Ashland High senior post Matt Lipski powers his way to the basket against Klamath Union Tuesday at Mountain Avenue Gym. The Grizzlies won to clinch their second straight Southern Sky Conference boys basketball title. Photos from both the boys and girls games in the

The Ashland High boys basketball team clinched its second straight Southern Sky Conference championship with a hard-fought 59-47 win over Klamath Union Tuesday night at Mountain Avenue Gym.

The Grizzlies (15-9, 10-1 SSC), who will host a playoff game March 7, did the bulk of their damage in the paint, using a distinct size advantage to create easy shots and dominate the rebound battle.

Ashland ran its offense through 6-foot-9 senior center Matt Lipski early on. Lipski's opposition, 6-foot senior Evan Gallagher, was no match for the big man and the Grizzlies used the size advantage to get out to an early 10-3 lead.

Gallagher kept the Pelicans (10-10, 5-6 SSC) close as he slithered through the lane for six first-quarter points. All five Ashland starters scored in the first quarter and the Grizzlies held a 14-11 lead through one.

KU put together a 6-0 run early in the second and took its first lead of the contest midway through the stanza, 17-16. Later in the quarter, Klamath junior Eric Chadderdon tallied eight straight points on a pair of free throws and back-to-back deep balls. With a minute left in the half, the Pelicans had all the momentum and a 27-20 lead.

Ashland coach Larry Kellems took a timeout.

After the huddle, senior Dillon Thigpen led a 5-0 Grizzly scoring run to end the half, 27-25 Pelicans.

Thigpen said his coach preached defense in the locker room at halftime.

"Our defense was lacking a lot," Thigpen said. "We didn't have the energy we should've had. Coming out and more pressure on the ball was one of the main things he said."

Kellems switched to a 2-3 defensive scheme. The change turned the tide Ashland's way in the third quarter as Lipski and Thigpen led a 13-2 scoring run to begin the second half.

Ashland's 38-29 lead seemed strong midway through the third, but Klamath never said die.

KU sophomore Randy Denson hit a pair of 3-pointers. Ashland racked up six team fouls. Lipski was charged with an offensive foul which led to a technical foul called on the Grizzly bench. In just over two minutes, the Pelicans had gone on a 10-1 scoring rally and the game was tied at 39.

A deep ball by Thigpen and a free throw by junior Charlie Sebrell ended the third quarter with Ashland leading 43-39.

Scoring slowed in the fourth quarter and with less than four minutes remaining Ashland still clung to a four-point lead at 46-42.

Klamath stayed cold late while the Grizzlies finished the game with a 13-5 run.

Ashland's Thigpen led all scorers with 19. Lipski tallied 14 points along with eight rebounds and three blocks. Seniors Jesse Javna and Cameron Clement each scored eight points and Clement led the Grizzlies in assists with three.

Denson led the Pelicans with 15 points while Gallagher and Chadderdon each scored 12. KU senior Mark Brooks scored eight and led the Pelicans in rebounds with four.

Ashland out-rebounded the Pelicans 28-12. Ashland shot 59 percent from the floor to Klamath's 47 percent. The Grizzlies made 68 percent of their 19 free throw attempts while the Pelicans made only 4 of 8 from the stripe.

Kellems believes the task of containing a quick KU squad will prepare the Grizzlies for what they might see in the playoffs and perhaps the state tournament.

"These guys are a different style," Kellems said. "We like that. We need to be battle-tested going into the playoffs."

The conference-clinching win marks the realization of multiple preseason team goals. While the Grizzlies were guaranteed a piece of the conference title after Mazama upset Crater on Saturday, Tuesday's win gives Ashland the distinction of sole conference champion.

"We wanted to earn it outright and we did tonight," Kellems said. "We're (at) 10 wins. At the beginning of the year we talked 10 wins was what it was gonna take to win the league. And there we are."

After a harsh state tournament exit a year ago, the seven seniors on the squad are bent on finishing their high school careers with a bang.

"It means a lot," Thigpen said. "Our group of seniors have been wanting this. It's what we've been working for every summer. This is a really big win for us."

KLAMATH UNION (47) &

Denson 15, Brooks 8, Chadderdon 11, Amos 2, Gallagher 11, Foster 0, Lundy 0. Totals: 18 4-8 47.

ASHLAND (59) &

Thigpen 19, Javna 8, Sebrell 1, Clement 8, Moskowitz 1, Tygerson 4, Lipski 14, Raymond 2, Wilson 2. Totals: 22 13-19 59.

Klamath Union 11 16 12 8 ""47

Ashland 14 11 18 16 ""59

3-point goals &

Klamath union 7 (Denson 4, Chadderdon 3), Ashland 2 (Thigpen 2). Technical foul &

Ashland bench.

JV score &

Ashland 61, Klamath Union 50.

Girls basketball

Brenna Heater had 16 of her 20 points in the first half and finished with 12 rebounds as Ashland capped its undefeated season in the Southern Sky with a 66-29 win over Klamath Union.

Allison Gida amassed 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists and six steals for the No. 3-ranked Grizzlies (23-2, 12-0 SSC), while Kelsey McKinnis netted 16 points.

Opposite of Heater, Ashland post Natalie Del Carlo scored all 10 of her points in the second half.

Ashland, which has won 23 games in a row, will host a playoff game Feb. 29.

KLAMATH UNION (29) &

Holloway 8, Doshier 8, Choukalos 5, Gilbert 0, Walker 0, Cesena 2, Bliss 0, Luther 2, Kellom 4, Whitcraft 0, Roberts 0. Totals: 11 4-5 29.

ASHLAND 66 &

Heater 20, Del Carlo 10, Gida 15, Petitt 0, McKinnis 16, Siebenlist 1, Zare 2, Silbowitz 0, Pavlich 0, Van Vleck 2. Totals: 29 7-9 66.

Klamath Union 4 5 10 9 "" 29

Ashland 13 20 19 14 "" 66

3-point goals Klamath Union — (Doshier 2, Holloway 1), Ashland — (McKinnis). Fouled out &

Bliss.

JV result &

Ashland won.

Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.