Defense down the stretch lifts Gophers past rivals

GIRLS BASKETBALL -- Free throws prove to be the difference in Gresham's 48-42 win
by: David Ball, Gresham's Amiee Frutchey drives to the basket during the Gophers' 48-42 win Tuesday night against Barlow.

The Gresham girls basketball team tracked down every loose ball in the final minutes to secure a hard-fought 48-42 win against rival Barlow on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Gophers' center Sage Cruser hit a free throw to tie the game 42-42 with 2:16 to play. From that point, Gresham used its quickness to stay a step ahead of the Bruins.

The Gophers made their final charge when Cruser and Amiee Frutchey tracked down back-to-back offensive rebounds, allowing Gresham to take precious seconds off the clock and expand their lead from the free-throw line.

'We've been working on getting to the free-throw line and trying to get ourselves some easy shots,' Gresham coach Brian Hills said. 'Those free ones can make a big difference.'

Trailing by three points in the final minute, Barlow tried to find the equalizer from the 3-point arc. But Gresham's defense locked down the outside passing lanes and forced back-to-back turnovers.

With the perimeter sealed off, Barlow made one last attack into the middle, but Cruser got a hand on the shot to turn away the Bruins' comeback hopes.

'It was a bit scary because I had a big girl coming at me, but I really wanted to win this game so I went for the block,' Cruser said.

Gresham's (5-3) win prevented Barlow (3-5) from catching them in the Mount Hood Conference standings at the season's halfway point.

Look for extended game coverage in the Wednesday, Jan. 16, issue of The Outlook.