Corbett sends Gladstone boys to first Tri-Valley League loss, 66-64
The Corbett Cardinals' boys' basketball team did a number on the Gladstone Gladiators' undefeated league season Friday night.
Or make that "previously" undefeated league season.
Corbett's Dylan Painter scored 13 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Cardinals withstood a frantic Gladstone comeback in the closing minutes to score a 66-64 Tri-Valley League road win over the league-leading Gladiators.
Where did Friday's win rank among this season's big wins for the Cardinals?
"Oh, it's the biggest, for sure," said Painter, Corbett's senior guard and floor leader. "Gladstone is always a tough game. This is a huge win for us and our team. I'm so proud of my guys. This is a great team win."
The Cardinals (9-11, 3-4 Tri-Valley) earned a split of the two-game season series with Gladstone and moved into a tie with Madras for third place with three games remaining in the regular season.
"After a close loss to North Marion last week and then a bad trip over to Madras, it was great to see the guys redeem themselves," Cardinals coach Don Carter said. "To come into a really hostile environment against a top-10 Gladstone team and control the tempo from buzzer to buzzer and survive was phenomenal."
Gladstone's Jude Ashpole scored a team-high 15 points on a night when the Gladiators (15-6, 6-1) may have been more focused on the weather outside and talk of a possible snowstorm than they were on the task at hand.
"We didn't come out ready to play," Ashpole said. "We just walked in, thinking Corbett wasn't going to show up. We were worried about other stuff, worried about snow days, school and … we just weren't ready to compete."
Gladstone's best stretch came midway through the second quarter when the Gladiators went on an 11-2 run that turned a five-point deficit into a 26-22 lead with 2:02 remaining in the first half.
Corbett answered with a 6-0 run that included two Painter free throws, a Painter transition lay-up off a Gladstone turnover, and a Preston Horvath basket off an offensive rebound that gave the Cardinals a 28-26 lead heading into halftime.
"We'd never won in this gym, and every time we've gone to the locker room at halftime in the past, I think the closest we've been in like 11," Painter said. "So, going to the locker room ahead by two was like, 'Wow, we've got a shot at this.'"
Painter hit a 3-pointer from the left corner that pushed the Corbett lead to 37-31 with 3:22 to play in the third quarter, but Gladstone countered with a 9-4 run that ended with Spencer Boyd knocked down two free throws to pull the Gladiators within a point, 41-40, heading to the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals opened the fourth with a 6-0 run, taking a 47-40 lead when Painter made one of two free throws with 4:48 remaining.
The key during that stretch wasn't so much what the Corbett did at the offensive end, but what the Cards did on defense as Gladstone missed its first six shots from the field and had one turnover.
"Gladstone is a quantity-shooting group and when they get on a roll, they're really hard to beat," Carter said. "So, we wanted to limit their offensive possessions, limit them to one shot and done, and then be extremely patient on the offensive end and take good, high-quality shots and finish them. I think the guys did that pretty well."
Gladstone countered Corbett's patient offense and with some aggressive defense, but the Glads were a little too aggressive and ended up sending the Cardinals to the free-throw line.
Painter made two free throws to make it 53-46 after Ashpole was called for his fifth foul with 2:19 to play, and then Newton hit a pair that made it 55-46 after Gladstone's Damian Zaines drew his fifth foul with 1:51 left.
From there, the game was all Corbett free throws at one end and Gladstone desperation 3-pointers at the other, with Mitchell Kuhn hitting a pair of treys in the final 16 seconds to help make the final score look as if it were a nail-biter.
"Corbett came in here wanting to play and wanting to win, so credit to them for the fact that they came out and took care of business," Gladiators coach Cody Aker said. "Defensively, we didn't play with much urgency until the very end when it was a little too late.
"Having a game like this where we were kind of our own worst enemy gives us time to get into practice and make some adjustments. You'd obviously much rather have a loss like this now versus in the playoffs, so it's a good reality check."
While the Gladiators slipped into a first-place tie with North Marion, they remained a virtual lock for one of the league's two automatic berths into the OSAA Class 4A state playoffs.
As for the Cardinals, they're still in contention for one of the eight berths into the 4A play-in round, although there are some concerns about the threat of wintery weather and the impact that could have on the remaining schedule.
Corbett is scheduled for games next week at home against Molalla on Tuesday and on the road against Estacada on Friday, and then the Cardinals close out the regular season on at home against North Marion on Feb. 19 -- all contingent on the weather.
"This very well could have been our last opportunity before the Feb. 19 deadline to get a win and get us into the playoffs, because we're right there on the bubble," Carter said. "We knew if we could come in and take care of this one, we'd give ourselves one heckuva chance to get in there.
"And that being said, if this is our last game, it's the last time these seniors are going to wear that uniform. If it is and Mother Nature takes it from us, it's going to be tough. We're really hoping that the weather warms up to 85 degrees and the sun comes out and we can play the next three games."
CORBETT 18 10 13 25 -- 66
GLADSTONE 15 11 14 24 -- 64
Corbett (66) -- Dylan Painter 28, Jo. Newton 14, Zeise 13, Horvath 7, Rolens 4, Fundak, Ja. Newton, Write.
Gladstone (64) -- Jude Ashpole 15, Zaines 11, DeVoe 11, Tacha 8, Pulsipher 4, Simmons 2, Lehrbach 3, Kuhn 6, Boyd 4.