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Crater girls win fourth straight Christmas Classic

Crater’s suffocating defense stifled Ashland’s offensive attack in the Southern Oregon Subaru Christmas Classic girls finals.

The undefeated Comets set the tone early by turning Ashland over on its first four possessions

en route to a 56-15 victory Saturday at Cascade Christian High.

Crater (7-0), which won its fourth consecutive S.O. Subaru Christmas Classic, forced 30 Grizzly turnovers and came away with 23 steals in holding Ashland to a season low in points scored.

“We’re a young team and made a lot of mistakes,” said Ashland third-year coach Antione Perry. “They played pretty aggressive. We need to do a better job adjusting to the pressure.”

Ashland (2-5) only got off 26 field-goal attempts, while the Comets had 49 shots.

The Comets got excellent performances from a pair of seniors — Alexus Woodard and MacKenzie Ryerson.

“The key thing was we worked from inside to outside,” said Woodard, a three-year starter. “Once we hit our outside shots, the inside becomes a lot easier.”

Woodard, a strong 5-foot-9 senior post, went for a game-high 17 points and grabbed four rebounds. Woodard showed her versatility by sinking all three of her 3-point attempts.

“With my size, I can post up,” said Woodard, “or go out and hit the jumper.”

Ryerson, who tied a school record with seven 3-pointers against Phoenix in the tournament’s first round on Thursday, had 10 points, five steals and three rebounds.

“We’ve been struggling offensively but kept our intensity up,” said Ryerson, who had two treys against Ashland. “You can control the game with your defense. We mixed up our defenses a lot and it confused them.”

Vita Witnauer’s basket off an offensive rebound tied the game for the Grizzlies at 2-all about two minutes into the contest, then a Ryerson 3-pointer began a 15-0 run over the next four minutes.

Maya Elder-Hammond, who led Ashland with 11 points, ended the string before Sydney Gray made one of two free throws to give Crater an 18-4 lead after the first quarter.

The Grizzlies were held to just one point in the second stanza, a free throw by Elder-Hammond, and Crater took a 28-5 halftime lead.

“Defensively we were much more disciplined tonight,” said Crater coach Scott Dippel. “But we weren’t effectively transitioning into our offense after getting steals. We weren’t taking good quality shots.”

Dippel, the principal of Hanby Middle School in Gold Hill, returned as Comet coach this season after a 12-year hiatus. Dippel was the head coach for four years after assisting David Heard for seven.

Dippel was impressed with Woodard’s performance against the Grizzlies: “(Woodard) is starting to recognize she’s difficult to guard. She can play inside and shoot from the outside pretty well. Her best plays were going to the basket or posting up.”

Dippel also had praise for two back-ups — senior guard Mague Duran and junior point guard Eliza Idiart.

Duran had three hustle plays in the second quarter that sparked the Comets, while Idiart, who scored nine points, demonstrated composure while running the offense.

“Idiart did a good job getting us into our half-court sets,” said Dippel. “She kept us disciplined.”

This was the Comets’ best performance of the season according to the Comet coach.

“Tonight we got moving in the right direction,” said Dippel. “We didn’t want to play to the score. We wanted to play with the same intensity the entire game and I felt like we did that.”

And Ashland certainly wouldn’t disagree.

ASHLAND (15): Altig 0, Voskes 0, Sollinger 0, Barnes 0, LaCoste 0, Elder-Hammond 11 Summers 0, Witnauer 4, Rodriguez 0. Totals: 7-26 1-2 15.

CRATER (56): Idiart 9, Van Hook 0, Ryerson 10, Robison 0,n Duran 0, Gray 5, Ellis 8, A. Woodard 17, Young 5, K. Woodard 2. Totals: 19-49 11-24 56.

Ashland;4;1;4;6;—15

Crater:a18;10;16;12:—;56

3-point goals — Crater 7 (Idiart 1, Ryerson 2, Gray 1, A. Woodard 3). Fouled out — Elder-Hammond.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-7765-4480 or fsilow@mailtribune.com

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Crater junior Eliza Idiart looks shoot past Ashland junior Sarah Summers on Saturday. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]
Crater junior Sydney Gray shoots the ball in front of Ashland senior Maya Hammond-Elder and teammate Alexus Woodard during the Southern Oregon Subaru Christmas Classic at Cascade Christian High on Saturday. The Comets won, 56-15. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]