Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
REDDING, Calif. — South Medford girls basketball coach Tom Cole routinely seeks opportunities to test his team outside of conference.
The Panthers got a big one Saturday, and passed, rallying from a double-digit deficit in the first half to hand Enterprise High only its second loss, 57-50.
South, 18-3 and the top-ranked Class 6A team in Oregon, trailed by 16 points early in the second period, battled to within 32-26 at halftime and grabbed the lead in the third quarter.
From there, it held on, thanks in part to outstanding free-throw shooting — the Panthers were 18 of 19 overall — and authoritative play by senior Ashley Bolston, who sat out the first half of the final quarter with four fouls, then returned to make several key plays.
The only other loss for Enterprise (21-2) was on Dec. 31 to Camarillo, 56-44. The Hornets had one of the top teams in northern California last year and returned most of their players. They are ranked third in their division.
That's why Cole scheduled Enterprise.
"It gives us a chance to see some teams that do different things and have different levels of athletes," he said, noting that California has a shot clock and uses three referees. "It's a different kind of basketball.
"It's good. We needed a game like this to test our resiliency to battle back when the chips are down, and we did that. We're glad to come away with a win because Enterprise is a quality opponent."
South, which arrived shortly before game time after a long bus ride, started sluggishly and found itself down 23-10 after the first quarter. The Panthers tried to regroup between periods, but Enterprise's Kamira Sanders made a 3-pointer to open the second and make it 26-10.
"We were like, 'Oh my goodness,'" said Cole. "It was a wake-up call for us."
Bolston's strong second quarter helped offset Sanders' steady play as South narrowed the halftime margin to six points.
Sanders scored 13 of her 19 points in the first half. Only a sophomore, she recorded her 1,000th career point in her previous game.
Bolston tallied 10 points in the second quarter. She finished with 22 to go with 13 rebounds and six assists.
Others played key roles in South's comeback.
Jasmin Falls grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, Keyari Sleezer held Sanders to six second-half points and contributed two key baskets as South outscored Enterprise 21-10 in the third, and Lauren Orndoff scored her eight points in the second-half resurgence.
Falls is a 5-11 sophomore.
"We've been needing an inside presence," said Cole, "and her presence on the boards was big. She was faced up with a 6-foot kid who was athletic and strong. Being able to control some defensive rebounds and eliminate a lot of second-chance points for them was huge. I was really happy with her production."
Sleezer's defense on point guard Sanders disrupted the Hornets' offensive rhythm, and the Panther junior contributed 13 points.
Orndoff had a tough first half and was challenged at intermission. She responded with a solid second half.
The freshman has the task of replacing the injured Andee Ritter, one of South's best players who was lost for the season recently with a knee injury.
"I thought her play in the second half was really important," said Cole. "I'm proud of the way she handled the challenge. As a kid filling in for Ritter, especially as a freshman, there are a lot of expectations. We always talk about, 'Are we getting better?' Tonight, Lauren Orndoff got better."
Both teams faced foul trouble in the fourth quarter — two from each side were playing with four — but none fouled out.
SOUTH MEDFORD (57) — Williams 2, Tago 6, Bolston 22, Orndoff 8, Sleezer 13, Falls 6. Totals: 19 18-19 57.
ENTERPRISE (50) — Wolfe 4, Gray 3, Sanders 19, Hill 2, Martin 6, Kimbrough 16, Franks 0, Saechao 0, Henning 0. Totals: 21 5-10 50.
South Medford 10 16 21 10 — 57
Enterprise 23 9 10 8 — 50
3-point goals — South Medford 1 (Sleezer 1), Enterprise 3 (Sanders 2, Gray 1).
JV result — South Medford won.
Mountain Valley League Girls
HOSANNA CHRISTIAN 38, BUTTE FALLS 11 — At Butte Falls, Torri Lilly had six points and five rebounds and Brandi O'Keefe grabbed eight boards for Butte Falls, which suffered its seventh straight loss to fall to 3-15, 1-9 in the MVL.
League-leading Hosanna Christian (14-7, 10-1), led by Raelynn Murray's 12 points, held the Loggers to two points in the first half.
BUTTE FALLS (11) — Munsell 2, Kuykendall 0, O'Keefe 1, Lilly 6, Myers 2. Totals: 5 1-4 11.
HOSANNA CHRISTIAN (38) — Sundet 11, Kensler 2, Moro 3, Bush 8, Murray 12, Dutton 2. Totals: 14 3-5 38.
Butte Falls 2 0 5 4 — 11
Hosanna Christian 4 16 11 7 — 38
3-point goals — Hosanna Christian 7 (Moro 1, Bush 2, Murray 4).
TRIAD 56, RV ADVENTIST 32 — At Klamath Falls, Ashton Petray scored 12 points to lead Rogue Valley Adventist in MVL action.
Sarah Estabrook paced Triad (15-7, 9-1 MVL) with 18 points.
The Hawks dropped to 7-13 overall and 4-7 in league.
RV ADVENTIST (32) — Petray 12, Haddad 0, Wood 4, Griest 0, Scott 6, Zamora 6, Velasco 4. Totals: 10 10-25 32.
TRIAD (56) — McCuiston 0, Borror 3, Eskildson 0, Powless 11, Hamel 6, S. Estabrook 18, E. Estabrook 16, Stiller 2. Totals: 20 9-13 56.
RV Adventist 11 10 4 7 — 32
Triad 19 13 13 11 — 56
3-point goals — RV Adventist 2 (Petray 2), Triad 5 (Powless 3, S. Estabrook 2). Fouled out — Hamel.
Mountain Valley League Boys
BUTTE FALLS 69, HOSANNA CHRISTIAN 59, 2OT — At Klamath Falls, Evan Givens erupted for 24 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks and Emmitt Bateman had 25 points, six assists and three steals while coming up big at the free-throw line late for Butte Falls in MVL action.
Bateman knocked down four of his five free throws in the second overtime.
Alex Cool-Hunsaker scored 14 points and Jared McGonagle chipped in six points and 11 rebounds for the Loggers (10-9, 6-4 MVL).
Kyler Kensler scored 20 points for Hosanna Christian (6-16, 4-6), which took advantage of 11 Butte Falls turnovers in the first quarter to build an 18-9 lead.
BUTTE FALLS (69) — E. Bateman 25, Givens 24, Cool-Hunsaker 14, J. McGonagle 6, W. Bateman 0, L. McGonagle 0. Totals: 22 20-26 69.