The injuries are piling up for the Ashland Grizzlies, and so are the losses.
MEDFORD — The injuries are starting to pile up for the Ashland Grizzlies, and now so are the losses.
Playing without three starters, including their top two leading scorers, the Grizzlies lost for the third time in their last five games Monday, 60-48, to Cascade Christian, a Class 3A powerhouse.
The most recent addition to the injury list was already hurt, but had been playing anyway. Garrett Tygerson didn't take the floor this time after aggravating a hyperextended knee in Saturday's loss to North Medford. Tygerson joined senior post Talon Haggard and junior guard Adam Pavlich on the Grizzlies' injury list.
Senior guard Jamie Amrhein (14 points) and junior post Jordan Resch (12 points) played well in starting roles, but it wasn't enough, as the Challengers used a 10-0 fourth-quarter run to drop Ashland to 4-5.
"We've just had a lot of injuries, but we'll be OK," Ashland head coach Larry Kellems said. "The good thing is, it's getting these other kids on the court and we're learning what the kids can do and what they can't do.
"(Resch) stepped up and played very well, his best game of the season."
For the Challengers, the nonconference game was more proof that they should be counted among the elite 3A programs. But the way coach Brian Morse sees it, it's merely a building block that will make Cascade Christian state tournament-ready.
"The guys don't care what the class is, but we just wanna get better," said Morse of his Challengers. "We know our goal is to win a state championship, so we wanna play the best teams possible."
As the Challengers (5-1) probably expected, it wouldn't be an easy ride to the finish line.
The Challengers were finally able to fend off the Grizzlies with a late run in the fourth quarter capped by two 3-pointers from the red-hot hands of Jarrod Hess.
Fueled by senior forward Scott Morse, a stellar start kept Cascade Christian in the lead throughout.
Morse scored 10 of the Challengers' 12 first quarter points, connecting on all three of his 3-point attempts in the frame. Morse scored 16 of his 21 points by halftime, but Amrhein's 12-point half kept the Grizzlies within striking distance at the break.
The Grizzlies cut the Challengers' lead to 50-44 early in the fourth quarter.
Colton Cochran provided the spark Cascade Christian needed to distance itself.
Cochran's quick swipe of the ball led to a transition lay-in on the other end and began the Challengers' game-sealing spurt where they scored on five of their next six possessions.
Morse capped the game-clinching run with consecutive trips where he penetrated into the paint and passed the ball off to a wide open Jarrod Hess who splashed in two 3-pointers.
"We played a pretty good first half, but they're a darn good 3A team and they just kept coming at us," Kellems said.
Scott Morse added eight rebounds and five assists while Hess went 5-for-5 from downtown to account for all 15 of his points. Hess also added six assists.
Ashland now has a week off before next week's Summit tournament. The Grizzlies will play Sherwood in the first round. The Bowmen knocked the Grizzlies out of the playoffs last season.
Summit and Lebannon will also be on Ashland's side of the bracket. The other team's in the tournament are Bend, Mountain View, Century and North Salem.
Kellems is just hoping his team can get relatively healthy before league play starts Jan. 6.
"We're not horrible, but we're struggling right now," he said, "there's no doubt about it."
ASHLAND (48) — Sebrell 6, Stone 0, Costantino 6, Kendall 2, Chasmar 7, Amrhein 14, Foley 0, Resch 12, Schwartzer 0, Hansen 1. Totals: 17 10-13 48.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (60) — Siliga 0, Morse 21, Huntley 6, Hess 15, Litton 4, Hoffman 0, Joffer 6, Thomas 0, Rasmussen 0, Pech 0, Cochran 8, Marshall 0. Totals: 21 10-12 60.
Ashland 11 15 15 7 — 48
Cascade Christian 12 17 17 14 — 60
3-point goals — Ashland 4 (Costantino 2, Amrhein 2), Cascade Christian 8 (Hess 5, Morse 3).
Southern Oregon junior post Jacki Speer has been named the Cascade Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week.
Speer went for 20 points and 12 rebounds last Saturday to lead the 20th-ranked Raiders to a 72-64 victory at Northwest University.
The victory improved the Raiders to 9-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Speer leads the Raiders in both scoring (15.5 points) and rebounding (8.4 rebounds) as the Raiders take this week for Christmas.
SOU returns to action next Monday as they travel to Los Angeles to take on NAIA Division I fifth-ranked Azusa Pacific. The Raiders will then face Hope International in L.A. next Tuesday.