MEDFORD — The Grizzlies made their final tune-up before Midwestern League play begins quite the thriller.
KJ Pippa scored what proved to be the go-ahead basket and Nate Desmond split a pair of free throws to put his team up two as the Ashland High boys basketball team held on to beat South Medford 61-59 in overtime on Tuesday night.
“One of our assistant coaches said in the huddle (before overtime) to go get 10 points and win this thing — and we got 10 points,” Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky said. “That’s pretty cool to have something like that happen.”
Pippa and Desmond led the charge from the very beginning of the night for the Grizzlies, as the two combined to score 35 points in the win.
Pippa scored five of his game-high 23 points in the overtime period, while Desmond did plenty of damage in the first half and finished with 13 points.
“They were huge,” Osofsky said. “They were both patient within our offense. They both knew they had mismatches on them and were patient and were finding places in our offense to attack.”
Ashland (3-2) — which is on a win-every-other-game pattern through the first two weeks of the season — opens up MWL play on the road Friday night against Willamette (2-1).
Ashland led virtually the entire first half, but was outscored 28-22 by South Medford (0-5) as the Panthers were able to force overtime.
The two teams traded 3-pointers to open OT, with Lowell Saulsbury scoring his lone points of the night to tie the game up again.
A pair of Pippa baskets proved to be what put Ashland in front for good.
“We went into a zone (in overtime) and I think shifting into a zone caught (South Medford) off-guard,” Osofsky said.
Sherman Hunter finished with a team-high 18 points and hit all four of the Panthers’ 3-pointers in the game. Jude Pannell added 17 points, while Trent DeBoer had 10.
Ashland’s Anthony Smith came off the bench to score 11 points in the win.
“He’s averaging eight minutes a game this season but played 20 minutes against South,” Osofsky said of Smith, a junior point guard. “It was a shift in our rotation and we felt like we needed a spark — and he provided that.”
ASHLAND (61): Pippa 23, Smith 11, Wallner-Sentle 4, Ekwall 7, Sanford 0, Saulsbury 3, Sayre 0, Carter 0, Desmond 13. Totals: 26 7-17 61.
SOUTH MEDFORD (59): Hunter 18, Shepard 2, DeBoer 10, Bettero 6, Smith 0, Sleezer 2, Harmon 0, Pannell 17, Ramsay 4. Totals: 21 13-19 59..
South Medford71617118— 59
3-point goals — Ashland 2 (Pippa 1, Saulsbury 1), South Medford 4 (Hunter 4); Fouled out — Saulsbury.
JV result — South Medford 63, Ashland 41.
ASHLAND 52, MAZAMA 42: At Ashland, sophomore wing Jayd Sollinger scored a game-high 22 points and Ashland used another strong second-half showing to record a comeback win over Mazama at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium.
The Grizzlies (3-2) trailed 24-20 at halftime, but outscored the Vikings 13-2 in the third quarter to flip the game in their favor.
“That third quarter really changed the game for us,” Ashland head coach Antione Perry said. “We made a little push to keep it close (in the second quarter) and the second half they really played strong defense, not letting (Mazama) get easy shots. We were able to get easy shots.”
Sollinger added eight rebounds to go along with her big night on offense.
Ashland junior guard Nina Munson also finished in double figures, recording 11 points to go along with three steals and five rebounds.
Mazama senior Maddy Lease scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the first half and was the lone Viking to score in double figures. Sophomore Macy Clemens added nine points in the game.
Ashland will be on the road to open league play, traveling to Eugene to face Willamette at 5:15 p.m. on Friday night.
MAZAMA (42): Clemens 9, M. Lease 19, Hill 4, K. Lease 5, Kappas 2, Spoon 0, Jeffrey 0, Strong 3, Erickson 0. Totals: 14 10-11 42.
ASHLAND (52): Altig 0, Sollinger 22, Barnes 2, Baldwin 0, Larson 2, Munson 11, Summers 0, Witnauer 2, Rodriguez 7, Abel 6. Totals: 17 17-23 52.
3-point goals — Mazama 4 (Clemens 1, M. Lease 2, K. Lease 1); Ashland 1 (Sollinger 1). Fouled out — K. Lease.
JV result — Mazama won.
Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.