Gladstone's Jude Ashpole saved some of his best moves against North Marion for overtime.
Ashpole scored Gladstone's first six points in OT and finished with a team-high 16 points, helping lift the Gladiators to an emotionally-charged 73-65 Tri-Valley Conference home win Friday over the No. 2-ranked Huskies.
Jeremy De Voe added 16 points and Brandon Wanlass chipped in another 15 as the Gladiators handed North Marion its first loss in league play and climbed into a first-place tie with the Huskies with one game remaining in the regular season.
"We knew right from the start that this would be a tough game," Ashpole said. "Throughout this season, we've played up and down, but before this game and agreed that if we wanted to come out with a 'W' that we had to come together for the full 32 minutes. And that's what we did.
"OK, it was 36 minutes, but we got it done."
Sergio Jimenez scored a game-high 21 points to lead three players in double figures for the Huskies, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.
"Gladstone is a good, tough team, they played their hearts out, and they wanted it more than we did tonight," Jimenez said. "We came out here and I don't know what we were thinking. We just weren't awake.
"We woke up in the fourth quarter and that was too late. Gladstone was ready to play. They were prepared for us and they knew what they were doing."
The two teams are likely to see one another again on Tuesday.
If Gladstone (17-5, 8-1 Tri-Valley) wins Monday's regular-season finale at Molalla, and North Marion (18-4, 8-1) wins Monday's home game against Corbett, the league co-champions will meet again on Tuesday in a one-game league playoff game at Molalla High School to determine the league's No. 1 seed into the Class 4A state playoffs.
"Honestly, I'm not thinking about that third game," Ashpole said. "I'm thinking about Monday. We've got to take care of business at Molalla and then that's when we start looking at North Marion again."
The Gladiators drew inspiration Friday night from a standing-room-only crowd and a raucous student section that rubbed North Marion the wrong way, judging by some of the reactions immediately after the game.
Gladstone didn't lead the entire way, but it was close. There were two lead changes and five ties in the first half before the Gladiators closed the second quarter on a 10-6 run to take a 25-21 lead into the break.
The Gladiators then opened the second half on a 12-6 run, taking their largest lead of the game at 37-27 lead when Wanlass converted a lay-up off a North Marion turnover with 3:48 to play in the third quarter.
Gladstone led 60-53 when North Marion mounted a 7-0 run in the final two minutes, tying the score on a Jimenez 3-pointer with 33 seconds left.
After the Gladiators missed a 3-pointer at the other end and the rebound went off a Gladstone player and out of bounds, North Marion called a timeout with 18.5 seconds left to set up a potential game-winning shot — almost the exact scenario that played out in the Huskies' 48-46 home win over the Glads on Jan. 31.
This time, North Marion's plan was to get the ball to Jimenez, the 6-foot-2 senior, and let him use his creativity off the dribble.
Jimenez used a screen to get away from Ashpole as he moved left to right near the top of the 3-point arc. As Jimenez turned to drive, he ran into defensive resistance from Thomas Tacha. He tried to wrap a pass around Tacha to Johnny Page on the baseline, but the pass was a little off line and Page wasn't able to handle it cleanly as time expired.
"Sergio is a great player and we trust him to make good decisions, and he made a good decision to pass," Huskies coach Tully Wagner said. "I think John was open. Unfortunately, we didn't get the finish. That happens."
Gladstone opened overtime on a 6-2 run led by Ashpole, who scored all six points on two free throws, and two lay-ups off offensive rebounds — the second basket giving the Gladiators a 66-62 lead with 1:49 remaining.
"I didn't score as much as I wanted to during regulation and I knew our team needed those points," Ashpole said. "As a team leader and a team captain, I felt I needed to score in that situation and put us in the lead."
After Page made one of two free throws with 1:22 left, Ashpole tried to throw the ball the length of the floor to Ethan Bulisco. Jimenez was back on defense and deflected the ball into the hands of Wanlass, who flipped it up and in to make it 68-63 with 42 seconds to play.
"I just saw Jude throw the ball up, and that's a risky pass with two people there," Wanlass said. "So, I just went up to try to help and do the best I could. The ball just happened to come to me and I just finished it and that helped our team a lot.
"This win means a lot. It's the biggest game of the season, so far, and this is the best thing that could have happened to us. Now, we've got to move on and keep doing what we're doing."
North Marion's Brady Hansen finished with 15 points, and Page added 12 for the Huskies.
"These teams are mirror images of one another," Wagner said. "We both have a lot of tough kids, we both are incredibly competitive, and you saw that come up in multiple ways.
"I thought we did a pretty good job for most of the game with handling the atmosphere and fighting back. I'm not sure we held the lead after the first couple minutes, but we did a really nice job of extending the game in the fourth quarter and getting in a situation where we had a possession to win the game."
In the end, the Gladiators made a few more plays than North Marion made.
"We didn't convert the one we wanted at the end of regulation, but I thought we could put a little mini-run on them to start overtime and take control," Wagner said. "Gladstone made a couple of plays early and we had opportunities to make it a one-possession game and it didn't happen.
"That's just the way basketball works sometimes. Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it doesn't. For us tonight, we didn't have a great shooting game, but give credit to Gladstone. They have a good defensive team."
NORTH MARION 12 9 19 20 5 — 65
GLADSTONE 10 15 21 14 13 — 73
North Marion (65) — Sergio Jimenez 21, Hansen 15, J. Page 12, Meyers 8, Saucedo 5, N. Wierstra 4, H. Wierstra, Wilson.
Gladstone (73) — Jude Ashpole 16, De Voe 15, Wanlass 14, Peiffer 8,Bulisco 8, Tacha 5, Harman 4, Carey 2, Dewall 1, Burlingame.
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