Mazama bullies Ashland

As Ashland guard Mason Costantino put it, his Grizzlies were on a high horse coming into Friday night.

They were figuratively knocked off that horse by Mazama, and literally knocked around by a physically dominant opponent in a 55-48 home loss that suddenly complicated things at the top of the Southern Sky boys basketball standings.

The Grizzlies (9-6 overall, 2-1 SSC) are now in a first-place tie with Klamath Union and Mazama.

Ashland nearly rallied back from a 10-point third-quarter deficit, but didn't lead once in the final 28 minutes thanks to one of their worst shooting nights of the year — 3-for-17 from behind the arc.

"We came out flat, and we just didn't shoot the ball well at all," Ashland head coach Larry Kellems said. "There are so many guys on this team that can knock down shots, and we usually have at least one or two of them get hot. But it never happened tonight."

Charles Swann led Mazama with a game-high 20 points, and in the process exposed one of Ashland's potential weaknesses (post defense), especially against teams with height.

Swann, a 6-foot-4 lefty forward, scored 16 points in the second half, including eight straight inside at one point. The other Viking starting post, 6-foot-5 Darius Jackson, had seven points but failed to capitalize from the foul line, going 1-for-11.

Ashland's starting posts, meanwhile, had a combined 11 points.

"We knew they were going to present matchup problems for us," said Kellems, whose team doesn't feature a post player taller than 6-foot-2, "but they were tough, jumped well and just played more aggressively than us. We haven't seen a team with two posts like that.

Kellems noted that Ashland's game-plan was to set a fast-paced tempo, but the Grizzlies scored only one basket in transition in the first half and struggled to get easy shot attempts. They didn't get to the free-throw line until midway through the second quarter, either.

Daniel Mathis's jumper to start the third quarter gave Mazama its biggest lead at 25-15 before the Grizzlies began to show some life.

Ian Kendall got Ashland going with back-to-back baskets and a steal that resulted in a free throw, and Mason Costantino followed suit by knocking down his first 3-pointer in four attempts and a turnaround jumper in the lane.

Adam Pavlich found Nino Foley in transition for the second time to make it get Ashland within two going into the fourth quarter.

A Costantino free throw cut it to 37-36, but consecutive buckets inside by Swann and Jackson pushed the lead back to five with five minutes to go.

Two Jackson misses from the free-throw line gave Ashland the ball back trailing by three with a minute left, but the Grizzlies were unable to convert on three consecutive shots attempts before Mazama clinched the game with free throws.

The Vikings finished 11-for-27 from the line as a team, but 10 of those makes came in the fourth frame.

Costantino led Ashland with 14 points, while Foley and Hansen had eight apiece.

"This was a good wake-up call for us tonight, but we're not where we need to be as a team yet. Not even close," Costantino said. "We obviously need to be more physical if we want to beat the better teams, so I guess all we can do is work harder in practice because this just isn't going to cut it."

MAZAMA (55) - Mathis 6, Reinhard 4, Feeback 10, Evans 8, Swann 20, Jackson 7. Totals: 20 11-27 55.

ASHLAND (48) - Foley 8, Chasmar 2, Kendall 5, Hansen 8, Costantino 14, Pavlich 5, Resch 6. Totals: 18 8-15 48.

Mazama 13 10 12 20 — 55

Ashland 8 7 18 15 — 48

3-pointers: Mazama 4 (Richardson 1, Feeback 2, Evans 1), Ashland 3 (Hansen 1, Costantino 1, Pavlich 1). Fouled out: Resch.

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