Ashland good as Gold-en in win over Thurston
You could understand if anybody wearing an Ashland basketball jersey lost count of how many lead changes there were Friday night.
The last lead change, though, that’s one the host Grizzlies will most certainly remember.
Izzy Golden’s 3-pointer from well behind the arc right as the buzzer sounded capped a furious comeback in the final minute to give Ashland a 54-51 win over Thurston in the Midwestern League boys basketball opener for both schools at Mountain Avenue Gym.
“To end practice, we always finish with special situations, so we did a whole walk-through of getting to certain spots — and that was one of the spots we talked about (Thursday night),” said Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky. “I did not make that (final play call) from the bench, though. Izzy got to that spot on his own and hit the shot of his life.”
Thanks to a 6-0 spurt, Thurston (6-6, 0-1 MWL) held a 51-46 lead with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
But Golden’s first 3-pointer within the final minute of play cut it to a two-point deficit, 51-49. After getting a big traveling call to get the ball back, Ashland tied the game at 51-all with 17 seconds left on a baby hook from the baseline by Silas Wright.
“Down five with under a minute is a tough place to be,” said Osofsky, “so for some big shots that were hit, one of the forgotten plays is going to be Silas hitting a really tough shot with 17 seconds left. For him to get that shot to go down, gave us the tie and gave us a chance.”
Thurston fouled on three different occasions to get to six fouls, the final of which put the Grizzlies in position to inbound the ball in the frontcourt.
Golden moved to his left as he received the ball, then got the shot off with time to spare.
The result was nothing but net — then his teammates tackling him at the same spot hit attempted his game-winner.
“It looked good,” said Osofsky, “but when Izzy shoots the ball I always think it’s going in.”
Golden finished with 16 points and hit four of the Grizzlies’ nine 3-pointers. Eyera Nogues and Sean Thompson each scored 13 points, while Wright made it four of the five Ashland starters in double figures with 10 points.
Walker Bonar, Nate Stiffler and Hunter James each scored 12 points to pace Thurston, while Luke Newell added 11 points.
“Both teams moved the ball really well, had great possessions, got open looks,” said Osofsky. “I thought the difference was we shot a little bit better in the first half and they rebounded a little bit better, so that kept us even the whole night.”
A back-and-forth contest throughout, neither team led by more than seven points the entire night.
Those leads were short-lived with subsequent runs to answer.
Ashland held a slim 31-29 lead at the half before scoring just seven third-quarter points to head to the final period trailing 41-38.
Thompson put the Grizzlies ahead 46-45 with a transition layup before the Colts pulled ahead entering the final minute.
That set the stage for one last run for Ashland.
“Every game in the Midwestern League is an absolute dogfight and it’s so hard to find wins in this league,” said Osofsky, “so to get a win like that to start 1-0 in this league against one of the teams that we think is one of the better teams in the league is huge for us. We’ve played some really good basketball against some really good teams and come up just a little bit short over the last month — we’ve had four straight single-digit losses and we know it was going to be tough to break that streak against Thurston, but that’s a heck of a way to do it.”
THURSTON (51): Blackwell 3, Newell 11, Bonar 12, Blair 2, Stiffler 12, James 12, Mills 0. Totals: 21 3-6 51.
ASHLAND (54): Stowasser 0, Lehnerz 0, Golden 16, Wright 10, Thompson 13, Nogues 13, Hermogenes 0, McNamara 2. Totals: 21 3-3 54.
3-point goals — Thurston 7 (Blackwell 1, Bonar 1, Stiffler 1, James 4), Ashland 9 (Golden 4, Wright 2, Nogues 3). Technical foul — Thurston bench.
JV result — Thurston won.
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.