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Gaston girls win twice to kick off league play

Gaston rolls past Faith Bible and Vernonia as the league season gets under way

Gaston will learn a lot more about where its stands in the Northwest League girls basketball pecking order after winter break, but so far the early returns are extremely encouraging.

Fresh off a non-league win over Sheridan at the Banks Holiday Tournament, Gaston earned its first two league victories of the year, beating Vernonia 63-33 last Tuesday and adding a 46-25 triumph over Faith Bible on Friday.

It wasn't exactly two league heavyweights, but Gaston head coach Erik Lentz is still excited about his team's early-season performance.

'We're not looking too bad,' he said. 'We've played pretty well and we won our first two league games, so we're happy with that.'

Against Vernonia, Gaston (4-1) had four players score in double figures, led by Cassie Van Dyke's 23-point effort. The junior point guard shot 9-for-14 from the field and added three assists, helping the Lady Greyhounds build a 21-point halftime lead that was never threatened.

Carlie Gilbertson and Lyndsey Lumley added 12 points apiece for Gaston, while Maricruz Gomez finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tina Turner contributed 15 rebounds for the Greyhounds.

'That was a good game because we don't always play up to our level,' Lentz said. 'Sometimes we play down to the level of our competition - we'll get into a ragged game against a team that plays a ragged style.

'Against Vernonia I thought the starting group played real well, and the kids we brought in off the bench all had a spark to them. It was a good game.'

Three nights later against Faith Bible, the Hounds had three players score in double figures, once again led by Van Dyke, Lumley and Gilbertson. That trio also led the team in scoring in tournament games against Sheridan and Rainier, and in Gaston's season opener against Jewell.

'Those three girls are going to be between 10 and 20 points almost every night,' Lentz said. 'If we can do that, force some turnovers and keep our own turnovers down, we should be able to compete with anybody.'

Gaston will put that theory to the test following winter break, when the Hounds resume league play with games against Portland Christian and Riverdale, the league's top two teams from a year ago.

'After break we've got a stretch where we play the two teams that are probably the class of our league,' Lentz said. 'They were co-league champs last year and both programs return a lot of kids.

'I have an idea of where we're going to be - right now we're probably third or fourth, but I don't see why we can't beat either of those teams.'

The Greyhounds will tune up for league play at the Gervais Cougar Classic next week, where they will face Clatskanie in the opening round, followed by a game against the host Cougars. League play resumes on Jan. 3 with a home game against Neah-Kah-Nie, then the Hounds will set their sights on Portland Christian and Riverdale.

'We're playing pretty decent. This is pretty much where I expected us to be at this point,' Lentz said. 'We've only had one really close game and we pulled it out. All the other ones have been nice because we've been able to get a lot of kids some playing time.'