As if Southern Oregon's opponents didn't have enough things to worry about already, the 12th-ranked Raiders received a major boost last weekend by a player whose scoring ability could potentially make them nearly impossible to defend.
Junior shooting guard Kyle Tedder scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half of SOU's win over second-ranked Eastern Oregon on Friday, then followed that up with a 32-point explosion in an overtime win over College of Idaho on Saturday.
WHO: Junior shooting guard for the SOU basketball team.
The outside shooting exhibition — Tedder hit 13 of 19 3-pointers combined in the two games — is a welcomed sign for a Raiders squad that has plenty of beef in big men Eric Thompson (6-foot-7), Terriel Thomas (6-5) and David Sturner (6-8), but will need some consistency from the perimeter in order to contend for a Cascade Collegiate Conference championship.
"I've always had trust in my shot," Tedder said, "and last weekend was just a reflection of my hard work and the time that I put in. I figured it was going to happen sooner or later."
Tedder's timing was perfect. His breakout helped the Raiders (11-3, 4-0 Cascade) validate one of their best starts in years against previously unbeaten Eastern, and avoid an upset against C of I. They've won four games in a row and eight of their last nine heading into their last road trip of the year. It's a big one, too. Tonight, the Raiders face Concordia (4-6, 0-3) before gearing up for another Cascade Conference showdown against 14th-ranked Warner Pacific (9-4, 2-1).
"Every game in the Cascade Conference is tough," Tedder said. "Coming off the emotional high of last weekend we're going to try and ride the wave and come in out of the snow and capitalize — do what we we've got to do."
The athletic Tedder certainly did what the Raiders needed him to do last weekend. Trailing Eastern by eight points in the second half, SOU was in desperate need of a spark when the 6-2 slasher drained three 3-pointers in the last 12 minutes to spark SOU's comeback, then 3 of 4 free throws in the last 10 seconds to finish it.
Tedder was even better the following night. He sank 6 of 7 3-pointers and scored 18 points in the first half to help SOU take a 41-30 lead at the break, then scored eight points, including a clutch 3, in overtime to help SOU narrowly avoid disaster.
"It was great to just get back in rhythm and get my shooting touch going from outside," he said. "And the two wins were huge for us, especially the second one, against a team that we never seem to play well against."
Though Tedder has developed into a deadly outside shooter, he also has the ability to break down defenses off the dribble, a skill he exploited when he sliced through the defense for a key layup with 19 seconds to go against Eastern.
Tedder's all-around athleticism made him a two-sport star at Marshfield High of Coos Bay, where he averaged 24 points per game for the basketball team and was an all-state pick as the quarterback of the football team. Tedder was so good as a dual-threat QB for the Pirates, he considered trying to play football at Oregon State.
But, eventually his love of basketball won out, and he decided to become a Raider.
The transition to NAIA basketball was a smooth one for Tedder. He started 25 of 27 games as a true freshman and was the Raiders' second-leading scorer at 13 points per game. His role changed last season with the arrival of Thompson, who immediately became SOU's No. 1 scoring option, and Tedder's scoring average took a hit (10.5 points per game) while he continued to see plenty of playing time.
This season, Tedder is SOU's second-leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. He's shooting 52 percent from the field and 44 percent (30-for-69) from long range, and also leads the team with 14 steals.
The Raiders will likely need Tedder to be at his best in order to gain their second CCC road sweep of the season this weekend. Warner Pacific has owned Southern Oregon in recent years, winning 14 of the last 16 matchups, including an overtime thriller in the 2011-12 Cascade Conference tournament — the last meeting between the two teams.
The Knights, who are led by Stephen Harris (17.2 points per game) and Doug Thomas (13.5), employ a zone defense and a fast-tempo offense that effectively baits opponents into running and gunning. Their lone league loss was a two-point setback to Eastern Oregon.
"They're going to be a tough team," Tedder said of Warner Pacific. "They're very athletic, and they use a defense that we haven't seen much this year. After our game (tonight), we're going to have to be very focused. They try to speed you up and force quick shots. We're going to try to move the ball and get the defense moving as much as possible and try to attack the middle.
"We're just going to have to knock down open shots and win the battle on the boards."