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Ashland rebounds, will play for fourth

PORTLAND — Fighting back tears of frustration, Allison Gida made a decision: "I just thought to myself that I can't get down because this is a team effort, and if I get down, then everyone will get down. So, we just have to work together."

And now they'll have to work together for a few more days.

After picking up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, Gida picked herself up and scored eight of her 15 points as Ashland avoided elimination with a 52-45 win over Bend in the OSAA Class 5A girls basketball tournament Thursday morning at the Chiles Center.

The win advances the No. 2-ranked Grizzlies (25-3) to the consolation finals, where they will face Corvallis (17-10) at 9 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game is rewarded with the fourth-place trophy, and the loser will take home the sixth-place trophy. Ashland has never finished higher than fifth.

"No one wanted to go home today," said Ashland's Kelsey McKinnis, who had seven points and four assists. "No one wants to go back to Ashland. Just two more days up in Portland's going to be so much fun — and to play for fourth place, that's a really good opportunity. We don't want to go home empty-handed. We want to bring back a trophy."

Junior post Brenna Heater led Ashland with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks less than 16 hours after she went off for 36 points in a quarterfinal loss to Willamette. Heidi Siebenlist had 10 points and five rebounds, and Gida added seven assists and five rebounds.

The Lava Bears (15-10) got 17 points out of Brittany Bruenig and 14 from Brittane Niebergall, but they shot just 25 percent (15-for-59) from the floor to lose for the fifth time in their last seven games.

Ashland took charge of the game in the second quarter and appeared comfortably in control when Gida soared in for a layup to put the Grizzlies up 25-14 to start the third. But moments later, Gida was benched with her fourth foul, Bend went to a full-court press and Ashland, struggling just to advance the ball past midcourt, lost the momentum.

That led to a crucial decision by Ashland head coach Steve Farley to re-enter Gida with 3:51 to go in the third. The Grizzlies still led 25-20, but Bend was rolling.

"She's a game-changer, and we couldn't let it get out of hand," Farley said. "They were starting to press, and we weren't handling it so well. She can handle that pressure better than most of our players. It was one of those things where we were going to win it or lose it with our top players on the floor."

The risky move didn't pay off at first. Bend continued its charge, eventually capping a 10-2 rally on Carol Schatz's jumper, which gave the Lava Bears a 32-29 lead late in the third. But Ashland, relying heavily on Gida's ballhandling, eventually figured out the press, settled down and went on a 10-2 run of its own early in the fourth quarter to go up 41-36.

Heater scored six points in the rally, putting an exclamation point on another fantastic performance. She had help this time, however. The Grizzlies shot 48 percent (19-for-40) from the floor, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers.

"We gutted out a nice win," Farley said. "That was tough to come back — we gave a lot last night (against Willamette), and to be able to come back at 10:45 in the morning and give the effort that we gave out, I was very happy."

While the effort was there, the composure at times wasn't. Bend rattled Ashland into 18 turnovers with an aggressive defense that had the Grizzlies pleading to the referees for some help. That help never really came, but Ashland eventually adjusted.

"They were scrappy and all over the place," McKinnis said. "We haven't really seen that kind of ball-handle pressure, getting hit every time you're dribbling the ball and no call, but we did an amazing job of fighting through it, coming back to the ball and helping each other out."

ASHLAND (52) —Pavlich 0-1 0-0 0, Siebenlist 2-3 5-6 10, McKinnis 3-6 0-0 7, Gida 5-8 4-4 15, Heater 8-16 1-2 17, Silbowitz 0-0 0-0 0, Zare 0-4 0-0 0, Petitt 0-1 0-0 0, Del Carlo 1-1 1-2 3. Totals: 19-40 11-14 52.

BEND (45) — Niebergall 5-22 2-2 14, Bruenig 5-10 7-8 14, Friesen 1-4 0-0 2, Danforth 2-7 1-1 5, Schatz 1-9 2-2 4, Cardwell 0-2 0-0 0, Boise 0-1 0-0 0, Salazar 1-4 0-1 2, Taylor 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 15-59 13-16 45.

Ashland 7 16 8 21 — 52

Bend 4 10 18 13 — 45

3-point goals — Ashland 3-5 (Siebenlist 1-1, Gida 1-1, McKinnis 1-2, Petitt 0-1), Bend 2-12 (Niebergall 2-7, Bruenig 0-2, Friesen 0-2, Schatz 0-1). Rebounds — Ashland 34 (Heater 12), Bend (Danforth 7). Assists — Ashland 14 (Gida 7), Bend 7 (Bruenig 2, Boise 2). Steals — Ashland 6, Bend 11 (Bruenig 5, Niebergall 3). Turnovers — Ashland 18, Bend 10. Total fouls — Ashland 16, Bend 19.

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456, ext. 224, or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com