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Shibley's last-second 3 lifts Grizzlies past Aloha in Abby's Holiday Classic

MEDFORD — Following a painful two-point loss to Marist last week, Ashland boys basketball coach Sam Osofsky told Grizzly sharpshooter Walker Shibley that he couldn’t let his last-second miss that night rattle his confidence.

“You’ve always got to know that the next one will go in,” he said.

Good advice. Great timing.

Shibley swished a 3-pointer with less than a second to go to cap a thrilling finish and give the Grizzlies a 54-52 victory over Aloha in the consolation semifinals of the Abby’s Holiday Classic Tuesday at North Medford High School.

The Grizzlies were down one and appeared headed for another heartbreaking defeat after Aloha’s Ethan Channel converted a three-point play with 11.7 seconds to go. Following a time-out, Ashland broke Aloha’s full-court press and Malik Pippa dribbled to the basket before kicking out to Shibley for the game-winner.

The Warriors (3-5) quickly inbounded but could not get a shot away before the buzzer sounded.

The win advances the Grizzlies (4-5) to the consolation final, where it will play McKay for fourth place today at 2:30 p.m.

“It was really good for us because we’ve played a really tough schedule so far this year — this was our fourth 6A opponent,” Osofsky said. “We felt like these are the best situations to prepare us for league and where we want to go, but you can only go so far with moral victories and our boys have worked so hard. We were a little overdue for a break to go our way.

“We felt like we’ve done everything we could to earn our breaks, so it meant a lot for our program and the guys on the team for that shot to go in.”

Pippa led the Grizzlies with 18 points, Shibley had 15, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Ethan Jones scored 10. Osofsky also credited 6-foot-5 junior forward McKane Ellis with controlling the paint for the Grizzlies.

Aloha was led by Shane Sullivan’s 14 points, while Channel added nine and Matthew Powers eight.

Shibley’s last-second 3 wasn’t his only clutch moment of the night. The senior wing also drilled all three free throws after being fouled shooting a 3 to give the Grizzlies a one-point lead with less than 27 seconds to go, setting up the wild finish.

Osofsky said the Grizzlies’ plan in the final seconds was to break the press and for Pippa to go hard to the basket to tie the game with a layup or draw a foul, but the backup plan was for Shibley to drift out to the wing in case Pippa was bottled up.

“They executed to perfection,” Osofsky said. “(Pippa) made a perfect pass, (Shibley) made enough space to get the ball off and it was nothing but net.”

Osofsky said Shibley didn’t hesitate when he received the ball.

“We had a conversation just a couple days ago about how another opportunity would come and (Shibley) would be ready for it,” Osofsky said. “So for him to step up with that confidence and shoot the ball and make that shot is quite a testament to his mental strength.”

ALOHA (52) – Tshala 5, Powers 8, Lovincey 2, Channel 9, Mull 2, Donis 5, Hornbuckle 2, Ling 5, Sullivan 14, Nekepemi 0, Edwards 0. Totals: 21 8-14 52.

ASHLAND (54) – Graham 2, Jones 10, Hansen 2, Shibley 15, Ellis 4, Pippa 18, Elshalom 3, Fuller 0. Totals: 19 12-21 54.

Aloha 8 17 9 18 – 52

Ashland 14 12 9 19 – 54

3-point goals – Aloha 2 (Powers 2), Ashland 4 (Shibley 2, Pippa 2). Fouled out – Elshalom, Lovincey.

Girls Basketball

At Grants Pass, Ashland’s hard-nosed defense has been a bright spot in the Grizzlies’ rebuilding season, but it turned into their Achilles heel in a nonleague loss to Eagle Point on Tuesday.

The Eagles took advantage Ashland’s overaggressive pressure to outscore Ashland by 15 points at the free throw line and rode a huge game by Adrienne Wood to a 66-61 win in the Hidden Valley Tournament at Hidden Valley High School.

Wood, a 5-foot-3 senior guard, torched Ashland for 32 points and sophomore post Carlene Hart scored 16 as the Eagles hit 23 of 41 free throws to edge their shorthanded Midwestern League rivals.

“We played very well tonight,” Ashland coach Antione Perry said. “We were missing a couple starters, but overall the team played very well. We finally made some shots tonight.”

Sophomore Mya Elder-Hammond flirted with a triple-double for the Grizzlies, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while senior Jennifer O’Connor had 10 points and 11 boards and senior Kasydie Winner 11 points and eight boards.

Ashland (2-9) scored 32 points a game on average through its first 10 games, but eclipsed that mark early in the third quarter against the Eagles and finished with its highest point total of the season by a wide margin despite playing without senior Olivia Rooney and sophomore Alex Crane.

“It was a good game, so we look forward to the next time,” Perry said. “We felt like we had a chance.”

Eagle Point led by one point with about a minute to go when it opted to play keep-away from the Grizzlies, forcing them to foul. They did with about 30 seconds to go. Wood drained both free throws to extend Eagle Point’s lead to three, Ashland missed a 3-pointer at the other end and the Eagles put the game away at the charity stripe.

The game was Ashland’s last nonleague tune-up before its MWL opener, Jan. 8 at Churchill.

The Eagles (4-7) open league play Jan. 9 at North Eugene.

EAGLE POINT (66) – Morris 0, Lilly 6, S. Beal 0, Crowe 0, Wood 32, Rincones 10, Alden 0, C. Beal 0, Hart 16. Totals: 19 23-41 66.

ASHLAND (61) – Voskes 0, Winner 11, Altig 5, Richardson 2, Miller 2, Hayes 12, O’Connor 10, Elder-Hammond 12, Kolar 7. Totals: 23 8-14 61.

Eagle Point 18 13 15 20 – 66

Ashland 16 13 14 18 – 61

3-point goals – Eagle Point 5 (Wood 4, Rincones 1), Ashland 5 (Winner 3, Hayes 1, Kolar 1). Fouled out – Alden, Winner, Kolar.