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Crater unstoppable in latest rout

EAGLE POINT -- Give the Eagle Point girls basketball team credit for this much: It used an awful lot of tactics to hinder Crater.

But no matter what the Eagles tried, the Comets shredded it Saturday night, using a lethally effective first-half offense to breeze to a 71-40 Southern Oregon Conference victory.

They shot the lights out, Eagle Point coach Dan Swanson. When they shoot that well, you aren't going to beat them. Against a team that you have to have everything go right to beat, you are going to get beat by 30 when that happens.

We started in a man-to-man and they hit, Eagle Point assistant coach Jerry Grant said. We switched to a zone and they hit. It didn't matter what we did, everything they threw up just went.

The seventh-ranked Comets (12-2, 7-1) raced to a 10-0 lead in the game's first three minutes and never looked back. Crater remained a game behind SOC leader North Medford, hitting seven of its first nine shots -- including all three 3-point attempts -- and was up 19-4 with three minutes left in the opening quarter.

You want to get a good start on the road, said Crater coach David Heard. You don't want to allow them to believe they can play with you and that's what we did.

Eagle Point (5-3 SOC) missed its first nine shots from the floor -- three of which were blocked by the Comets' inside duo of Emily Wiley and Caryn Ross. The Eagles managed just two field goals in the quarter, both on driving layups by Becky Gregory, and trailed 23-9 when it was over.

Crater guard Chassie Wiersma said the strong and steady start was just what the Comets needed.

We're starting to realize that we need to keep our composure and not get so excited coming out, she said. Everybody is playing really well and we are starting to get our shots back. It has a lot to do with being patient.

Wiersma delivered what proved to be the knockout punch in the opening minutes of the second period. She scored the Comets' first eight points to stretch the lead to 20.

No offense to any of their players, but they don't have anyone that can guard her because she's so quick off the dribble, said Heard.

halftime, the score was 44-15 and the Eagles were 3-for-24 from the field -- all on baskets by Gregory. Crater had nailed 14-of-23 shots and basically locked up the victory. Eagle Point got no closer than 26 points in the second half.

Crater unleashed a box-and-one defense on Gregory, who came in as the SOC's leading scorer at 19.8 points a game. With guard Jennifer Dunlap hawking her much of the time, Gregory managed only eight shots and nine points in the first half.

It's a challenge, Dunlap said of guarding Gregory. I got beat a couple of times because she's really quick. We usually use that defense on her because that's the only way to stop her.

I miss a lot of the game because I'm so focused on her. I don't remember a thing from the first half.

Gregory -- the only starter who played nearly the entire game -- finished with 19 and went 5-for-16 from the field, scoring nine points from the foul line.

While the loss is disappointing for Eagle Point, the Eagles remain confident that they can make the state playoffs.

Crater is ranked in the top 10, so they are supposed to win, said Gregory. They just showed they are a better team.

Wiersma scored 18 -- all the first half -- to lead Crater, while Ross and Cherrith Wiersma had 12 each. Cherrith Wiersma didn't start for a second straight game due to soreness in a knee, although she played extensively and is expected to start Friday against Mazama in Klamath Falls.

The lopsided victory -- and Friday's victory at Ashland -- came as a relief to Heard.

I was real worried with two road games that we could get picked off by somebody, he said.

CRATER (71) -- Gentile 7, Dunlap 0, Chase 0, Hemphill 2, Robbins 9, Sapienza 0, Caster 0, Ross 12, Che. Wiersma 12, McLoed 3, Wiley 0, Cha. Wiersma 18, Schneider 8. Totals 23-44 20-25 71.

EAGLE POINT (40) -- Smith 0, Thomas 0, Lucas 2, Damon 1, Roth 3, Gregory 19, Bernhardt 1, Lee 0, Crandell 8, Ford 0, Happel 6. Totals 11-54 17-28 40.

Crater23 21 16 11 -- 71

Eagle Point9 6 16 9 -- 40

3-point goals -- Crater 5 (Che. Wiersma 2, Schneider 2, Gentile 1), Eagle Point — (Crandell 1).

Caryn Ross drives on the Eagle Point defense. - Photo by Bob Pennell