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Cavers stave off Comets

Stephanie Pepperling came up big when Grants Pass needed it most Tuesday night, helping the Cavers escape Central Point with a 48-46 girls basketball victory over host Crater.

After the Comets had rallied to take a one-point lead with 1:02 to play, Pepperling got behind the Crater defense for a layup and later added a free throw to help thwart the potential upset.

"She hurt us in transition tonight," said Crater coach JT Thomas of the 5-foot-6 senior guard. "We didn't get kids back with her consistently and that's where she got most of her points. When she got out again late in the game, that's the one that really hurt us."

Pepperling finished with 12 points to lead Grants Pass (3-1), which had to overcome a concerted effort by Crater (2-3) to deny standout forward Natasha Torgerson. The 6-foot-1 post, who has already signed to play for Division I Sacramento State, was limited to one point.

"We don't have size this year so our defensive focus was really focused on how to take away the inside game with a real good post player in Torgerson," added Thomas. "Obviously, our kids did a real good job of swarming on her tonight."

Brianna Britton, a 5-9 sophomore, was given the task of slowing Torgerson.

"Bri's a very physical player and she did a real good job of getting Natasha off her spot on the inside," said Thomas. "And we put a lot of pressure on the perimeter so they also had a tough time entering the ball to her tonight."

Jennifer Noon led the Comets with 13 points and 12 rebounds for her first varsity double-double, while Ashlee Saling added eight points and Chelsea Sullivan had seven points.

Noon also added four steals, two blocks and one assist to go with solid help-side defense on Torgerson.

"She really had a good stat line for us tonight," Thomas said of the 5-10 junior. "She did a great job."

Grants Pass opened an eight-point lead in the second quarter before Crater rallied to trim its deficit to 22-19 at halftime.

The Cavers built a similar cushion in the fourth quarter before the Comets again fought back to finally pull ahead for a short-lived lead in the final minute. Crater answered with a turnover, and another GP basket gave the Cavers enough of a cushion to hold off the Comets.

Despite outrebounding the Cavers by a 27-15 margin, Crater hindered its cause by committing 27 turnovers compared to only six by GP.

"Those are youthful mistakes, kind of preseason type of errors by a young team that's learning how to command their attention on the floor at times," said Thomas. "But the kids played with a lot of heart and played all the way down the stretch with a chance to win, so we're pretty pleased with that."

GRANTS PASS (48) — Pepperling 12, Loffer 8, Aguilera 7, Wonsyld 7, Lathen 6, Soares 6, Torgerson 1, Leddy 1, Stephenson 0, Bennett 0. Totals: 19 10-25 48.

CRATER (46) — Noon 13, Saling 8, Sullivan 7, Steel 5, Kappel 4, Powell 3, Bonney 2, Britton 2, Cobb 2, Hills 0, Murphy 0. Totals: 16 5-17 46.

Grants Pass 11 11 16 10 — 48

Crater 6 13 13 14 — 46

3-point goals — Crater 9 (Noon 3, Sullivan 2, Saling 2, Steel 1, Kappel 1). Fouled out — Kappel.

JV result — Crater won.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Crater's Chelsea Sullivan goes up to block the shot of Grants Pass' Mary Lathen (31) during Tuesday's game in Central Point.