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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Pressure defense keys Crater

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CENTRAL POINT — In their Midwestern League opener Wednesday night, the seventh-ranked Crater girls basketball team used its full-court press to give the opposition plenty of fits.

It was no different two days later.

Upping the pressure and disrupting Thurston was the name of the game for Crater, as the Comets used a quick 15-0 first-half run to take command early and roll to a 60-38 win over the Colts in MWL action Friday night.

“It starts, really, with us pressuring the ball,” Crater head coach Scott Dippel said. “I think we’ve applied a lot of pressure to the ball and I think we’ve just gotten better and better at rotating. Our big kids in (Chase) Weaver, Alexa Gugliotta and Lydia Traore are doing such a good job of rotating to passes, deflecting passes and then we’re able to run that down. It’s just disruptive, so it’s hard for teams to get comfortable on the offensive end.”

“We’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined and we do have some things we need to fix,” added the coach, “but right now what you’re seeing is we’re doing a really good job of applying ball pressure and making teams uncomfortable and getting them out of their offensive flow.”

Crater (7-1, 2-0 MWL) trailed 11-7 with less than four minutes off the clock after Thurston (2-4, 1-1) was able to find its most consistent offensive production right out of the gate.

Once the Comets turned up the pressure on defense, however, the tide quickly turned in their favor.

Thanks to its big run to close the first quarter, Crater flipped the score to a 20-11 lead.

“What happened was (Thurston) did a really good job in the press break early and then they started having to make some longer passes,” Dippel said. “We transitioned (on defense) really well and were able to then turn it around in transition on offense.”

As Dippel also pointed out, once the defense started getting stops, things also worked for the Comets in the halfcourt.

Crater senior McKenzie Hirsch recorded eight of the Comets’ first 10 points in the second quarter to push the lead to 30-16. Hirsch filled up the stat sheet, finishing with eight rebounds and eight steals to go along with her team-high 14 points.

“When we didn’t have transition, we were able to get into the halfcourt and McKenzie was able to find the soft spots in (Thurston’s) zone and hit open shots,” Dippel said.

The Comets held the Colts scoreless for a span of 6 1/2 minutes between the first and second quarters, with Thurston’s early rhythm no longer present.

All told, Crater outscored the Colts 31-15 after its early deficit to take a 38-22 lead into the halftime break.

The Comets finished with 25 steals as a team, with 16 of those coming in the first half.

“That span defensively really was our best stand of the game,” Dippel said. “There’s other things we need to fix, but that six minutes really defined the game for us. It’s partly due to playing a lot of pressure on the guards, and we switched with an entire five back in the middle of that period. It just re-energized them and it was difficult for (Thurston) to see five new kids walk onto the floor rested and applying the same pressure.”

Crater sophomore Abigail Winslow also scored in double figures with 11 points, while freshmen Addison Dippel added nine points — all from behind the 3-point arc — and Sage Winslow had eight points.

Traore, whose three-point play started the big first-half run, had five points and eight rebounds, while Weaver also grabbed eight boards.

Joslyn Sizemore added four assists and four steals for the Comets, who have won four straight since suffering their lone loss of the season Dec. 7 to South Medford.

Thurston senior Kodi Chapman scored a game-high 18 points, connecting on five of the Colts’ six 3-pointers.

THURSTON (38): Casley 4, Carpenter 5, Jones 0, Hall 2, Newell 4, Chapman 18, Tovey 5, Custer 0, Granberry 0. Totals: 12 8-16 38.

CRATER (60): K. Gugliotta 4, Sizemore 2, Gish 0, Dippel 9, Weaver 2, Hirsch 14, S. Winslow 8, McCauley 0, A. Winslow 11, Idiart 0, A. Gugliotta 5, Traore 5. Totals: 23 9-17 60.

Thurston1111313— 38

Crater2018139— 60

3-point goals — Thurston 6 (Chapman 5, Casley 1), Crater 5 (Hirsch 2, Dippel 3).

JV result — Crater won.

SOUTH MEDFORD 67, ORANGEWOOD ACADEMY 58: At Garden Grove, Calif., South Medford senior Tanesha Coley came up big with a career-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds and two steals in the nonconference road test.

Junior guard Donovyn Hunter and senior forward Sierra Logue also proved instrumental for the fourth-ranked Panthers (4-1), who outscored Orangewood Academy 19-6 in the fourth quarter to complete a comeback.

Hunter scored 21 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals, while Logue had 18 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

Senior Lottie Dillard added six points and five assists and Tatum Schmerbach had five rebounds for South, which made some defensive changes in the fourth quarter to throw the Spartans off stride in a game that featured a 30-second shot clock.

Washington signee Hannah Stines scored 14 points and Vicky Om also had 14 for Orangewood Academy (7-2).

SOUTH MEDFORD (67): Hunter 21, Dillard 6, S. Schmerbach 2, Ceron 0, Logue 18, Coley 20, T. Schmerbach 0, Fealey 0. Totals: 27 10-10 67.

ORANGEWOOD ACADEMY (58): Moody 2, Mejia 3, Om 14, Belen 12, Stines 14, Brown 13. Totals: 23 6-14 58.

South Medford20141419— 67

Orangewood Academy1918156— 58

3-point goals — South Medford 3 (Hunter 3), Orangewood Academy 6 (Mejia 1, Om 1, Belen 2, Stines 2).

NORTH VALLEY 47, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 24: At Winston, Cascade Christian was unable to record a made field goal for over two quarters and fell to Class 4A North Valley in the opening round of the Douglas Holiday Crossover Tournament.

The Challengers (3-4), who saw their three-game winning streak snapped, only scored via three free throws in the second quarter and one more in the third. As a result, North Valley (4-1) was able to turn a 13-10 lead after the first quarter into a 32-14 advantage heading to the fourth.

Freshman Jordynn Jones led Cascade Christian with eight points.

North Valley’s Sydney Moore finished with 14 points.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (24): Sweem 3, Williams 3, Pierson 2, Roberson 6, Jones 8, Coats 2. Totals: 7 7-18 24.

NORTH VALLEY (47): Moore 14, Hawkins 0, Wheeler 8, Godfrey 5, Godley 4, Touey 13, Fagert 4. Totals: 22 3-13 47.

Cascade Christian103110— 24

North Valley1361315— 47

3-point goals — Cascade Christian 3 (Williams 1, Roberson 2).

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's McKenzie Hirsch steals the ball away from Thurston's Bailey Trovey during the third quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's Abigail Winslow gets fouled going to the hoop during the first quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's Sage Winslow and Alexa Gugliotta trap in Thurston's Rylee Custer during the first quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's Sage Winslow drives to the hoop during the first quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's Lydia Traore fights for a rebound during the first quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Crater's McKenzie Hirsch shoots for two points during the second quarter against Thurston.