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Warriors claw past Gaston

Warrenton hangs on for a 46-43 victory in nonleague action

Coming off three straight losses and staring down the barrel of a fourth, Gaston boys basketball coach Jake McGraw saw something exciting from his squad on Saturday afternoon.

Grit. Intensity. Fortitude. Determination. Pride.

Call it what you want, but McGraw is calling it encouraging after watching his team battle back despite being down late in a nonleague contest against Warrenton.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Gaston senior Ian Mann takes a shot to the face from Warrenton's Christian Holt on a drive to the basket during Saturday's game.

“We were down eight (points) with about a minute and a half left, and that was probably the most exciting minute and a half of basketball that we’ve played all year,” McGraw said. “We’ve lost quite a few games this year, but the fact that we were able to keep playing hard and fighting for a win instead of rolling over and dying, that was exciting and extremely encouraging.”

The Greyhounds weren’t able to pull off a miraculous comeback, instead dropping a 46-43 decision to the visiting Warriors, but McGraw said he saw lots of positives in the losing effort.

“The energy and intensity that we had late in that game, that was impressive,” the first-year coach said. “It was exciting. It was definitely a winnable game, but we let them go on a little run (in the second half) and we just couldn’t get it all back.

“Still, I was just really impressed with the way they fought for it right up to the end of the game.”

Senior Ian Mann carried the offensive load for Gaston, scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds, including four offensive boards.

On the other end of the floor, McGraw said he was pleased with the defensive play of Nick Steele and Luke Anderson. Steele had four steals and three blocked shots, while Anderson also had four steals.

“It was an exciting defensive effort,” McGraw said. “We kind of expect that kind of effort and output from Ian, but it was really exciting to see Nick and Luke step up on the defensive end. They forced a lot of turnovers and got their hands on a lot of passes.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Greyhounds hosted Perrydale in another nonleague contest last Tuesday. That one didn’t go quite as well, with the visiting Pirates racing to a 57-34 victory.

Those were Gaston’s only two games over the winter break, and the Hounds take a 2-7 overall record into the remainder of their schedule, which began with a road trip to Nestucca on Tuesday (results were not available at press time).

It’s Northwest League play exclusively from here on out, and McGraw said he thinks his team can be competitive every night against a loaded conference field.

“I know our record puts us at the bottom of the league right now, but I truly feel like we’re a middle of the pack team with the ability to play with some of the better teams on any given night,” he said. “Certainly we’re outmanned when it comes to the physical aspect because we just don’t have much size, but the talent is certainly there for us to be competitive.

“I’m learning as we go that this is definitely a very talented league. Some of the top teams in the state are in our league, so it will be tough, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing how things go.”

The Greyhounds will host Life Christian next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to City Christian on Thursday.