ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — The Grizzlies didn’t let an inauspicious start from the field throw them off kilter.
But a 12-point first-quarter deficit turned out to be exactly where the game ended.
The Ashland boys basketball team hung tough with Servite-Anaheim (Calif.) in its opening game at the George Whittell Invitational, but the Grizzlies were unable to dig themselves completely out of an early hole for the second straight game in a 53-41 loss to the Friars on Friday afternoon.
The Grizzlies (1-2 overall) were able to cut the Friars’ lead down to as little as eight points in the fourth quarter.
“We played outstanding defense, and I’m really proud of how we played,” Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky said. “Servite is a big, athletic team and for us to stay in front of them and give ourselves a chance to win with two minutes to go ... If we have a few more shots fall then it’s an entirely different game.”
Gabe Ekwall scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the second half to lead the Grizzlies’ comeback bid, hitting all three of his 3-pointers after halftime.
Osofsky said that senior guard KJ Pippa, who had only five points in the game after leading the Grizzlies in scoring in Tuesday night’s loss to Roseburg, “had one of the best defensive performances he’s ever had” against Servite.
Freshman guard Tajavis Miller finished with a game-high 17 points in the win for Servite (7-4). Miller hit four of the Friars’ five 3-pointers in the game.
Friars junior guard Kunal Bagga added 15 points, while senior forward Christian Martinez had nine.
“To meet a team that’s a private, Catholic, all-boys school in Southern California that is part of the Trinity League and plays against the likes of Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, it’s big for us,” Osofsky said.
Ashland concludes tournament play this evening against Incline (Nev.), a team the Grizzlies will be playing for the third straight season.
SERVITE (53): Moon 6, Miller 17, Lembo 0, Bagga 15, Martinez 9, Holliday 0, Woodson 0, Rivera 0, Chelling 6. Totals: 17 13-17 53.
ASHLAND (41): Pippa 5, Smith 4, Walner-Sentle 2, Ekwall 13, Hanks 0, Sanford 2, Saulsbury 6, Swanson 0, Sayre 0, Carter 2, Desmond 7, Harris 0, Lapierre 0. Totals: 14 7-10 41.
3-point goals — Servite 5 (Miller 4, Bagga 1); Ashland 6 (Ekwall 3, Saulsbury 2, Desmond 1).
DOUGLAS 42, ASHLAND 37: At Winston, a tough shooting night for Ashland prevented the Grizzlies from picking up their second consecutive road win as they fell to Douglas.
Ashland junior guard Nina Munson filled up the stat sheet in the loss, recording a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. She also had four assists, four rebounds and hit two of Ashland’s three 3-pointers.
Munson and sophomore wing Jayd Sollinger (13 points) accounted for 33 of Ashland’s 37 points in the game, as the Grizzlies shot just 30 percent from the field.
Douglas’ Amy Dickover scored 16 of her team-high 18 points in the first half, recording all but two of the Trojans’ points before halftime. Douglas (2-1) led 18-15 heading into the break.
Ashland (2-2) plays Mazama at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
ASHLAND (37): Sollinger 13, Barnes 0, Baldwin 0, Larson 0, Munson 20, Summers 0, Witnauer 2, Rodriguez 1, Abel 1. Totals: 12 10-21 37.
DOUGLAS (42): Parson 6, Hall 3, Phillips 6, Snuka-Polamalu 3, Gillis 0, Davis 3, Thorp 3, Dickover 18. Totals: 42.
3-point goals — Ashland 3 (Sollinger 1, Munson 2); Douglas 1 (Hall 1). Fouled out — Munson, Witnauer, Rodriguez, Abel.
JV result — Douglas won.
ASHLAND BOYS, GIRLS FINISH SECOND: At Marshfield, both Ashland High swim teams finished second behind host Marshfield during a three-way meet at the Mingus Pool.
The Grizzlies’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of Baylor Wiggins, Chris Frownfelter, Oliver Del Rio and Griffin Bagshaw picked up Ashland’s lone win on the boys side.
As a team, Ashland finished with 178 points.
Ashland’s Mary Down claimed the Grizzlies’ lone individual win of the afternoon in the 100 breast stroke, finishing with a time of 1 minute, 21.77 seconds.
The Ashland girls finished with 160 points.
Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.