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Comets burn Ashland

CENTRAL POINT - Crater's offense sizzled, Ashland's fizzled and a game that was supposed to be close wasn't.

The Comets decimated the Grizzly defense inside and out and used an 18-2 run at the start of the second half to run away with a dominating 64-48 Southern Oregon Conference win at Crater High Friday night.

Ashland started well, taking a 12-8 lead early on, but hit just 8 of 29 shots after the first

quarter against a Crater defense that was airtight from beginning to end.

The loss was Ashland's third straight and dropped the Grizzlies to 3-3 in the SOC, 12-4 overall. The high-flying Comets, meanwhile, improved to 5-1 in the SOC and 10-6 overall.

Ashland returns home Tuesday night to cap off its first round of league play against another conference power, North Medford.

"Crater is a very well-rounded team and a hard team to match-up with," Grizz coach Steve Humann said. "They played very well."

Ashland struggled just to get shots up against the taller, more athletic Comets, who became the third team in a row to hold Ashland below 50. The Grizzlies took just 13 shots in the middle two quarters, making two.

Grizz junior guard Alysse Carlson drained a — in the second quarter and sophomore Jamie Roupp added a bucket in third. Besides that, Ashland could only muster 10 free throw makes on 12 attempts between the first quarter and fourth quarter as Crater continued to extend its lead.

Meanwhile, the Comets seemed to hit everything they threw up against a scrambling Grizzly defense. Well-defended jumpers, mostly off the hand of fist-pumping senior Dani Montgomery, found net time and time again, frustrating the Grizzlies and charging up the home crowd.

Montgomery banked in a shot from the baseline with 2:30 left in the third to cap a 13-0 run that gave the Comets their biggest lead of the game, 48-25. The animated post finished with a team-high 20 points.

Ashland didn't give up.

The Grizzlies scored 13 of the next 18 points to cut Crater's lead to 13 with 5:27 left, but missed three straight free throws before running out of gas.

"They just kept scoring," said Roupp, whose hustle has been one of Ashland's few bright spots throughout the team's current skid. "I felt that was the (best) effort we've had in so long. I thought every single time out there everyone was giving their hardest. We weren't getting the stops on 'D' and not all of our shots were falling, but it's hard to win when they score 64 points."

Junior guard Hilary Huyett scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and led the Grizzlies with 20, while junior post Abeni Hill added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Carlson chipped in seven and Roupp six.

Crater used superior balance to hand Ashland its most lopsided defeat of the season. Five Comets scored seven or more - Montgomery, Whitney Black (15), Nicki Tyska (8), Katie Robertson (8) and Jessica Wasniewski (7).

The Comets shot 49 percent (27-for-55) to Ashland's 32 percent and outrebounded the Grizzlies 26-13 through three quarters before ending up with a 28-21 advantage on the boards.

Things got a little dicey for Crater in the fourth. After a 9-2 run brought Ashland within 16, Grizz sophomore forward Tess Golling was fouled and the momentum tilted ever so slightly. Golling made the first but missed the second, and Roupp beat two Comets for the rebound.

A series that was indicative of Ashland's recent struggles followed.

Roupp missed two follow attempts under the basket and, after the Comets were finally able to control the rebound, Crater guard Emily Brookins was called for traveling. She received a technical foul for arguing the call, but Ashland failed to take advantage when Huyett, one of the best free throw shooters in the conference, went 0-for-2 at the line.

Crater scored eight of the next 10 points and was never threatened again

With eight league games left, Ashland is in the middle of the pack in the SOC standings. Suddenly, not even a playoff berth, much less an SOC championship, is a given for a Grizzly team that was rated No. — in a preseason SOC coaches poll.

"We're not panicking," Humann said. "It's tough to say when you lose a game, but we're getting back to our groove."

Added Hill: "I think we can [turn it around], I think we really can. We have the heart; we're Ashland."