With a new season brought a clean slate for the Ashland High girls basketball team.
And after the first night of the year, the Grizzlies can also say the new season has brought new results.
Kendyl Abel scored a team-high 17 and Nina Munson added 13 as Ashland opened the 2018-19 season with a 55-51 victory over Klamath Union in non-league action at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
“It was good for us because we had a rough season last year,” said Ashland head coach Antione Perry, whose team had previously lost its last 14 games dating back to last season’s Midwestern League opener on Jan. 5. “We’re trying to change the culture and rebuild it this year. We had a 10-point lead late in the game and the girls had to learn how to close the game out.”
The Grizzlies (1-0) trailed for much of the first half, as Pelicans guard Shielteal Watah scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the opening half, including 15 in the opening period alone.
Ashland outscored Klamath Union (0-1) 11-6 in the second quarter to pull within a point, 24-23, at the halftime break.
And the Grizzlies continued their solid play right into the second half.
Perry credits the Grizzlies’ ability to play defense and rebound as what turned the tide in his team’s favor.
“We really started rebounding the ball in the second half and it was more us improving on our defense,” Perry said. “It’s a short time between when can start practicing and usually your offense is ahead of your defense. Sometimes we don’t realize that we have some good size on our team and we get a little lazy, but they were really crashing the boards hard. We cleaned things up in the second half and limited second-chance points.”
The Grizzlies made three 3-pointers in the game, one each by Jayd Sollinger, Jackie Moran and Vita Witnauer.
Watah was the lone Pelican to score in double figures. Aaliyah Powless and Jadha Wells both added eight points in the loss for Klamath Union.
Ashland returns to the court against North Valley on Saturday afternoon as of a doubleheader with the Grizzly boys. Due to a wrestling tournament taking part at Mountain Avenue Gym, the games will be played at Southern Oregon University’s Lithia Motors Pavilion, with the girls game starting at 3:15 p.m. and the boys scheduled to tip off at 4:30 p.m. in their season opener.
KLAMATH UNION (51): Mendez 0, Charkins 7, Powless 8, Anderson 2, Bustamante 0, Mahan 4, Wells 8, Watah 22. Totals: 16 18-36 51.
ASHLAND (55): Altig 4, Wilson 0, Sollinger 6, Moran 5, Baldwin 4, Larson 3, Munson 13, Witnauer 3, Abel 17. Totals: 18 18-29 55.
3-point goals — Klamath Union 1 (Charkins 1); Ashland 3 (Sollinger 1, Moran 1, Witnauer 1)
Technical foul — Klamath Union (bench)
Fouled out — Watah; Witnauer, Munson
JV result — Ashland 43, Klamath Union 31
Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.