ASHLAND — The postseason scenarios were simple for the Ashland boys basketball team entering Friday night's regular-season finale.
Win, and the Grizzlies are in a play-in game for the OSAA Class 5A state tournament. Or, at the very least, have the team the Grizzlies entered the day tied with, North Eugene, lose in its final game of the regular season to Springfield.
With its 82-65 loss to Marist at Mountain Avenue Gymnasium, the Grizzlies were made to wait and hope some help came their way — and that’s exactly what happened. Thanks to Springfield’s 50-42 win over North Eugene (5-19 overall, 3-11 league), Ashland (7-17, 3-11) claimed the Midwestern League’s sixth-place spot via a tiebreaker, as the Grizzlies’ season has officially been extended at least one more game.
Ashland will play on the road at the third-place finisher from the Mid-Willamette League, Crescent Valley (14-10, 9-5), on Wednesday night.
“You never want to be in a situation where you’re not in control of the next game and having one more,” Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky said. “I think that it’s a good opportunity for us to reset, recognize the things that have been challenging for us, recognize the things that have been successful and just try to get better.
“We’ve seen the No. 2 team (in Class 5A) twice, we’ve seen the No. 3 team twice, we’ve seen the No. 4 team twice and those haven’t always been the same teams when we’ve faced them. We’ve seen top 10 teams all year, so we know where we stand in the state and that’s the beauty of playing in a league like this.”
The difference Friday night came in the second quarter, as the Spartans caught fire and outscored the Grizzlies 26-8 in the period.
Utilizing an inside-outside game that featured seniors Isaac Zachem and Jack Courtemanche, Marist used a quick 17-6 run to flip a 19-18 Ashland advantage into its first double-digit lead of the night at 35-25 with two minutes to go before halftime.
Zachem — who scored 21 of his game-high 31 points in the first half and hit four of his team’s eight 3-pointers — and Courtemanche combined to record the Spartans’ first 21 points of the night.
Courtemanche, a 6-foot-6 center, had 12 points in the win, while Spencer Fransenn added 11.
As much as Ashland tried to fend off the Spartans’ height advantage with a zone defense, Marist was able to control things down low, scoring 18 of its 44 first-half points in the paint.
“We’ve seen it before, so we have calls and we have looks to try and work against that,” Osofsky said in regard to Marist’s inside-out game. “But, at times, when a kid gets hot, a kid gets hot and you have to tip your cap to them. (Marist) played a great game and really shot the ball well. They got into a rhythm, and I’d say part of it is from their execution and part of it was from those few minutes in the second quarter.”
Four different Grizzlies scored in double figures on Friday night, led by senior Anthony Swanson’s 14 points, 10 of which came in the second half.
KJ Pippa and Joseph Wallner-Sentle each had 12 points, while Adam Jones added 10.
The Grizzlies, who trailed 44-25 at halftime, got as close as trailing by 16 points early in the third quarter after a 3-pointer in the left corner by Wallner-Sentle and Jones’ basket in transition.
With the game out of reach late in the fourth, Osofsky took his three seniors — Swanson, Adam Jones and Curtis Jones — out one-by-one to have them acknowledged by the crowd.
While it was the Grizzlies’ final home game of the season, they know that Friday night wasn’t the last hurrah until next winter.
“When you have faced teams like we have and faced teams that are that good, we believe we can win,” Osofsky said. “They challenge you to be at your best, and we’ve been required to be at our best. At times, we’ve gotten some really impressive wins out of it, and at times we’ve had some losses where we’ve walked away and said, ‘Hey, if we can build on that, we can be at our best like we have been at stretches this season, then we’ll be for anybody we face.’”
MARIST (82): B. Morehouse 0, Franssen 11, Collins 0, Coleman 9, Hopkins 7, Zachem 31, S. Morehouse 0, Hart 0, Courtemanche 12, Whittaker 4, Krier 8. Totals: 30 14-17 82.
ASHLAND (65): Pippa 12, Swanson 14, Wallner-Sentle 12, Ekwall 6, Olson 0, A. Jones 10, Shibley 2, Smith 0, Desmond 2, Saulsbury 2, C. Jones 5. Totals: 25 10-15 65.
3-point goals — Ashland 5 (Wallner-Sentle 2, A. Jones 2, C. Jones 1), Marist 8 (Coleman 2, Zachem 4, Krier 2).
JV result — Marist won.
MARIST 66, ASHLAND 33: At Ashland, the Grizzlies concluded their 2017-18 season with a loss to the MWL regular-season champion Spartans.
Freshman wing Jayd Sollinger scored a team-high 10 points for the Grizzlies, while sophomore guard Nina Munson added nine. Sollinger recorded both of Ashland’s 3-pointers in the game.
Marist (21-3, 13-1) outscored Ashland 22-4 in the second quarter to go into halftime up 41-15.
Kayley Elliot’s game-high 15 points paced a balanced Spartans offense that saw four players score at least eight points on the night.
Ashland finished its season with an overall record of 3-21 and 0-14 in the MWL.
MARIST (66): C. Eagen 9, Conway 0, Williams 9, Cary 0, Harding 3, Stephenson 0, Elliot 15, Doerr 6, McKenney 8, Husk 0, Flcek 4, Johnson 6, L. Eagen 6. Totals: 26 7-10 66.
ASHLAND (33): Altig 0, Voskes 4, Sollinger 10, Barnes 0, Gorringe 3, Munson 9, Elder-Hammond 2, Summers 1, Witnauer 2, Rodriguez 1, Abel 1. Totals: 11 9-22 33.
3-point goals — Ashland 2 (Sollinger 2), Marist 5 (Williams 1, Elliot 1, McKenney 2, L. Eagen 1).
JV result — Marist won.
Danny Penza can be reached at 541-776-4483 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.