They lose at Cascade, but still find themselves in a four-team logjam for first place

TURNER - The Capital Conference boys title chase appears to be a real dogfight this season.

Through play last week, every team in the league had at least one league win. Four teams were tied for first place, and preseason favorite La Salle was next to last in the standings, with a 2-3 record.

Gladstone (10-7, 3-2), Cascade (10-7, 3-2), Molalla (8-9, 3-2) and Stayton (7-9, 3-2) finished last week tied for the league lead.

Estacada (7-10, 3-3) was fifth, and the Rangers have been one of the league's hottest teams of late. Since losing to North Marion on Jan. 18, they've posted league wins over La Salle (45-44) and over Molalla (46-45).

La Salle dropped a 43-42 heartbreaker at Stayton last Friday, while Gladstone came up short at Cascade (52-37).

'It's hard for us to match up with [Cascade's] size,' said Gladstone coach Ted Yates. 'They've got kids 6-10, 6-5 and 6-2, while our biggest guy is 6-2. We can't miss shots when we play a team like that, because we don't get second shots.'

Plagued by lukewarm shooting, the Gladiators last Friday found the mark on only 16-of-46 (35 percent) of their shots from the floor.

Taylor Taft was the only Gladstone player who could find the basket. The 6-0 Gladiator junior tallied a game-high 17 points, connecting with 8-of-13 success, with one 3-pointer.

Gladstone trailed 22-20 at halftime. The Cougars took charge in the third period, when the Gladiators made only 4-of-12 shots from the floor.

Justin Lowder, a 6-4 forward, and 6-2 guard Kyle Coots led a balanced Cougar attack, with 11 points apiece. Ryan Hibdon, a 6-10 post, scored eight points and hauled down his share of rebounds.

Gladstone was to conclude the first half of the league season at La Salle (10-5, 2-3) on Tuesday (Jan. 29). The Gladiators travel to Molalla for a 5:30 p.m. game with the Indians on Friday.

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