The road to the Class 5A state basketball tournament looks pretty smooth and straight for the Ashland High girls.

The road to the Class 5A state basketball tournament looks pretty smooth and straight for the Ashland High girls.

The AHS boys, on the other hand, may need a pit stop or two.

The fifth-ranked Grizz girls enter tonight's Southern Sky Conference game at Crater with a two-game lead over the second-place Comets in the league standings. Both teams have four conference games left on their schedule. Since the Grizzlies (16-5, 8-0 SSC) won the first two games between the league rivals, thereby clinching the head-to-head tie-breaker, tonight's game presents an opportunity for Ashland to secure the top seed in the conference tournament and an automatic berth to state.

The SSC tournament, to be held Feb. 25-27, will determine which three schools out of the five-team league will head to state, and where they will be seeded.

The Ashland boys (13-7, 6-2 SSC) also control their own destiny, but can't afford another stumble like last week's heartbreaking home loss to Mazama, when the Vikings overcame a seven-point deficit in the last 90 seconds. The Grizzlies enter the last round of the SSC's triple round robin tied with both Mazama (14-5, 6-2) and Klamath Union (15-6, 6-2) for first place in the league standings. The Grizzlies host Crater tonight, then hit the road for back-to-back games against Klamath Union (Friday) and Mazama (Feb. 19) before finishing up at home against Eagle Point (Feb. 23).

Since the Southern Sky Conference will send only two boys teams to state this season, every team other than the league champ will have to win two SSC playoff games in order to snag one of those berths (the league champion automatically qualifies). The Grizzlies can avoid that pressure by winning out.

The SSC boys league tournament will also be held Feb. 25-27.