It's Ashland-Marist II in play-in round

For the second year in a row the Ashland High girls basketball team will host Marist in a Class 5A state play-in game, and the Grizzlies hope the opponent and venue will be the only repeats of history when the two teams square off tonight at Mountain Avenue Gym.

Last year, the Spartans pulled out a 33-29 play-in victory, ending the Grizzlies' season right in front of their home crowd. Ashland (14-10) can avenge that defeat and advance to the 16-team 5A state playoffs tonight with a win. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

The Ashland boys basketball team will also be trying to extend its season tonight when it faces Bend in a play-in game. Tipoff is set for 7:15 p.m. The Lava Bears (13-8) are ranked ninth in the 5A power poll; Ashland (10-14) is ranked 16th.

The Ashland girls enter the postseason on a hot streak, having won five of its last seven games to secure home-court advantage in the play-in round. The Grizzlies won the Southern Oregon Hybrid 5A league — a two-team mini-conference — by sweeping Eagle Point in their three-game series.

Playing at home is no guarantee for the Grizzlies, however. Ashland is 5-6 at home this season, and will be taking on a Marist quad (14-10) that has proven to be tough when traveling, winning eight of its 12 road games.

The matchup appears to be a toss-up in other ways, too. Ashland is ranked 12th in the power rankings while Marist is 13th, and both teams have beaten Roseburg and lost to Crater.

The Grizzlies, who are led by versatile senior wing Allison Shulenberger, will be looking for their first postseason win since 2010, when they advanced to the 5A state semifinals.

If previous results mean anything, the Ashland boys will have their hands full tonight at Bend. The Lava Bears finished second in the Intermountain Conference, are 7-2 at home and have early-season wins over Eagle Point and Grants Pass — two teams that hammered Ashland — to their credit.

"They're quick, they shoot the 3 very well, and they have one player (senior guard Hayden Crook) who's a very good player," Ashland head coach Larry Kellems said. "(Crook) penetrates a lot off the dribble, and they set a lot of on-ball screens for him and he gets himself into the lane."

Defensively, Kellems said, the Lava Bears play both man-to-man and a 1-3-1 zone, depending on its opponent's ability to hit outside shots.

The Lava Bears will also have a size advantage inside thanks to 6-foot-6 junior wing David Larson.

The Grizz boys will be going for their first postseason victory since they beat Klamath Union in a Southern Sky Conference playoff game in 2010. Last year, Marist throttled Ashland by 15 points in a play-in game played in Ashland.

Ashland will take a four-game losing streak into Bend, but Kellems was encouraged with the way the Grizzlies played in Tuesday's 60-51 loss at Eagle Point. That performance followed a much more dismal 74-51 loss to Crater.

"If we play like we did Tuesday at Eagle Point I think it's going to be a good game and we're going to be in it the whole way," Kellems said. "But, will it be the team that showed up Tuesday night or the team that played Crater? I think if we all show up to play basketball I think it can be a very good game."

Share This Story