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DIVISION IV GIRLS: Gray’s big night helps Tonopah into league final against Pahranagat Valley

Tonopah girls basketball coach Russ Olin said on any given night one of three players might step up as the heart and soul of the Muckers.

In Friday’s Division IV Southern Region semifinal at Chaparral, it was Ashley Gray emerging in dominating fashion, with 15 points, 15 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals in a 36-26 win over Lund.

“We wanted to come in and show Lund we weren’t the same team they played in Lund,” Gray said. “We wanted to go to state; we wanted it more.”

The Muckers (12-8) will face Pahranagat Valley (22-4) in the region final at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sunrise Mountain. Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.

The Mustangs, who beat Tonopah 48-42 at Lund on Feb. 14, held a 6-4 lead after a quiet first quarter. But Tonopah scored the first seven points of the second quarter and went on to build an 18-10 halftime lead.

Though Gray had just three points in the first half, she had nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals for the Muckers.

“She can dominate the boards, and she’s the best passing post I’ve ever coached,” Olin said. “She tries to take advantage of that and get the other girls involved in the game. She’d average more but some of the games we got big leads and I pulled her out. I wish she’d shoot more.”

It wasn’t until Lund (9-8) shortened its deficit to four points with 5:44 left in the game that Gray shot plenty, and took over at both ends of the court.

Gray went to the free-throw line on consecutive possessions, after pulling down offensive boards and going up for second-chance shots. She split the free throws each time, and on the next possession laid it in underneath the basket to give the Muckers a 30-22 lead. Gray scored eight of Tonopah’s 12 fourth-quarter points.

“It clicks in my mind when I have to step up for the team,” Gray said. “When people aren’t hitting their shots, it just hits me that I need to step up and start playing better. It happened today; I just noticed the team started getting nervous because (Lund) was coming back.”

The Muckers out-rebounded Lund 45-29, had 11 steals and limited the Mustangs to just five field goals in the game.

Julia Klapper added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Tonopah.

Alondra Dowl led Lund with 15 points.

Pahranagat Valley 52, Beatty 32 — Senior Kimberly Lewis had 21 points and eight rebounds as the top-seeded Panthers cruised by the Hornets.

After falling behind 5-2 midway through the first quarter, the Panthers used an 11-2 run to take control. An 11-3 run in the second quarter helped Pahranagat Valley take a 24-10 halftime lead.

Lewis and Jamie Hansen led the charge out of the locker room, scoring Pahranagat Valley’s first eight points of the second half and giving the Panthers a 32-14 lead midway through the third quarter. The lead grew to 22 by the middle of the fourth quarter, as the Panthers’ tenacious defense and transition game was too much for Beatty (8-8).

Bailee Hosier chipped in with 12 points for the Panthers.

Denise Gonzalez led Beatty with 14 points, and teammate Christina Thompson scored nine.

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