EUGENE — Fourth-ranked Jesuit played pick-your-poison with Jon Grimes on Friday night, and the South Medford senior killed the Crusaders' title hopes.
Known more as a defensive stopper, Grimes burned both ends of the candle in the semifinals of the Class 6A boys basketball state tournament here at McArthur Court.
The 6-foot-2 wing drilled 6 of 9 shots for 15 points and shut down Jesuit's leading scorer to help the Panthers advance to their second straight championship game with a 70-51 rout in front of 7,032 fans.
"Grimes was huge for them," said Jesuit coach Gene Potter. "We thought we've got to try to take (Kyle) Singler away inside as much as we can and (Grimes) stepped up and made a lot of big shots in the first half."
Grimes led the second-ranked Panthers with eight points in the first half as South opened a 28-19 advantage by halftime. His 3-pointer kicked off a 12-0 run to start the game for the Panthers to immediately put Jesuit on its heels.
"I'm just so happy for Jon because he's a kid that's truly overachieved," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy. "Hopefully he can overachieve one more time."
Murphy obviously was alluding to tonight's Class 6A final, which will be a repeat of last year's classic with top-ranked Lake Oswego (26-1). Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m., with doors opening for the final session at 5:30 p.m.
Only general admission tickets are still available at Mac Court, at a cost of $7 for adults and $5 for children. There are approximately 2,600 tickets left for the championship final session for Class 5A and 6A. North Eugene and Roosevelt will play for the 5A title at 6:30 p.m.
Tonight's 6A championship will be televised live on Fox Sports Northwest (Ch. 23), with the Mail Tribune also providing a live blog of the game at mailtribune.com. Radio broadcast is also available at 105.1-FM.
"It's a fan's fantasy to get this opportunity to see this," Murphy said of tonight's matchup, "but you still have to remember it's just another high school basketball game."
If that's true, the Panthers (26-3) have plenty to build on following Friday's effort.
Kyle Singler converted 9 of 12 shots from the field and 8 of 12 from the foul line to score a game-high 26 points to go with 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. Michael Harthun added 17 points and E.J. Singler had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Panthers.
"This was the kind of game that really defines team effort," said Harthun. "We came out and played as hard as we could and tried to pick each other up whenever we could."
That particularly signified the play of Grimes. Besides his opportunistic scoring, he limited Jesuit standout Kevin Chalmers to two points — both on free throws following a shooting foul by Kyle Singler with 6:07 to go in the third quarter.
"Chalmers was my main goal tonight because I'd rather stop a guy from scoring than anything," said Grimes, "but the points were nice, too."
The outburst was nothing new to his Panther teammates, but certainly didn't go unnoticed.
"Jon kinda just surrounded himself in the moment and just flowed out there," said Kyle Singler. "He's been a tremendous surprise for us throughout this whole season. From the beginning of the season I don't think even Jon would've thought he'd be playing as well as he's playing."
"He's just a tremendous teammate and works very hard," added the 6-9 standout. "Everything that went for him tonight he's worked for, and he kinda propelled us in that first quarter especially."
After South Medford's 12-0 surge to open the game, Jesuit climbed back into the game behind three second-quarter 3-pointers to make it 28-19 at intermission.
Those long-range strikes seemed to fire up the Crusaders, who were only 3 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first half but stroked 8 of 20 in the second half. Dan Feest drilled four 3-pointers in the third quarter and five overall in the second half to notch a team-high 15 points.
"We knew they were going to be doing that, it just was a matter of when," said Kyle Singler. "They were missing their 3s early which was in our favor, but they're a very well-coached team with good players. We knew they didn't get here for no reason."
But while all the rainbow shots were fun to watch, they had little affect in slowing a hungry bunch of Panthers. South Medford used an 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter to pull ahead 60-41 and built that bulge to 24 points moments later.
The Panthers converted 15 of 19 shots in the second half (79 percent) and 27 of 42 for the game (64 percent), while Jesuit was 19-for-50 overall (38 percent).
"We did what we do, unfortunately we didn't do it well enough," said Potter, whose team was making its sixth straight semifinals appearance. "We knew we were going to have to shoot pretty well from the perimeter to give ourselves a chance because obviously inside they're pretty dominant."
South Medford had a 32-12 advantage in points in the paint and never trailed in a rematch of last year's semifinals, which was won 70-69 in overtime on Myles Daley's buzzer-beater.
And while Potter certainly wasn't thrilled to see his team's title hopes dashed, the veteran coach couldn't help but be impressed by Kyle Singler's dominance on Friday.
"Watching Kyle play is incredibly entertaining," he said. "The kid's 6-9 and can go coast to coast faster than just about anybody on the floor ... it's just a lot more entertaining when you're in the green seats (in the stands) and not in the folding chairs (on the court)."
In Friday's other semifinal, top-ranked Lake Oswego survived Sheldon's deliberate pace to earn a 28-25 victory. The No. 6 Irish (21-7) worked the clock at every opportunity and had the game tied at 25-all entering the fourth quarter, but couldn't quite capitalize as Kevin Love's three-point play early in the frame proved to be the winning points and only three of the fourth.
Love became Oregon's career scoring leader in the first quarter on a putback basket, and finished with nine points and six rebounds. The Lakers also got 10 points from Elliot Babcock-Krenk and nine from Ernie Spada to earn their third straight berth in the championship finals.
Blake Poole had 12 points and six boards and Brent McKee nine points for Sheldon, which will play Jesuit in the third-place game today at 3:15 p.m.
JESUIT (51) — Elorriaga 1-6 0-0 3, Gerbing 3-5 0-0 6, McShane 2-3 0-0 4, Chalmers 0-7 2-2 2, Feest 5-10 0-0 15, Lambert 1-2 0-0 3, Hart 2-6 0-0 5, Kaempf 4-6 0-0 10, Lopez 1-1 0-0 3, Bishop 0-0 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-1 0-0 0, Remmers 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 19-50 2-2 51.
SOUTH MEDFORD (70) — Dellenback-Ouellette 1-3 0-0 2, E. Singler 4-6 0-0 8, K. Singler 9-12 8-12 26, Harthun 6-9 2-2 17, Grimes 6-9 1-1 15, Granger 0-0 0-0 0, Duran-Chaparro 0-0 0-0 0, M. Singler 1-2 0-0 2, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Egan 0-0 0-0 0, Boyd 0-0 0-2 0, DeCoste 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-42 11-17 70.
Jesuit 6 13 16 16 —51
South Medford 16 12 19 23 —70
3-point goals — Jesuit 11-32 (Elorriaga 1-6, Gerbing 0-1, Chalmers 0-4, Feest 5-10, Lambert 1-2, Hart 1-3, Kaempf 2-4, Lopez 1-1, Cunningham 0-1), South Medford 5-13 (Dellenback-Ouellette 0-2, K. Singler 0-1, Harthun 3-5, Grimes 2-4, M. Singler 0-1). Rebounds — Jesuit 18 (Kaempf 3), South Medford 31 (K. Singler 13). Assists — Jesuit 14 (Elorriaga 4), South Medford 13 (E.J. Singler 4, K. Singler 4). Turnovers — Jesuit 9, South Medford 11. Total fouls — Jesuit 19, South Medford 8. A — 7,032.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com