10 Crater a 50-48 girls basketball victory over the No. 8 Ashland Grizzlies before a packed house at Crater High. —

— We were trying to run a screen and roll, but no one was on that side, said Sapienza. I went ahead and drove, but I was definitely looking to kick the ball back out to Sarah Pool -- I wasn't expecting to get fouled. —

— Ashland's Hanna Seltzer, who had given the Grizzlies a 48-46 lead with 3:08 left in overtime, wasn't about to let Sapienza go unchallenged. —

— I'm not going to watch someone beat us while the clock runs out, Seltzer said. Whatever it takes to stop them, I'll do. —

— Sapienza had tied it with a pair of free throws with 1:31 to play. That made the final shots all the easier. —

— — —

Sarah Yager of Crater goes by an Ashland defender in their intence matchup for the top spot in the conference.

— — Both times I was just trying to clear my head, Sapienza said. I was thinking about how we shoot 20 free throws a day in practice and imagining I was in practice just to take the pressure off. —

— The Grizzlies got off one last shot as Seltzer took a twisting 25-footer at the buzzer. —

— The victory propelled Crater into a first-place tie in the Southern Oregon Conference standings with the Grizzlies at 5-1 as everyone takes a week off before returning to action next Friday. —

— I think that was a game where every player left everything on the floor, Crater coach David Heard said. That was better than advertised. —

— Heard was pleased his team played well for four quarters after falling apart defensively in the final eight minutes of a 59-53 loss Tuesday at South Medford. —

— Sapienza, a 5-foot-7 junior forward who scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds to go with three steals and four assists, was a prime example. Matched up against 6-foot Jackie Woods, Sapienza more than held her own against the Grizzles all-conference center. —

— That's really something when you ask a kid to essentially assume a defensive role and then to have that kind of game on offense and have 11 rebounds too, Heard said. —

— That the game went into overtime was a minor miracle. The Grizzlies went from 3:11 of the third quarter until 3:46 remained in regulation without a field goal. The Comets went on a 10-1 run to take a 40-35 advantage with Woods' free throw providing Ashland's only score. —

— Even though Ashland led 26-23 at the half, the Grizzlies found themselves picking up fouls. Woods went to the bench with three fouls with 4:01 left in the third quarter and Morgan picked up two quick ones and sat down with four fouls with 1:26 left in the third quarter. —

— Then moments after Woods sank a free throw to cut Crater's lead to 37-35, she barged down the floor, knocking Sarah Yager over like the 10 pin. —

— Coach tells us that Jackie always takes the ball right at the basket, said the 5-foot-6 sophomore. I didn't think about it, I just knew the only way I was going to defend 2-on-1 was to take the charge. I knew I was going to get knocked down. If I made it dramatic enough I knew the refs were going to call it. —

— With Woods and Morgan benched with fouls, the Comets turned up the pressure against Ashland's talented perimeter shooters. —

— Our offense works inside to outside and when our posts were on the bench, they did a real nice job of pressuring the outside, said Seltzer, who led Ashland with 13 points. We didn't have anyone to get the ball to. —

— But the Grizzlies fought on and quickly overcame a 40-35 deficit when Morgan returned to the lineup with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. —

— Morgan scored on an inbounds play and the Seltzer netted a 3-pointer to tie it, 40-40, with 3:12 to play. —

— Amy Denson responded with a 17-footer and then stole a pass and fed Pool for a breakaway bucket to make it 44-40 with 2:08. —

— Ashland rallied again. —

— Morgan scored her 11th and 12th points on a layin, but was soon after whistled for her fifth foul with 1:41 left in regulation. Yager sank both free throws to make it 46-42. Jenny Pippa countered with a trey from the left wing to make it 46-45 with 1:19 showing. —

— With 46 seconds left, Woods was called for her fifth personal. Pool missed two free throws and that opened the door for Ashland's Christina Kalemkeris to give Ashland its first lead since early in the half. But the sophomore made only the first of two shots with 19 seconds to go. —

— Crater's possession ended when Pool turned the ball over on a five-second closely guard call after getting instructions from Heard. —

— We're still trying to iron out our communication and leadership out on the floor, said Heard, whose teams won three straight SOC titles before giving way to Ashland and North Medford last year. —

— It was so loud that it was difficult to hear on the floor. Then, in turn, to communicate to your teammates is that much more difficult. —

— The Grizzlies took consolation, knowing the Comets visit Ashland on Feb. 15, the final night of the regular season. —

— Their wasn't much we could do with Jackie and Chelsea on the bench, Ashland coach Heather Roberts said. I had to stick a guard down on the post. The kids out there did the best they could. —

— I was pleased with the effort, I just wasn't pleased with the outcome. —

ASHLAND (48)-- Morgan 12, Huyett 0, Bullen 5, Seltzer 13, Pippa 8, Woods 9, McNaught 0, Kalemkeris 1. Totals: 19-48 5-12 48. —

CRATER (50)-- Yager 7, Chase 0, Hemphill 7, Pool 8, Sapienza 12, McLeod 5, Hall 0, Denson 11, Johnson 0. Totals: 17-43 14-21 50. —

Ashland

..............8 18 8 12 2 -- 48 Crater

.............11 12 12 11 4 -- 50 —

— 3-point goals -- Ashland 5-18 (Seltzer 3, Pippa 2), Ashland 2-4 (Yager 1, Pool 1). Fouled out -- Morgan, Woods. —

— JV score -- Crater 41, Ashland 35.

Comets jilt Grizz in OT Photos by Drew Fleming Janell Sapienza scored 12 points, including the game-winning free throws, to lead Crater.