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Grizz girls lose two in a row

GRANTS PASS - For the second game in a row the Ashland High girls' basketball team struggled to hit shots, couldn't get a defensive stop when it needed to most and walked off the court with a loss.

There was at least one bright spot, however, according to Grizz head coach Steve Humann.

"The sun is going to come up tomorrow and so are we," he said.

When it comes to the suddenly sporadic Grizzlies, however, the rest is anyone's guess.

Ashland hit just 11 of 33 shots and was held to 16 points through three quarters in an ugly 36-30 Southern Oregon Conference loss to the Grants Pass Cavers, Friday night at the Grants Pass High gym.

It was the Grizzlies' second straight SOC defeat since their 3-0 league start, dropping the team to 3-2 in the conference and 12-3 overall. Worse, it came at the hands of a team that may end up battling Ashland for playoff positioning. The Cavers improved to 3-2 in the SOC.

The Grizzlies used an 18-7 rally in the final eight and a half minutes to cut a 13-point deficit to two with 26 seconds left, but GP senior guard Katie Tardieu answered with four straight free throws to give the Cavers their biggest win of the season.

"We know we can come back," Grizz junior guard Hilary Huyett said. "We've come back before and we gave it a good shot. It just wasn't all there, I guess."

Huyett scored 11 of her game-high 14 points to spearhead the Grizzlies' final surge. Her reawakening, which surpassed Ashland's first-half point total of eight, included three jumpers, two free throws and a 3-pointer from the corner that made it 32-30. She also stole an errant pass with 1:07 left and the Grizzlies down three, but was called for traveling while passing from the floor.

Ashland's fourth-quarter fireworks couldn't undo three quarters of futility, however, leaving the team grasping at anything resembling a positive sign.

"We played a lot better tonight that we did (Tuesday) against Roseburg," Humann said. "It was a team effort. Although we lost, it was a goal of ours to play as a team tonight."

Grizz junior guard Alysse Carlson, who struggled through her first scoreless game of the season, had a similar analysis.

"We kind of lost sight of what our teamwork is and I think that this is a step in the right direction," she said. "Even though it is a loss, we lost as a team, we did everything as a team and we listened to the coaches more. It was just an all-out effort. We're upbeat and we're ready to come to practice and work a lot harder."

Grants Pass' balanced scoring attack was a key to the victory. Four Cavers scored six points or more, led by junior guard Kori Seymour's team-high eight. Senior post Shanna Claflin added seven, while Tardieu and senior post Erin Glovinsky each chipped in six.

Ashland didn't play the entire game at full strength. Junior starting post Abeni Hill, who's been a defensive stopper and a rebounding machine for the Grizzlies, sat out the second half after vomiting blood at halftime. She was the game's leading scorer at the break with seven points and scored Ashland's only bucket of the second quarter.

Without their anchor in the middle, the Grizzlies spent most of the third and fourth quarters on offense passing the ball around the perimeter and settling for contested jumpers.

After the game, Ashland gave credit to the Cavers, but pointed the finger of responsibility directly at themselves.

"Grants Pass has really good defense," Huyett said, "and there were just a few breakdowns here and there, and defensively a few breakdowns."

Added Carlson: "We've got a lot of talent on the team and we're at the point, since we're young, where we're just trying to find a way to put it together."

Grizz Notes: Eight Grizzlies are scheduled to take part in the 14th annual Charity Ball, which will benefit the Children's Advocacy Center. The event will be held 5:30 p.m. to midnight tonight at the Rogue Valley Country Club. AHS players signed up to attend are: Carlson, Huyett, Hill, Jamie Roupp, Tess Golling, Bailey Hasty, Whitney Chase and Maddison Thivierge. — Ashland has Tuesday off before next Friday's date with Crater, at Central Point.