The Ashland High girls basketball team isn't ready for the big time just yet. That point was driven home Wednesday against a team that's already been there.

Playing against defending Class 5A state champion Willamette, the Grizzlies saw three of their top players hampered in the first half as the Wolverines, a veteran squad, jumped out to an early double-digit lead on their way to a 51-26 nonconference victory.

Ashland junior guard Kelsey McKinnis received a cut on her eye while underneath the basket and had to be taken to the hospital just minutes into the season opener for both teams. The prognosis after the game for McKinnis was positive. She'll likely only miss a couple days and could play as soon as Friday. Junior Koko Petitt replaced McKinnis but was limited after a recent bout with mononucleosis.

Quickly after McKinnis went out, Ashland junior Brenna Heater, a 6-foot-3 post, picked up her second foul and was quiet the rest of the night, finishing with five points.

The Wolverines pressured Ashland into 23 turnovers in the game while jumping out to a 33-15 lead at the break.

"I don't want to say we didn't work hard," Ashland first-year coach Steve Farley said, "I think we worked hard, but there's a difference between working hard and having that intensity that (Willamette) had. I think that was the big difference in the game."

Sophomore guard Allison Gida led Ashland with 10 points, while Rachel Pavlich added three rebounds. Heater also contributed four boards and three steals.

Alyxe Bruns had a game-high 19 points for Willamette, and Ashley Smith had 12 points, six rebounds and six of Willamette's 12 steals. Katie Collins dished out five assists.

The Lady Wolverines held Ashland to 7-for-27 shooting.

"We started to do some things right," Farley said. "They are still learning all new stuff. I told them that this doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of what our goals are for the season. We're trying to put ourselves in position to win a league title and win a state title. That doesn't come from winning your first game. We need to continue to get better.

"The biggest thing is keeping positive and not thinking it's the end of the world."

Ashland next hits the road for this weekend's Crescent Valley tournament, which will also include Canby and Thurston.

WILLAMETTE (51) &

Bruns 19, Garner 4, Bullard 0, Smith 12, Harper 2, Collins 3, Munson 2, Jordon 9, Duke 0. Totals: 16 14-18 51

ASHLAND (26) &

VanVleck 5, Pavlich 0, Silbowitz 3, Zare 1, Siebenlist 0, McKinnis 0, Petitt 0, Palmesano 2, Gida 10, DelCarlo 0, Contreras 0, Heater 5. Totals: 9 6-9 26

Willamette 16 17 9 9 "" 51

Ashland 5 10 5 6"" 26

3-point goals: Willamette 5 (Bruns 2, Collins 1, Jordon 2), Ashland 2 (VanVleck 1, Silbowitz 1). Fouled out &

Gida

JV score &

Willamette 29, Ashland 18

Prep hockey

At Medford, Lewis Sebrell scored six goals to lead Ashland to a 15-8 victory over Crater in a season-opening hockey game at The RRRink.

The Grizzlies led 4-1 after one period and 10-5 heading into the third period. Casey Skolnik added a hat trick for Ashland, while Ben O'Donnell and Josh McLaughlin each had two goals. Stephen McLaughlin and Sam Taylor also had goals for the Grizz, while Stephen McLaughlin contributed three assists, Josh McLaughlin and Trevor Perry each had two and Kai White added one assist.

Bryce Crawford paced the Comets with three goals, with Mitch Fuller (two goals), Cody Martin (one goal), Tate Stevens (one goal) and Alex Hagemann (one goal) also contributing on the offensive side. First-year goalieKyle Smelcer stopped 26 of 34 shots sent his way for Ashland. Crater goalie Alec Williamson thwarted 20 shots on 35 attempts.

The contest featured checking, which was instated during a vote held in April by youth hockey board members. The previous four seasons were played without checking.

Crater hosts South Medford at The RRRink on Saturday, while Ashland takes on Eugene in a nonleague contest, also at The RRRink.

Ashland and Crater meet again on Jan. 16, 2008.

Ashland 4 6 5 ""15

Crater — 4 — ""8