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No. 2 Grizzlies avenge loss to West Albany with 24th straight victory

ASHLAND — One year ago, West Albany visited Ashland in the Class 5A girls basketball playoffs and made itself at home, winning in the second-round contest.

On Friday, the Grizzlies reestablished ownership of Mountain Avenue Gym.

Brenna Heater, Kelsey McKinnis and Allison Gida scored all of the second-ranked Grizzlies' points through the first three quarters as Ashland breezed to a 63-51 victory over the Mid-Willamette League co-champion for a berth in the eight-team state tournament.

Ashland (24-2) opens state play against third-ranked Willamette (25-1) in a 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal contest Wednesday at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus. Willamette defeated No. 6 Sherwood Friday, 51-48.

The Grizzlies have won 23 straight games since beginning the season 0-2. It'll be the Southern Sky champions' second quarterfinal berth in three years, having made the big-school tourney in 2006.

Heater scored 21 points and McKinnis and Gida tallied 18 each for Ashland against No. 9 West Albany, the second-seeded team from its league.

A year ago, the Bulldogs came here and won, 50-45.

"I think we've been prepping for this game for two weeks or more," McKinnis said in a radio interview. "I've been waiting for this game for a year. We came out strong and knew what we had to do."

The Grizzlies' game plan, said coach Steve Farley, was to establish McKinnis, a junior wing, in hopes of pulling West Albany out of its zone defense. That worked to the tune of a 19-8 first-period advantage and 11 points for McKinnis.

"We ran two quick plays for Kelsey to try and get her going," said Farley.

McKinnis converted with a basket on the first set, then knocked down a 3-pointer the next time down the court. The 5-foot-8 junior then picked up a loose ball and converted it into another hoop, accounting for her team's first seven points.

"That really got us going, and defensively we played well," said Farley.

In the second quarter, it was Heater's turn.

The 6-3 junior post scored 11 points as the middle opened up and she and her teammates, particularly Gida, took advantage.

Heater also had nine rebounds and six blocked shots, and Gida had six assists and four rebounds.

Ashland led by 23 points entering the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs cut the lead as Farley substituted liberally, but they weren't able to threaten the Grizzlies.

Brooke Lepman led West Albany with 14 points.

WEST ALBANY (51) — Brooke Lepman 14, Grady 13, Johnston 3, Sitton 0, Jamison 3, Hartman 5, Barawis 2, Lukiris 0, Hortsch 0, Silsby 0, Kastrava 9, Lemeromde 2. Totals: 21 5-6 51.

ASHLAND (63) — Heater 21, Contreras 2, Del Carlo 0, Gida 18, Patton 0, Petitt 0, McKinnis 18, Siebenlist 0, Zare 0, Silbowitz 2, Pavlich 0, Van Vleck 2. Totals: 27 6-9 63.

West Albany 8 12 8 23 — 51

Ashland 19 16 16 12 — 63

3-point goals — West Albany 4 (Kastrava 1, Hartman 1, Jamison 1, Johnston 1), Ashland 3 (McKinnis 2, Gida 1).

Ashland’s Allison Gida shoots a layup in the second half against West Albany.