Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
A thing of beauty it wasn't, but South Medford's Southern Oregon Hybrid-opening win over Roseburg still felt good enough to celebrate for a Panthers team coming off a pair of disappointing road losses.
Senior wing Mark Winans contributed 11 points and five rebounds and defense was the theme of the night Friday as South Medford's boys basketball team secured a 39-35 victory on its home court.
The Panthers held Roseburg to 33 percent shooting (13-for-40) and did just enough on the other end by converting 38 percent of their shots (15-for-39) to stave off the Indians.
"We're happy we can come away with a win after the two rough losses on the road," said Winans, who also had two steals and two assists. "It was nice to play at home again and get a win so we could start conference off right."
"We're in a hole right now and that win kinda helped us work out of it a little bit," added the 6-foot-1 senior. "Now we just need to keep on taking steps forward until we're back on top of our game again."
Winans scored 10 of his team's 19 points as South Medford (8-5, 1-0 SOH) took a 19-10 lead into halftime, while junior center Cameron English scored the first seven points out of the break for the Panthers to finish with nine points and five rebounds.
South Medford also got eight points and three rebounds from senior Ben Orndoff, who hit a key pull-up jumper with 1:55 to play and added stingy defense on Roseburg standout Carson Reid.
"To our credit, we won the basketball game and that's the purpose of playing the game," said Panthers head coach Dennis Murphy.
"We did a nice job defensively," added Murphy. "They didn't get many easy looks or good looks. Defensively we're OK, we just have to figure out our offensive woes. A big part of it is I just think I probably put too much pressure on them and they don't relax and play, and you're never going to make a shot when you're not relaxed. We've got to get better at that."
The Panthers held an advantage for most of the contest before Roseburg (4-7, 0-2) mounted a comeback by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 30-all with five minutes to go.
Coming off a timeout, however, Winans found Hunter Bradford for a lay-in and, after a defensive stand, English scored down low off a nice pass from Bradford to push South's lead back up to 34-30.
Bradford finished with five points and six rebounds off the bench, and joined Winans and English in leading the Panthers with two assists apiece.
"They ran that nice little set where the kid curled off in the middle of the key and got that look," said Roseburg head coach Craig Stinnett, "and then we were kind of under the gun and forced a couple things and things didn't go our way in the end."
Alex New's third 3-pointer of the contest made it 34-33 with 2:43 to play before Orndoff answered with his jumper and then Panthers point guard Brayden Massey snapped a string of missed free throws on both ends with a pair of foul shots to make it a two-possession game.
Reid's breakaway layup after a steal and missed shot by Massey gave Roseburg hope with 18.1 seconds remaining at 38-35, but Winans made 1-of-2 from the foul line and the Indians missed on three shot attempts over the final 16 seconds.
Reid scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, while New finished with nine points and Tanner Baumgartner had seven points and five boards.
"I thought that they did a very good job of making all of our catches difficult and we did the same thing," said Stinnett. "We went back and forth between zone and man matching up with them and I thought we kept them off-balance throughout most of the game. Most of the stuff they got were off little timeout sets, and that's pretty hard to defend."
South Medford was able to force 19 turnovers but committed 16 of its own, leading Murphy to suggest his team has plenty to work on before Tuesday's game at Crater.
"We've got a completely different contest Tuesday with the Comets, who are bigger than trees, so we've got to figure out some things."
ROSEBURG (35) — Reid 12, New 9, Baumgartner 7, Stephens 3, Ball 2, Stone 2, Haskett 0, Carhart 0, Early 0, Knapp 0. Totals: 13-40 4-9 35.
SOUTH MEDFORD (39) — Winans 11, English 9, Orndoff 8, Bradford 5, Massey 4, Keepes 2, Carpenter 0, Contreras 0, Lupton 0, Lallo 0. Totals: 15-39 7-16 39.
Roseburg 4 6 13 12 — 35
South Medford 9 10 11 9 — 39
3-point goals — Roseburg 5-17 (New 3, Baumgartner 1, Reid 1), South Medford 2-9 (Winans 2). Fouled out — Reid.
JV score — South Medford 73, Roseburg 54.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry