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Comets' pressure too much for Grizzlies

Ashland High head girls basketball coach Antione Perry knew that the Grizzlies’ schedule in the final month of the 2019 season was one that featured some of the best teams the Midwestern League has to offer.

After a tough night in Eugene last Friday, things didn’t get much better when the Crater Comets came to town.

Ashland’s offense struggled for the second straight game, as the Grizzlies followed up their season-low point total of 23 against Churchill with a 65-24 loss to Crater at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium on Tuesday night.

“We’re in a little bit of a team slump right now,” Perry said. “We’re just not playing like we were at the beginning of the year. The girls are working hard and, like I said last week, I think we’re a little tired right now, but it’s still no excuse. We’re just not playing in sync and it’s causing a lot of turnovers.”

Against a team like Crater that entered the night ranked No. 8 in the latest Class 5A coaches’ poll, turnovers prove to be costly — and they certainly were for Ashland.

“They feed off that,” Perry said of turning the ball over so often against the Comets. “We preached as a coaching staff that we have to make them run offense, not turn it over because we know they’re going to press. Layups are easy, and if we give those up, it’s tough. We just didn’t execute.”

With the win, Crater (16-3 overall, 9-1 MWL) moved into a second-place tie with Springfield, as both teams trail Churchill (15-3, 10-1) — which plays at Eagle Point on Friday night — by a half-game with three weeks to go in the regular season.

Ashland — which fell to 6-12 overall and 2-9 in the MWL — heads north to face Thurston (6-13, 3-8) on Friday night. The Grizzlies claimed their first league win of the season with a 46-41 victory against the Colts on Jan. 4.

Crater, which has now won five straight games, was able to limit Ashland leading scorer Jayd Sollinger to just two points in the first half. Sollinger scored 11 of her team-high 13 points in the second half, accounting for over half of the Grizzlies’ point total on the night.

The Comets were led offensively by Sydney Gray, who a game-high 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field. McKenzie Hirsch and Presley Robison both had nine points, while Averi Young added eight.

“We had a little bit of an off night shooting. It’s one of those nights, too, where that goes off, we turn it over, then we’re down 10-2,” Perry said. “We just have to figure that out. I think we’ll be fine. The girls are tired of losing, they know they need to get over the jump, they just haven’t completely gotten there yet.”

CRATER (65): Gugliotta 3, Hirsch 9, Dance 4, Idiart 2, Van Hook 4, Westbrock 0, Robison 9, Oestreich 2, Gray 17, Ellis 4, Dutkiewicz 2, Woodard 0, Bowers 1, Young 8. Totals: 27 9-16 65.

ASHLAND (24): Wilson 0, Sollinger 13, Barnes 2, Gorringe 0, Moran 0, Baldwin 2, Larson 0, Munson 4, Summers 0, Cooper 0, Rodriguez 2, Abel 1. Totals: 8 4-9 24.

Crater17231114— 65

Ashland5865— 24

3-point goals — Crater 2 (Hirsch 1, Dance 1), Ashland 2 (Sollinger 1, Munson 1).

JV result — Crater 58, Ashland 11.

Boys Basketball

CRATER 67, ASHLAND 47: At Ashland, Crater guard Nathan Horton scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Comets to a road win over Ashland at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium.

Horton, who was 9 of 14 from the field, made five 3-pointers in the win.

Crater big man Nate Biddle had 18 points, while Hunter Chubb added 14 points.

Ashland, which fell to 2-9 in the MWL and 6-12 overall, was led offensively by senior guard KJ Pippa’s team-high 16 points. Gabe Ekwall was the only other Grizzly to score in double figures with 11 points, while Joseph Wallner-Sentle added eight.

Ashland plays at Thurston on Friday night.

CRATER (67): Horton 23, Bittle 18, Chubb 14, Edwards 8, Eaton 4, Vranes 0, Johnson 0, Jaasko 0, Dance 0. Totals: 26 7-13 67.

ASHLAND (47): Pippa 16, Anthony 0, Wallner-Sentle 8, Ekwall 11, Hanks 0, Sanford 4, Saulsbury 0, Swenson 2, Sayre 0, Carter 0, Desmond 6, Harris 0, Barnes 0, Hawthorne 0. Totals: 19 6-15 47.

Crater20181316— 67

Ashland7151312— 47

3-point goals — Crater 8 (Horton 5, Bittle 2, Chubb 1), Ashland 3 (Pippa 1, Ekwall 2).

Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.

Ashland High sophomore Kendyl Abel looking to pass the ball between Crater High defenders Nehkyah Ellis (31) and Averi Young (41) at Mountain Avenue Gym on Tuesday.(PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)
Ashland High junior Nina Munson attempting to shoot past Crater High defenders at Mountain Avenue Gym on Tuesday.(PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)