Gida leads Grizzlies to another Rotary title

The prospect of facing a familiar foe brought out the best in Allison Gida.

The Ashland High junior point guard scored a career-high 26 points and the Grizzlies held South Medford star Brittany Newcombe to a season-low seven in a convincing 58-34 triumph on Saturday at McNeal Pavilion.

"I've played with her before and played against her before, so we know how each other play," Gida said of the matchup with Newcomb, a first-team All-Southwest Conference performer last season who had averaged 22.3 points in the Panthers' first three games. "Sometimes I get a little scared and nervous, but today I was confident."

Newcomb picked up three early fouls and didn't score from the field in the first half. Gida, on the other hand, outscored the entire South Medford squad, getting 15 as the Grizzlies (2-4) jumped to a 31-12 edge at intermission. Ashland was crowned the winner of the Ashland Rotary Classic for the fourth straight year after inclement weather reduced the tournament field to just two teams.

The Panthers played man-to-man defense, allowing Ashland to spread the floor and Gida to find room to drive to the basket.

"She got in transition and she can take the ball to the hole," Ashland coach Tom McCracken said of Gida, last season's Southern Sky Conference Player of the Year. "I don't care who's guarding her, she's going to get that done."

The game was a showcase for the up-tempo style that both Gida and McCracken prefer. It's a big difference for a team that had grown accustomed to having a dominating low-post presence in Brenna Heater. Heater, who averaged 16 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season and has signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at the University of California, underwent reconstructive surgery on her right ankle on Sept. 29 and hopes to be able to return in February.

"We're planning on playing the season without her," McCracken admitted. "If she happens to join us, that's a plus."

In the meantime, it will be up to Gida and senior wing Kelsey McKinnis to carry the bulk of the scoring load. McKinnis added 12 against the Panthers and leads the team with a 16.7 ppg average through six games.

"Our offense is geared toward opening the floor more to let our guards do more stuff," McCracken said. "We have an offense that we're working on that (Heater) would fit into. We're still going to up tempo."

Senior Sheena Barkley led the Panthers (1-3) with 10 points.

The victory was important for Ashland, which snapped a two-game losing streak and plays its next eight games on the road, beginning Tuesday night at North Medford.

"Maybe we're not where I'd like to have been," McCracken admitted. "We need to get better at boxing out, we need to take care of the ball better. There are some things we need to improve on."

"But we've got another three weeks before league starts. Our goal is to be a good basketball team come Jan. 6," which is the Southern Sky Conference opener. "We're definitely making strides."

SOUTH MEDFORD (34) — Barkley 10, Newcomb 7, Batten 6, Morris 4, Becker 2, Hubbard 1, Curtis 3, H. Picknell 1, Carraway 0, T. Picknell 0, Corona 0, Totals 11 12-23 34.

ASHLAND (58) — Gida 26, McKinnis 12, Del Carlo 3, Van Vleck 5, Contreras 2, Palmesano 6, Michiels 4, Pavlich 0, Reynolds 0, Petitt 0, Totals 22 12-20 58.

South Medford 3 9 11 11 — 34

Ashland 12 19 16 11 — 58

3-point baskets: South Medford 0, Ashland 2 (Van Vleck, McKinnis). Fouled out — Del Carlo. Total fouls — South Medford 14, Ashland 14. Technicals — None.

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