Ashland High girls basketball coach Ashley Hafner liked the baseball team's motto so much, she stole it for her own team. So far, "Love the grind" is working on the hardwood, too.
The Ashland Grizzlies surged ahead for good in the third quarter, then withstood a late push by Eagle Point to secure their most important win of the season, 48-43, Tuesday at Mountain Avenue Gym.
Georgia Williams had 15 points and six rebounds, and Hanna Greenberg added eight points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Grizzlies.
Recap: Ashland outscored Eagle Point 16-5 in the last five-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter to build a five-point lead en route to the SOH 5A win.
Up next: Ashland at North Valley, 6 p.m. Friday.
Ashland outscored the Eagles 16-5 over the last 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, then hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to claim the first of two games between the Southern Oregon Hybrid 5A rivals.
"This weekend we had big improvements in terms of learning to play with passion and letting that out on the court," Hafner said. "There's a fine line between passion and frustration and learning to really harness your frustration and use it as passion to make sure that you are doing positive things on the court," she said, "instead of letting your frustration get the better of you. That really paid off."
Eagle Point senior forward Kinsey Bradshaw capitalized on her size advantage inside to net 16 points, including 10 in the second half, while teammate Adrienne Wood added 15. But after bouncing back from a miserable opening quarter, the Eagles struggled again in the third, then missed their only shot at reclaiming the lead in the fourth when Wood back-rimmed a 3-point attempt with her team down one and 1:40 on the clock.
Down 45-43 with 25.5 seconds to go, the Eagles (7-9) had a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line, but Bailey Lester missed the front end of a one-and-one and Williams tipped the rebound to herself.
The Eagles then sealed their fate with a key mistake, intentionally fouling an Ashland player away from the ball with 12.1 seconds left — a violation that gave the Grizzlies (8-9) two free throws plus possession. Greenberg drained both free throws, hit another moments later and Ashland dribbled out the clock after rebounding a miss on her final attempt.
"We were playing defense and we were just connecting on the offensive side and getting steals, and then we kind of just lost it, stopped playing defense," Bradshaw said. "We were letting them have every pass that they wanted and were turning it over."
The win was Ashland's third in its last four games and gives the Grizzlies a leg up in the two-team league race. The Grizzlies and Eagles will meet once more in the regular-season finale for both teams, Feb. 21 at Eagle Point.
Ashland raced out to leads of 9-2 and 17-9 in the first half before Eagle Point, which hit just 2 of 10 field goal attempts in the first quarter, clawed its way back. Wood led the charge, sinking three 3-pointers on her way to an 11-point second quarter. Her banked-in trey sparked a 13-4 Eagle Point surge, which she also capped with a step-back 3 in the closing seconds, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game, 22-21, at the half.
The Eagles continued their turnaround to start the third, but it didn't last. Back-to-back fastbreak layins by Wood gave EP a 29-23 lead. Ashland's Hannah Teixeira made a 3 with five minutes to go to get the Grizzlies going. Leilani Sukles scored back-to-back buckets to put the Grizzlies ahead to stay, 34-32. Greenberg's reverse layup made it a four-point game, and a free throw by Greenberg put Ashland ahead 39-34 heading into the fourth.
Eagle Point had its chances in the fourth, but couldn't cash in.
With the Eagles down two and 1:23 to go, Lester went to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game. She missed the front end of the one-and-one attempt, but teammate Kylene Briggs pulled down the rebound and called a timeout. On the ensuing play, Kayla Nielsen's entry pass sailed over Bradshaw's head and out of bounds.
Teixeira was fouled at the other end and hit both free throws to make it a four-point game again.
"It's really exciting for them to sit back and realize what they've just done," Hafner said. "All their hard work that they've put in — they're in on Saturdays, they're watching film, they're working out in the weight room, they're doing all this stuff — and it's nice to see it paying off in games finally. They're stoked."
EAGLE POINT (43) — Wood 15, Lester 3, Briggs 6, Nielsen 3, Bradshaw 16, Hoefft 0, Morris 0, Alden 0. Totals: 17 5-12 43.
ASHLAND (48) — Williams 15, Greenberg 8, Teixeira 6, Dunn 7, Sukles 4, Turner 6, Read 2, Kasiah 0, Walker 0. Totals: 18 10-18 48.
Eagle Point 4 18 12 9 — 43
Ashland 9 12 18 9 — 48
3-point goals — Eagle Point 4 (Wood 3, Nielsen 1), Ashland 2 (Teixeira 1, Dunn 1). Fouled out — Bradshaw, Turner.
JV result — Eagle Point won.