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Hounds lose epic clash with Vernonia

Furious fourth-quarter rally falls short for Gaston in a 77-76 overtime loss

The Gaston boys basketball team thumped Neah-Kah-Nie last Tuesday to notch its first win of the year, but it was actually a one-point loss in overtime the following night that had the team and its fans flying high.

Gaston (1-4) crushed Neah-Kah-Nie 71-31 to start the week, getting 20 points from senior Parker Bolden and a 16-point, 10-rebound effort from Cody Fassold to cruise past the overmatched Pirates.

It was Wednesday's game against Vernonia that got the Greyhounds fired up, however. The Loggers (2-4) held a seemingly insurmountable 56-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter only to see Gaston go on a remarkable 33-10 run to tie the game and force overtime. Vernonia would eventually pull out a harrowing 77-76 win in the extra session, but the comeback left Gaston head coach Larry King shaking his head in amused bewilderment.

'It would have been nice to win that one,' he said. 'But we were down so far, in some ways we didn't even deserve to win it.'

Gaston trailed by 20 points with a shade over three minutes left before going on an incredible run that saw the Hounds pull within two, then tie it up at 66-66 with time winding down.

'We were pressing them up and down the court,' said King. '(Vernonia) just got kind of tired and we finally started making some shots. That last three minutes was pretty wild and crazy.'

Bolden once again led the way, scoring 16 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Nick Brunswick added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Fassold was good for 11 points and five boards.

Gaston hung close in overtime, but ultimately allowed Vernonia to build a 77-73 lead after Fassold fouled out of the game. Bolden hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the outcome had already been determined by that point.

'It was an amazing game,' said King.

The Hounds forced 30 turnovers in the game, but shot just 21 percent from the field, including an 8-for-42 performance from beyond the arc. Ryan Lewis had 11 points and six rebounds, and freshman Marcos Zamora chipped in eight points and five boards.

'He's starting to play more like a sophomore every game,' said King of his rapidly developing newcomer.

On Tuesday against Neah-Kah-Nie, Gaston got off to its typical slow start but raced to a 41-16 halftime lead on the strength of a 30-point second quarter.

'Things finally started to click in the second quarter,' said King. 'That's how it's supposed to look. It was a nice home opener.'

The Hounds' full-court pressure rattled the Pirates, forcing 29 turnovers that led to a slew of easy baskets. Joel Fordyce had 11 points in the win, and Brunswick added 11 rebounds and two points.

Gaston shot the ball a bit better on Tuesday, knocking down 31 percent from the field, but the team continued to struggle from 3-point range, making just 7 of 38 attempts.

The Hounds have another busy week on tap, with conference play starting Tuesday against Nestucca. The team then travels to Portland Christian on Thursday.

'I just want to get out of there alive,' said King of Thursday's game. 'The consensus is that Portland Christian should walk to a 2A state championship this year.'