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Ashland uses big game-closing run to beat Willamette

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As they’ve continued to shake off the rust from not playing for 3 1/2 weeks, the Ashland boys basketball team hasn’t let the long layoff impact the bottom line — picking up wins.

Using an impressive 19-5 game-closing run that spanned seven minutes, Ashland recorded a 57-49 comeback win over visiting Willamette at Mountain Avenue Gym on Tuesday night to make it two wins in as many Midwestern League games since coming back from the school’s 24-day COVID-19 pause.

“Wins in the Midwestern League are hard to come by,” said Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky. “You have to battle every night to get a win in this league, but I thought it started in practice for us. The boys committed to a high-intensity environment and it got us game ready. That allowed us to be prepared for the moment and come out and go 2-0 and get back in the swing of things.”

Ashland senior Hawthorn Lapierre and junior Egan Shields both finished with double-doubles. Lapierre, one of the catalysts during the Grizzlies’ fourth-quarter run, scored a game-high 22 points and had 12 rebounds, while the 6-foot-10 Shields had 15 points and also grabbed 12 boards.

Toby Barnes scored all five of his points in the fourth quarter and chipped in six assists and five rebounds.

“(Willamette) played really well all night and I thought we were really consistent,” said Osofsky. “We didn’t really turn the ball over all night — it was a season-low for turnovers for us with six.”

A close contest throughout, no team led by more than five points until Willamette (9-6, 5-4 MWL) — which was coming off a 67-66 win over No. 8-ranked Crater over the weekend — pushed its lead to 44-38 on a 3-pointer from Kayden Sandow less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

Osofsky called timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

And from that point on, it was all Grizzlies.

Ashland (6-5, 3-1 MWL) took the lead once and for all on Barnes’ jumper from the elbow that made it 45-44. Lapierre pushed it to a three-point lead moments later when he was able to successfully convert a third attempt of his own miss.

Barnes then gave the Grizzlies their largest lead of the night, 50-46, with 3 1/2 minutes to go when he hit a 3-pointer of his own from the top of the arc, pushing the Grizzlies’ run to 12-2.

Sebastian Stowasser hit the second of his two 3-pointers with two minutes remaining, getting on the receiving end of a slick inbound play along the baseline near the Ashland bench to get the Grizzlies’ lead nearly to double digits for the first time at 56-47.

Shields capped the run with a huge dunk off a pass from Barnes.

“That fourth quarter, when we called a timeout with about seven minutes left, we drew up a play for Hawthorn and he got a 3 out of it,” said Osofsky, “So to come out and execute that play and let that spark a run like that to close out a game, that’s pretty special.”

Mike Small led Willamette with 12 points, while Kheanii Lesane and Parker Bracy both had 10.

“It was great to see the guys do that,” said Osofsky of his team’s ability to turn the game in its favor. “These guys have really trusted each other all year. They’re really comfortable playing with each other, they trust each other, so those are things we see every day in practice.

“We’ve just been so banged up — this was just our third game since Dec. 14 with a full roster — so to get a rhythm and finally have those guys all back on the court together, it just felt like it was bound to open up at some point and great timing for it to open up in the fourth quarter.”

WILLAMETTE (49): Lesane 10, Bracy 10, Brooks 4, Sandow 3, O’Roy 4, Small 12, Long 6, Hemphill 0, Lin 0, Stavros 0. Totals: 19 5-6 49.

ASHLAND (57): Stowasser 6, Lapierre 22, Golden 7, Wright 2, Barnes 5, Shields 15, Thompson 0, Lehnerz 0. Totals: 21 10-15 57.

Willamette1710148— 49

Ashland12161019— 57

3-point goals — Willamette 6 (Bracy 1, Sandow 1, Small 2, Long 2), Ashland 5 (Stowasser 2, Lapierre 1, Golden 1, Barnes 1).

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Ashland's Toby Barnes dives as he tries to steal the ball during the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game against Willamette.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Ashland's Egan Shields throws down a dunk during the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game against Willamette.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Ashland's Hawthorn Lapierre drives to the basket during the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game against Willamette.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Ashland's Sebastian Stowasser shoots a 3-pointer during the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game against Willamette.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Ashland's Egan Shields shoots for two points during the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game against Willamette.