Comets hold off Grizzlies for fourth at 5A tourney
As much as it was about big fourth-quarter point totals during their first two games at the Class 5A state tournament, it was the Crater boys basketball team’s defense that got the job done Saturday morning.
Crater limited Midwestern League rival Ashland to just two fourth-quarter field goals and six points total to help the Comets break a 39-all deadlock after three quarters and claim a 50-45 win over the Grizzlies in the fourth-place final at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
“We cranked up the defense,” said first-year Crater head coach Brian Broaddus. “We wanted that early (in the game). I don’t know if the kids didn’t have the legs or what, but we weren’t pressuring them enough in the first half. Javon (Smith) did a really good job pressuring their point guard full-court, we made them cough it up quite a few times.”
Crater senior forward Tate Broesder scored a game-high 23 points — including 14 in the opening half — and pulled down six rebounds, finishing as the only Comet in double figures.
“It was huge,” Broaddus said of Broesder’s offensive contributions. “He wasn’t doing some things we wanted defensively, but thankfully offensively he was one of the only guys attacking the gaps in the zone.”
The Comets’ fourth-place trophy equals the previous best-ever finish at a state tournament by the school in 2019 under Chris Schmerbach, the man who Broaddus took over for this past summer. Crater (23-6), which also finished fifth in 2018, advanced to the state semifinals in 2020 before COVID-19 forced the rest of the tournament to be canceled.
“It was a great season,” said Broaddus, who had previously guided Pendleton and Mountain View to state tournament appearances. “It was supposed to be a rebuilding year. First year with a new coach usually takes a year or two to jell and get the new system going, but 23 wins with a rebuilding year, we’ll take that any day.”
Ashland (16-11), which made its first state tournament appearance since 2007, wrapped a hectic six-week stretch that saw the Grizzlies play virtually nonstop following a 24-day pause after the school went to virtual learning as a result of COVID-19. After returning to the court Jan. 28, the Grizzlies played a total
of 18 games, going 12-6 over that span to finish sixth in the state.
The sixth-place trophy was the Grizzlies’ first trophy at state since 1986.
“It’s hard to put it into words and wrap my head around what it’s been like,” Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky said. “I think it’s going to be some much-needed rest for all the coaches and players coming up. It’s definitely been a unique run that we’ve had.
“To think about that run through the Midwestern League and then four playoff games,” continued Osofsky, “it definitely took all of our energy and everything we’ve had physically and mentally. As a team, we really had to adjust to how we practice, how we scout.”
The Grizzlies opened the game on an 8-0 run and led 16-12 after the first quarter, only to see the Comets take their first lead of the day on a pair of Broesder free throws right before halftime to go into the break in front 25-24.
Ashland held a slight edge in the third quarter, pulling even at 39-all after junior center Egan Shields split a pair of free throws and Hawthorn Lapierre threw down a dunk with 21 seconds to go.
But a 3-pointer by senior Caden Lasater on the Comets’ second possession of the fourth quarter gave the Comets a lead they never relinquished. A layup by Colton Vranes moments later put the Comets ahead 44-39.
The Grizzlies didn’t make a shot for the first 6 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, a drought that was stopped by a Lapierre jumper to cut the Comets’ lead to 46-41 with 1:16 left.
Ashland shot just 8-of-23 (34.8%) overall and 2-of-13 (15.4%) from 3-point range in the second half.
“We got to our spots and felt like we got the looks that we wanted, but the shots didn’t fall in the end,” Osofsky said. “We had a couple of shots rim out — and that’s the story of the game. It’s a make-or-miss game and some of those shots just didn’t go our way at the end.”
Crater senior Logan Price had eight points and seven boards, while Smith added seven points and four assists. Vranes recorded a game-high seven assists.
Shields finished with team highs in points (15) and rebounds (9) and added a pair of assists.
Lapierre, one of Ashland’s two seniors, nearly had a double-double in his final prep game, scoring nine points and pulling down nine rebounds. Izzy Golden chipped in 10 points and four assists.
“Egan, along with the rest of our team, has really put an emphasis on getting better every day,” Osofsky said. “Even though we rely on our seniors heavily, we’re really a young group with just two seniors and we’re mostly juniors and sophomores. To see those guys get better every day, that was really exciting, and that was really true for Egan in this tournament.”
Egan Shields 5-7 4-5 15, Izzy Golden 4-8 0-0 10, Hawthorn Lapierre 3-11 3-4 9, Toby Barnes 2-5 0-0 5, Sean Thompson 1-5 0-0 3, Sebastian Stowasser 1-5 0-0 3, Crosby Lehnerz 0-0 0-0 0, Silas Wright 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-41 7-9 45.
Tate Broesder 8-19 3-5 23, Logan Price 4-5 0-2 8, Javon Smith 3-9 0-0 7, Kadin Price 2-2 1-2 5, Caden Lasater 1-5 2-2 5, Colton Vranes 1-4 0-0 2, Ben Higginson 0-0 0-0 0, Luke Higginson 0-0 0-0 0, Scott Price 0-0 0-0 0, Cody Dutkiewicz 0-0 0-0 0, Marcus Idiart 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-46 6-11 50.
3-point goals—Ashland 6-24 (Izzy Golden 2-6, Sebastian Stowasser 1-5, Toby Barnes 1-3, Egan Shields 1-3, Sean Thompson 1-4, Hawthorn Lapierre 0-3), Crater 6-21 (Tate Broesder 4-11, Caden Lasater 1-3, Javon Smith 1-4, Colton Vranes 0-1, Marcus Idiart 0-2). Fouled out—Ashland-None, Crater-None. Rebounds—Ashland 33 (Egan Shields 9, Hawthorn Lapierre 9), Crater 23 (Logan Price 7). Assists—Ashland 10 (Izzy Golden 4), Crater 15 (Colton Vranes 7). Total fouls—Ashland 14, Crater 11.
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.