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The Gladiators are off to a 7-1 start and they enter the new year ranked second in the state in 4A

by: JON HOUSE - Austin Galvin (10) displays the unselfish play that has helped bring Gladstones boys basketball team success this season, as he dishes off to a teammate in last Fridays win over Seaside.Missing one of their top players, the Gladstone Gladiators still got it done at the Cascade Christmas Holiday Tournament, defeating Cascade 77-68 in overtime, after advancing through a relatively easy 57-44 win over Elmira.

Senior guard Trevor Browning, one of the Gladiators’ top players, missed the tournament while he had a wisdom tooth pulled.

With the pair of tournament wins, the Gladiators entered the new year ranked No. 2 in the state — behind Brookings — in the OSAA power rankings.

“I don’t pay much attention to the rankings until it gets later in the season and it matters in your playoff pairings,” said Gladstone coach Ted Yates. “But like I was telling [assistant coach Rick Priester] during the bus ride home from Cascade, ‘Maybe we’re better than I thought we were.’ It is hard to match our quickness. And, with the exception of one half [the first half of the Cascade game], I’ve been pleased with our effort in every game we’ve played....

“We’re ahead of where we were last year and we’re doing some things right. The nice thing is we’ve still got a ton of things we can do better.”

With the wins over Elmira and Cascade, and a 47-37 win over Seaside last Friday, the Gladiators improved to 7-1 in preseason.

Junior playmaker Handsome Smith was huge for the Gladiators at Cascade. The 5-9 guard scored a career-high 20 points, made five assists and stole the ball three times in the Elmira game; Smith scored 12 points, made seven assists, stole the ball four times and claimed five rebounds in the Cascade game.

Smith scored 10 points in the first quarter of the Elmira game, as the Gladiators took charge from the outset, outscoring the Falcons 19-6 in the period.

“We were stealing the ball and making layups [in the first period],” Yates said. “They made some adjustments, but then Handsome found little pockets in their zone and starting putting up 8- to 10 footers.”

The Gladiators forced 23 turnovers in the Elmira game and 24 turnovers in the championship game with Cascade.

Gladstone led most of the way in the final with the Cougars, but Yates says his charges turned a little conservative as the game wound down, allowing Cascade to knot the score at 64-all and send it into the overtime.

Yates says that during the timeout prior to the extra period he told his players, “Quit being careful. Let’s just go.”

Playing hard-nosed defense, they held the Cougars to just one field goal in the overtime. Austin Galvin (5 points), Sean Williams (3 points), Smith (3 points) and Ben Fox (2 points) all found the basket for Gladstone in the extra period.

Senior forward Ryun Gibson (18 points) led nine Gladiators who put points on the scoreboard in the Cascade game. Galvin had 12 points and five assists.

Gibson, Williams and Smith headed the defense, each of them with four steals.

Yates singled out Ben Fox for his play filling in for Browning.

“Ben came in and did a good job playing defense, and he didn’t turn the ball over,” Yates said. “We also got good minutes out of Justice Fridell; and Emil Kot and Andy Thompson both helped out, coming in and hitting 3’s off the bench, and making them come out of their zone.”

Yates said of the Cougars, “Next to Valley Catholic, they’re as good as any team we’ve played.”

Gladstone’s depth proved pivotal in last Friday’s 47-37 win over Seaside. The Gladiators had key players in foul trouble early on and that allowed Seaside to stay in the game until just past the midpoint of the fourth quarter.

The Gulls tied things up at 37-all when they hit a 3-pointer with 3:42 to play. But that was Seaside’s last hurrah, as the Gladiators went on a 10-0 run to end the game.

“We wore them down,” said Yates. “We had 15 steals in the game and seven of them were in the fourth quarter. We had 10 guys play and they all got good minutes.”

Led by Browning (6 points) and Smith (4 points), five different Gladstone players scored points in the fourth quarter.

Galvin led a balanced Gladiator attack with 13 points in the game. He also headed up the defense with six steals. Smith had seven assists to go with eight points. Williams came up with four steals.

“I don’t think we played with a lot of energy,” said Yates. “But we forced 23 turnovers and we held a good team to nine field goals and 37 points, and I’m happy with that.”

Seaside entered the game averaging 55 points.

Gladstone’s only loss to date this season came at the hands of Valley Catholic (43-38) in a Dec. 17 game at Valley Catholic. Through play last Friday Valley Catholic sported a 9-1 record and the Valiants were ranked No. 1 in 3A.

The Gladiators have a home game with Banks this Friday, and they entertain Sisters Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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