Defensive charge carries Ashland girls
ASHLAND — When you haven't lost a game since November and could practically sleepwalk your way into the state playoffs, finding motivation can sometimes be half the battle.
That could have been the case for the No. 2-ranked Ashland High girls basketball team Friday night against Mazama if it weren't for the previous meeting between the Southern Sky Conference rivals two weeks ago in Klamath Falls. That's when the underdog Vikings matched the Grizzlies shot for shot — and brick for brick — before finally succumbing by a mere six points.
So with that memory still fresh in the Ashland players' minds, the Grizzlies made sure the rematch would bear little resemblance to the first encounter by running over, around and through the Vikings, 66-37, at Mountain Avenue Gym.
"The word is effort," said Ashland post Brenna Heater, who had 19 points and nine rebounds. "The first game ... it just wasn't there. In this game, we came out with everything we were missing, worked hard and I thought we played awesome together. It was my favorite game this year so far."
The victory was Ashland's 16th in a row since that 0-2 start that now seems like another season. It also improved the Grizzlies to 5-0 in the Southern Sky. Mazama fell to 3-3 in league play.
The Grizzlies' defense did most of the damage, burning and burying the Vikings with 16 steals, many of which led directly to easy layups. That trend started early and was spearheaded by sophomore guard Allison Gida, who finished with six steals to go with six rebounds, six assists and 15 points.
Gida and Heater combined for 13 points as Ashland took a 21-9 lead into the second quarter, and the Grizzlies used an 8-0 run at the end of the second to snare a 40-22 halftime cushion.
There were plenty of highlights along the way, mostly of the fastbreak variety, and mostly involving Gida, who has added control to an ever-expanding repertoire that already included whiplash creativity.
On one play that featured a little of both, Gida went to the floor for a ball, twisted around, then, while sliding on her backside, found a streaking Kelsey McKinnis for a fastbreak bucket.
"She doesn't quit, whether we're up 30 or down 30, she's going to try to steal the ball from you every time, and she's going to try to go by you every time she has it," Ashland head coach Steve Farley said. "I think she's going to be a very special player."
The third quarter was more of the same, with Ashland pushing its lead to 24 points on Natalie DelCarlo's three-point play with 26 seconds to go. DelCarlo was one of four Grizzlies who scored four points or more in the quarter, as Ashland's depth helped the Grizzlies pull away. Nine Grizzlies scored at least two points, including McKinnis, who had 12 points and four assists.
The Vikings were led by junior guard Lacey Garrett, who scored a team-high 13 points, and Jennifer Saltenberger, who added six.
MAZAMA (37) — Grisby 5, Garrett 13, Jones 5, Groves 2, Karther-Miller 3, Saltenberger 6, Hunter 2, Hoskins 1. Totals: 13 8-17 37.
ASHLAND (66) — Van Vleck 2, Pavlich 4, Silbowitz 4, Zare 2, Siebenlist 4, McKinnis 12, Gida 15, DelCarlo 4, Heater 19. Totals: 24 12-16 66.
Mazama 9 13 14 1 — 37
Ashland 21 19 18 8 — 66
3-point goals — Mazama 3 (Grisby 1, Garrett 1, Karther-Miller 1).
Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456, ext. 224, or firstname.lastname@example.org