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Hounds split two league games

Gaston girls get a much-needed win over Knappa but drop a close one to Faith Bible

Gaston got off to a good start, but Faith Bible had the staying power.

When these two girls basketball teams squared off for the first time this winter back on Dec. 19, Faith Bible pulled out a 31-29 win after rallying to force overtime. The Falcons didn’t wait so long to make their move in the rematch last Thursday in a Northwest League game played at Forest Hills Lutheran in Cornelius.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD
 - Gaston's Daisy Clark (5) and Charity Hall (12) double-team Faith Bible senior Malia Masters during last Thursday's Northwest League game.

“The first time, we were just trying to figure things out,” Faith Bible head coach Eddie Kirkpatrick said. “And this time, we know how to execute. We don’t always do it, but we know how now.”

In a contest where points were hard to come by, Gaston surged into the early lead, but Faith Bible had the better run of play over the final three quarters in a 29-18 victory.

The Falcons improved to 13-6 overall and 8-2 in Northwest League play. The Greyhounds, who are battling for the fifth and final league playoff spot, dropped to 5-14 and 3-7.

“We were just all really out of it today,” Gaston’s Taylor Bassel said. “We had two really good games in a row and we were just probably a little overconfident in (ourselves), and we just need to keep working on it, working on our mistakes.”

After Jordan Cleary opened the scoring with a layup shortly after tipoff, the Hounds went on a 7-0 run. Amber Becker got the visitors on the board with a 3-pointer. Then a putback by Charity Hall and a Becker bucket on a Madi Watkins assist had Gaston up 7-2 about three minutes in.

But that would be the Hounds’ best stretch on offense for the night. Featuring one of the top defenses in the Class 2A ranks, Faith Bible allows just 27 points per game, and they gave up only 11 the rest of the way in this one.

In fact, Gaston wouldn’t score again in the first quarter and added just two points in the second, when Hall scored off an inbounds pass.

Trailing 7-5 after the first eight minutes, the Falcons went on a 20-7 run over the second and third periods. They went 5-for-6 collectively from the free throw line in that span and also found success with some smart plays to get players open for easy looks near the basket.

“I think cooperation as a team, patience on offense, and our always hard work on defense,” was what Cleary said worked for the Falcons.

Faith Bible really took control in the third quarter. After Julia Clark kicked off the second half with a jumper to make it 15-11, that stout Falcons defense held Gaston scoreless until the final minute of the stanza. Meanwhile, Faith Bible converted several close-range looks, including two by Malia Masters, to build a 23-11 lead.

Two Jessica Irving free throws helped Faith Bible take a 25-14 lead into the fourth quarter, when bench players from both teams saw quite a bit of action, and the squads combined for just four field goals the rest of the way.

Becker scored five points for Gaston and Hall had four. Masters led all scorers with 10 points and Cleary added nine.

“We were excited about this one,” Hounds head coach Travis Martin noted. “It just didn’t go our way.”

It did go the Hounds’ way, however, two days earlier. In last Tuesday’s 43-35 win against Knappa (3-16, 3-7), Gaston turned the tables on a Loggers side that had bested it 45-30 back on Dec. 17.

Kaitlyn Landwehr put up a game-high 20 points for the visitors, but the Loggers couldn’t match the Hounds’ depth. Hall scored a team-high 15 points, Watkins added seven, and Diana Lewis and Becker chipped in six apiece.

Gaston led 18-15 at the half and 36-27 after three quarters to build up a lead that Knappa couldn’t overcome in the fourth quarter.

Results of the Hounds’ pivotal game against Nestucca (5-13, 2-8) on Tuesday were unavailable at press deadline.

Gaston ended the week tied with Knappa for fifth place in the league standings, with Nestucca one game behind. The league champion automatically qualifies for the Class 2A state playoffs, while the second- through fifth-place squads advance to a league playoff that determines the final two postseason berths.

Gaston continues league play on the road against Life Christian at 6 p.m. on Friday.