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Gladiators fire up in a heated title chase

Gladstone and Molalla are Capital Conference leaders after four games

GLADSTONE - If conference games played last week are any indication, the Capital Conference boys basketball title chase is going to be a wild affair this year.

At the completion of play last week, Gladstone (10-6, 3-1) and Molalla (8-8, 3-1), two teams which finished at the bottom of the conference standings a year ago, were the only conference teams with fewer than two losses in conference.

The Gladiators last week upped their stock with wins over 2007 state finalist Stayton (48-46) and over North Marion (74-66).

Defending conference co-champion Cascade (9-7, 2-2) handed Molalla its first conference loss in a barnburner on Friday, 41-40.

The ninth-ranked La Salle Falcons (10-4, 2-2) fell to unheralded Estacada (6-9, 2-3) in a 45-44 nailbiter on Saturday.

'I'm not surprised at all,' said Gladstone coach Ted Yates. 'It's anybody's league. I knew we'd be in the thick of things, somehow, some way. I think it's going to be a dogfight to the end.'

The Gladiators were in a dogfight last Friday, when they dropped 2007 conference co-champion Stayton 48-46.

The game was tight all the way. The Gladiators owned a 21-19 lead at halftime, and a 35-34 lead heading into the final period.

Buckets by Taylor Taft and Andy Applebee, and free throws by Bubba Armstrong and Dueford Adams expanded the Gladiators' lead to seven points, at 48-41, with less than a minute to play.

But things got scary down the stretch.

Stayton 5-11 freshman wing Coby Proctor hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to trim the gap to 48-44.

The Gladiators turned the ball over on their inbounds pass, and senior Corbin Moberg scored for Stayton with 4.5 seconds remaining to make it 48-46. And the Gladiators hung on for the hard fought victory.

Shooting statistics reflect the closeness of the game. Each team made 18 field goals. The Gladiators were 9-of-20 from the free throw line; the Eagles were 6-of-12.

Taft (10 points on 4-of-6 shooting) was the only Gladiator to reach double figures in scoring.

Applebee and Evan Muffenbier added eight points apiece.

Adams played a pivotal role, with four steals and three assists.

Junior Trenton Hartsell, a 6-6 post, scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Eagles.

The Gladiators have a couple of key contests coming up as they conclude the first round of conference play. They play at Cascade on Friday and they battle La Salle on the road next Tuesday.

Glads tame

Huskies 74-66

AURORA - The Gladstone Gladiators showed up with their game faces on and took charge of the game early en route to a 74-66 win at North Marion on Jan. 15.

It was a season high for the Gladiators in boys basketball.

Six different Gladstone players put points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, as the Gladiators burned the nets and rolled to a 20-8 advantage. The outcome was never in question after that.

Taylor Taft and Andy Applebee led the charge. The two Gladstone juniors scored 19 points apiece, which was a season high for both players.

'We're becoming a very good passing team,' said Gladstone coach Ted Yates. 'We were executing and getting good shots, and we forced some turnovers with our press.'

Yates said his players forced 20 turnovers, while committing only three turnovers. And they had assists on 18 of their 26 baskets, as they found the mark on better than 50 percent of their shots from the floor.

Taft and Bubba Armstrong dished out four assists apiece; Applebee and Willy Yates had six assists between them.

Adams joined Taft and Applebee in double figures in scoring with 16 points.

Taft and Jake Chappell had three steals apiece.

Had it not been for North Marion junior point guard Steven Grigsby, the game would have been a blowout. Grigsby was unconscious from downtown, as he hit six 3-pointers and tallied 31 points on the night.

Armstrong and Nick Maszy contained Husky offensive star Kelly Maguire, holding him to just five points.