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Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Pelicans

Hilary Huyett couldn't have picked a better time to rediscover her stroke and the Pelicans couldn't have picked a worse person to foul with the game on the line.

Ashland's most deadly outside shooter struggled through the first three quarters but hit six of eight free throws in the fourth, including a pair with three seconds left, as Ashland withstood a late Klamath Union charge for a 61-57 Southern Oregon Conference win Tuesday night at Mountain Avenue gym.

The Pels cut an 11-point deficit with four minutes left to just two on Jenni Ritter's 3-pointer with 1:21 to go, but allowed the Grizzlies to run off the next 1:18. Two near steals almost led to a Grizz backcourt violation before Huyett was finally grabbed at midcourt.

The junior guard swished both freebies, and the Grizzlies improved to 11-1 overall and 2-0 in SOC play. Klamath, playing its SOC opener, fell to 7-4 overall.

Huyett, junior guard Alysse Carlson and junior post Abeni Hill combined to score 45 points to pace Ashland: Huyett scored 16, Carlson had 18 points and three steals and Hill added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Ashland also got seven points and some clutch fourth-quarter play out of freshman post Whitney Chase, while sophomore guard Jamie Roupp, nursing back and groin injuries, added three points and three steals.

For the Pelicans, Ritter, a junior wing, scored 21 points while sophomore post Korrie Monti chipped in nine.

Sporadic Grizz

The Grizzlies, rated the top SOC team in a preseason coaches poll, were stellar out of the gate and at the end of the third, but struggled to find a groove and looked sluggish in the fourth. Ashland coach Steve Humann credited the Pels for much of that, but also pointed out his team's injury woes: Roupp, usually a force inside, and sophomore forward Bailey Hasty (hand) both played limited minutes.

"Jamie is an opportunist for the whole team," Humann said, "and without her getting loose balls and getting rebounds, we struggle."

Still, Ashland was able to go on a 14-4 run between the last three minutes of the third and the midway point of the fourth to gain a cushion that proved just soft enough. Hill and Carlson each scored five points in the run, three of Carlson's coming on a trey with 20 seconds left in the third.

Ashland led 25-17 after one, but KU won the second quarter 12-7 and trailed by just three at the half. The Grizzlies were effective on offense only in spurts, shooting just 36 percent (20-for-55) and turning the ball over 14 times. But they made up for it by outrebounding Klamath Union 35-28, including 19-9 in the second half. The Grizzlies also came up with seven steals and outscored KU 18-10 at the foul line.

"They ran their offense very well and we went up and took quick shots," Humann said. "I've been saying all along that (KU coach) John Riggs was going to get that team going and he has.

"The one thing we have to do as a team is do the things that the coach says."

Humann didn't elaborate, but his players did, saying defense is the team's most glaring weakness and effort the key to improving it. KU supported that theory by shooting 44 percent.

"I think we need to come back together as a team," Roupp said. "We're all good friends and we need to play like that on the court. We need to show how we really can play."

Hill agreed.

"I don't think we're tired," she said, "I just think sometimes, like coach says, we can get lazy. It just turns into not playing up to our potential."

Boys Basketball

At Klamath Falls, Klamath Union used a decisive 26-12 rebounding edge to down Ashland 59-49 in the SOC opener for both teams Tuesday night.

Six-foot-eight senior Will Sargent led all players, with seven rebounds to go with 13 points and Paxton Ritter added 14 points to lead the Pels (7-3 overall).

Senior Jacob Wynn had a productive night with 10 points, five assists and three steals.

Junior Jeff Skinner led Ashland (4-7) with 13 points while Logan Bishop added 12. All nine of Brian Kitchell's points came from behind the 3-point line.