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Grizzlies let second-half lead slip away in season-ending loss to CV

Up 35-30 midway through the third quarter, the Ashland High boys basketball team was in perfect position to spring a Class 5A play-in upset Tuesday against Crescent Valley in Corvallis.

But the Grizzlies couldn’t keep their momentum going and the host Raiders rallied for a 56-43 victory to advance to the 16-team state tournament.

Philip Whitney drained five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 19 points and Joe Casey added 13 points as Crescent Valley of the Mid-Willamette Conference outscored Ashland 18-8 in the fourth quarter to win going away.

“We just stopped doing all the little things that got us the lead,” Ashland first-year coach Keithan Gregg said. “You’re just not going to get it done like that. We started rushing things and the moment just got too big for them.”

Senior forward Collin Malcolm was the only Grizzly in double figures with 17 points, as the rest of the team combined for 26. Walker Shibley-Styer added six and Stenely Graham five. Ashland finished the season with a record of 11-12.

The Grizzlies held Crescent Valley (11-14) to eight points in the second quarter and outscored the hosts 12-4 in the first four minutes of the third before the wheels fell off. Whitney and Hassan had a lot to do with that, combing to hit seven of the Knights’ nine triples.

That made the final result that much more painful for the Grizzlies, who keyed on Whitney.

“We didn’t do a good job taking care of our assignments,” Gregg said. “We knew coming in that there were two guys who could really shoot and they were not supposed to get any clean looks, and one of those guys [Whitney] had five 3s on us. We didn’t execute the game plan and when you don’t execute the game plan in the playoffs it usually doesn’t work out for you.”

Malcolm, who’s been the best all-around player for Ashland the past two seasons, went out strong with another team-leading effort on offense, but didn’t get much help. The Grizzlies’ 43 points was their lowest-scoring output since a loss at Springfield on Feb. 13.

“We needed a couple other guys to step up and hit shots,” Gregg said.

Malcolm and Jack Feinberg, who scored four points, are the only two seniors who will graduate off the Grizzlies’ roster. Gregg said the players coming back provide plenty of talent to build around.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s also a foundation for what’s to come,” Gregg said. “(Malcolm and Feinberg) had to deal with a lot, and for them to buy in and accept what we’re doing — it was something special to see them buy in. But we’ll come back with a little more experience, build on this and go from there.

“I told them after the game, ‘We’re not losers. We don’t lose, we learn.’ We’re going to keep driving our legs and keep going forward.”

ASHLAND (43) – Malcolm 17, Shibley-Styer 6, Graham 5, Feinberg 4, Ellis 3, Pippa 3, Hasskamp 3, Kennedy 2, Fuller 0, Hansen 0, Meads 0, Jones 0, Edson 0. Totals: 17 1-4 43.

CRESCENT VALLEY (56) – Whitney 19, Casey 13, Hassan 6, Hufanga 2, Pfeil 2, Davis 4, van Tamelen 2, Hurley 8, Houston 0, Little 0, Adams 0. Totals: 19 9-10 56.

Ashland 12 11 12 8 – 43

Crescent Valley 18 8 12 18 – 56

3-point goals – Ashland 8 (Malcolm 2, Shibley-Styer 2, Graham 1, Hasskamp 1, Feinberg 1, Pippa 1), Crescent Valley 9 (Whitney 5, Hassan 2, Casey 1, Hurley 1).