Comets grounded by Central

Crater’s season may have ended with a resounding thud, but the Comets are hoping a return trip to the Class 5A state tournament, combined with a signature postseason victory, will be a building block for the future.

Facing a daunting back-to-back against the tourney’s Nos. 2 and 3 seeds, the 10th-seeded Comets crashed down to earth Wednesday morning at Gill Coliseum with a 62-26 season-ending loss to Central in the consolation bracket.

Crater (21-7), which finished third in the Midwestern League, put up a game effort the previous night in losing to second-seeded La Salle Prep, then ran into a buzzsaw in the form of third-seeded Central.

The only consistent offense the Comets managed to generate came in the second quarter, when Nehkyah Ellis knocked down three 3-pointers to account for nine of the Crater’s 13 points in the period.

Unfortunately for the Comets, in the first, third and fourth quarters, they were held to just 13 points combined.

Ellis finished with nine points and nine rebounds for Crater, which shot 23 percent from field and gave up 32 turnovers that led to 28 points for Central. The Panthers also dominated in the paint, outscoring Crater 46-8.

Meagan Mendazona contributed a solid all-around performance with 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for Central (22-5), which faces Crescent Valley in the fourth/sixth-place game on Friday.

Crater started the game with good defensive intensity, but repeatedly gave up offensive rebounds that changed the momentum of the game, Crater coach Scott Dippel said.

“That really deflated us pretty quick,” Dippel said. “That just wore on us.”

“We were pretty gassed by the time we got to halftime,” he added. “I think last night, having less than 12 hours to turn around, it really showed in that first half.”

Sensing the game’s outcome had already been decided, Dippel cleared his bench in the second half.

Crater’s youthful bench “defended with some energy,” Dippel said, and got significant court time against Central’s starters.

A standout was freshman guard Taryn Dance, who began the season on the junior varsity roster and had played only sparingly. Dance — among several younger players who have made “great strides” during recent practices while serving as the scout team — converted a pair of baskets and was the Comets’ second-leading scorer for the game with four points.

“They got a real good game feel and I was proud of them,” Dippel said.

In addition to seeing higher intensity and learning the value of every possession, Crater’s younger players benefited from watching their two senior teammates, Mackenzie Ryerson and Lexi Woodard, prepare to compete in high-level the tournament.

“Even though we were two-and-out, that definitely passes on to the younger kids,” Dippel said.

Crater qualified for the double-elimination tournament Friday by upsetting seventh-seeded Wilsonville on the road.

Dippel said he expects to decide within the next week or so whether or not he will return to coach the Comets next season. Hired with an interim coaching status, he was initially approached to fill in this one season until the program could find a long-term solution.

“Whether that happens or not, I want these kids to be successful, obviously,” said Dippel, who is the principal of Hanby Middle School and has three daughters under age 12.

“Regardless of what (my decision) is, it’s been a great season and the future is super bright,” he added.

CRATER (26): Nehkyah Ellis 3-8 0-0 9; Taryn Dance 2-4 0-1 4; Mackenzie Ryerson 1-4 0-0 3; Madisan Bowers 1-1 0-1 2; Sydney Gray 1-5 0-0 2; Alexus Woodard 0-4 2-2 2; Maya Van Hook 0-2 2-4 2; Presley Robison 1-5 0-0 2; Kayana Woodard 0-2 0-0 0; Averi Young 0-1 0-0 0; Eliza Idiart 0-3 0-0 0; Faith Westbrock 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 9-40 4-9 26.

CENTRAL (62): Meagan Mendazona 9-16 1-3 19; Elizabeth Chavez 6-12 1-2 16; Annika Riddell 4-9 2-4 10; Katelyn Trevino 3-9 0-0 7; Moana Andrew 2-2 0-0 4; Mariah Hyre 2-3 0-0 4; Lexy Barba 1-11 0-0 2; Natya Gonzalez 0-0 0-0 0; Bailey Padilla 0-2 0-0 0; Bailie Hartford 0-2 0-0 0; Kennedy Kantola 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-66 4-9 62.



3-point goals — Crater 4-19 (Nehkyah Ellis 3-7; Mackenzie Ryerson 1-3; Sydney Gray 0-1; Alexus Woodard 0-3; Presley Robison 0-2; Kayana Woodard 0-1; Eliza Idiart 0-1; Taryn Dance 0-1), Central 4-16 (Elizabeth Chavez 3-5; Katelyn Trevino 1-2; Lexy Barba 0-6; Meagan Mendazona 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Crater 33 (Nehkyah Ellis 9), Central 45 (Meagan Mendazona 11). Assists — Crater 7 (Alexus Woodard 2; Mackenzie Ryerson 2), Central 11 (Meagan Mendazona 6). Total fouls — Crater 11, Central 13. Technical fouls — None.

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