Gladstone improves to 5-4 with a 58-44 win over Estacada in a holiday tournament

MONMOUTH - The Gladstone Gladiators were encouraged by their play at the Central Invitational boys basketball tournament, held on the college-sized floor at Western Oregon University Dec. 21-22.

After suffering a tough 56-51 loss to the host Central Panthers in their opener, the Gladiators bounced back to stop Capital Conference rival Estacada 58-44 in Saturday's third-place final.

The Gladiators executed a patient half-court offense with precision to put the Rangers away. They built an 18-12 lead in the first period and never looked back.

'We only had three turnovers and we won the battle of the boards,' observed Gladstone coach Ted Yates.

The margin of victory would have been even greater, except that Estacada's Jordan Nation (17 points) caught fire from long range, connecting on 4-of-8 three-point attempts.

Guards Andy Applebee (15 points), Taylor Taft (10 points) and Dueford Adams (8 points, 5 assists) headed a balanced Gladiator offensive effort.

Bubba Armstrong (4 steals), Applebee (3 steals) and Evan Muffenbier (3 steals) led the charge on defense.

'We had control the whole game,' said Yates. 'We were able to turn to a patient offense in the second half and score on lay-ins.'

The Dec. 21 game with Central was one that the Gladiators let get away from them.

They led by as many as 9 points late in the game, but they got out-scored 25-11 in the final period.

'They're the most physical team we've played all year and fatigue showed up,' said Yates. 'We had a lot of turnovers down the stretch. They'd steal the ball and score on lay-ups.'

The Gladiators had 22 turnovers on the night, with the most costly coming at 'crunch time.'

Adams (15 points, 6 assists) headed up the Gladiator offense.

Armstrong hauled down 9 rebounds.

'Take away the turnovers and we win going away,' said Yates.

The Gladiators (5-4) traveled to Cottage Grove for a tournament last weekend.

They begin Capital Conference play Friday when they entertain Molalla.

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