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Late surge by Grizz pins first SOC loss on North

ASHLAND ' The Alamo it wasn't.

Couldn't be, with half the Southern Oregon Conference season still to play.

No, Tuesday night's home date with SOC-leading North Medford wasn't a last stand for the Ashland girls basketball team.

But it sure had that feel, with the Grizzlies coming off three straight league losses.

In danger of dropping to 3-4 in the conference, Ashland dug in, scrapped for every loose ball and ultimately scored the final six points to secure a 57-51 victory.

— The Grizzlies (13-4, 4-3 SOC) gave everything they had ' and needed it all ' to move into fourth place outright in the conference at the midway mark.

The Black Tornado (13-4, 6-1) slipped into a tie for first with Crater, a 66-51 winner at Roseburg on Tuesday.

I think that was probably the biggest game of the season for our team, said Hilary Huyett, who poured in 25 points to lead Ashland. We've been struggling lately a lot, and North is a really great team. We've been practicing really hard, and we came out with a lot of fire and played our hearts out.

It took plenty of heart for the Grizzlies down the stretch, as the Tornado overcame a 51-45 deficit with — minutes, 28 seconds remaining to knot the score at 51-all with about 2:20 left.

Junior post Michelle Westermann cashed in consecutive feeds from junior point guard Kailey Bostwick, then Bostwick sank a pair of free throws following a backcourt steal to complete North's 6-0 spurt to tie it.

Ashland responded with a free throw from Alysse Carlson and sophomore post Tess Golling's putback of Carlson's errant second attempt for a 54-51 edge with 1:44 to play.

The Tornado's last chance came out of a timeout with 33.2 seconds to go and the score still 54-51.

Sophomore guard Naomi Mautz popped open for a 3-pointer on the right wing, but it missed, and Huyett grabbed the board and swished two free throws with 23.5 on the clock to seal the win.

That was how we drew it up, North second-year head coach Tim Karrick said of Mautz's potentially tying shot. It was a good look, she's been shooting very well and I was surprised it didn't go in. That's kind of the way things went. We've won some close ones, and now we've lost a close one.

The Grizzlies drilled 10 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and 13-for-19 (68.4 percent) overall.

The biggest story, however, was Ashland's effort on the boards.

Going against a taller, maybe more athletic Tornado team that generally outrebounds its opponents, the Grizzlies grabbed a 38-22 rebounding advantage.

They gobbled 30 of those caroms off the defensive glass.

We're not exactly the tallest team out there, so we knew we had to get inside and get in position to get the boards, said junior point guard Carlson, who snatched a game-high seven rebounds. Rebounds can win you games.

So can deft outside shooting, which Huyett displayed in the first half, knocking down five 3s and scoring 17 points.

The junior guard splashed a triple off a hand-off from Carlson as the first-quarter horn sounded, boosting Ashland to a 14-13 edge.

Huyett struck again with five seconds left before halftime, draining her final trey to lift the Grizzlies to a 31-28 lead at the break.

Huyett finished 7 of 14 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line and added five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Carlson had nine points and five assists.

Sophomore guard Jamie Roupp displayed her customary grit in collecting six points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks, while junior post Abeni Hill teamed six points with five boards.

Golling came through with four of her six rebounds in the fourth quarter, and freshman post Whitney Chase was integral off the bench, amassing six points, four boards, three steals and two assists.

This is huge, said Steve Humann, Ashland's second-year head coach. It's a big confidence-booster and self-esteem thing that just makes me very proud of them.

For North, Mautz collected 11 points and three steals off the bench and Westermann had 11 points and six rebounds.

Junior wing Caitlin Seeley and Bostwick each found nine points, the latter adding five assists.

The Tornado forced 26 Grizzly turnovers, but it shot just 19-for-53 (35.8 percent) from the field.

Ashland deserved to win the game, Karrick said. They outplayed us.

NORTH MEDFORD (51) ' Seeley 9, Murphy 0, Westermann 11, Lilly 2, Bostwick 9, Mautz 11, Standifer 2, Eastwold 3, Heim 2, Heath 2. Totals: 19-53 10-18 51.

ASHLAND (57) ' Roupp 6, Golling 3, Hill 6, Huyett 25, Carlson 9, Chase 6, Hasty 0, Thivierge 2. Totals: 19-37 13-19 57.

North Medford ........................ 13 15 10 13 ' 51

Ashland ................................... 14 17 10 16 ' 57

3-point goals ' North Medford — (Mautz 2, Bostwick 1), Ashland 6 (Huyett 5, Roupp 1). Fouled out ' Bostwick.

JV score ' Ashland 49, North Medford 46.

Reach reporter Tim Pyle at 776-4483 or e-mail