It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
Why does Krystal Williams sit on the edge of her seat? Why does the South Medford junior reserve listen carefully to head coach Tom Cole from the bench and watch the action in front of her with the eyes of boxer ready to take a swipe?
It's simple, Williams said: She wants to be ready when her number is called.
That moment came on Tuesday, when the top-ranked and top-seeded Panthers girls basketball team routed David Douglas, 92-27, in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs at South Medford High.
Williams and her fellow substitutes recorded plenty of time on the court during the triumph, which booked South's second-round date with Southern Oregon Hybrid rival Roseburg on Friday.
Williams said she prepares for a time when she may be called upon amid the most important — and perhaps most adverse — of circumstances.
That what-if factor keeps her on her toes.
"I was actually there when they won the first state championship (in 2012) and I was like worried for some of the girls," she said. "I think that for all of us watching, you know that anytime there is foul trouble we have to step it up. Because now it's go big or go home."
She and her teammates opted for the former against the Scots (5-17), going enormous.
Senior Ashley Bolston turned in 20 points and 10 assists, junior Keyari Sleezer 14 points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists and sophomore Julissa Tago 13 points and five rebounds for the Panthers (23-3), who led 34-6 after the first quarter.
Those starters — along with sophomore Jasmin Falls (nine points, five rebounds) and freshman Lauren Orndoff (eight points) — each logged around 21/2 quarters on the court in total, leaving the rest of the minutes to reserves like Williams, who had 10 points.
Emily Lemons kicked in six points and Hannah Washington and Cheyenne Metcalf added five points apiece for South while trying to help maintain the same feverish pace set by the first unit.
"We've been working hard and practicing and Tom has been pushing us to keep the intensity up," Williams said. "There shouldn't be a difference between second string and first string. We should maintain the same intensity as the starters because they are who we're looking up to."
Cole appreciates the diligence he's seen from his bench.
"Our bench has been a really important part of the team," he said. "They may not log the game minutes, but clearly they are integral because in practices they are going up against starters all year long. I am proud of the way they came out and competed. ... When you get into the playoffs, your bench is valuable. When key kids start getting into foul trouble you have to be able to find ways to score and get stops. All those minutes they got tonight will help us."
Added Tago: "They work so hard in practice, so it's good to see them get some time."
Audrey Frison had 16 points while adding a strong effort on the boards for 32nd-seeded David Douglas, which beat Century 55-53 in a state play-in game on Feb. 28.
"They're good," David Douglas head coach Mike Costello said of the Panthers. "They pressed us good and played good, solid defense. They take care of the ball."
South, which has not lost a first-round state contest since 2009, will shoot for its 12th straight victory on Friday evening against a familiar foe in the Indians, who beat Glencoe, 47-27, on Tuesday. In their three meetings this year, the Panthers have defeated Roseburg (13-11) by an average margin of 28.7 points.
That said, Cole is expecting a tough challenge.
"I think Roseburg is one of the most dangerous teams in the state," Cole said.
DAVID DOUGLAS (27) — Torregano 0, Champ 3, Carlberg 2, Truong 0, Frison 16, Ramirez 4, Englegau 0, Baker 0, Schoen 2. Totals: 12 2-3 27.
SOUTH MEDFORD (92) — Williams 10, Tago 13, Metcalf 5, Johnson 2, Bolston 20, Orndoff 8, Sleezer 14, Lemons 6, Falls 9, Washington 5. Totals: 40 6-8 92.
David Douglas 6 9 8 4 — 27
South Medford 34 27 21 10 — 92
3-point goals — David Douglas 1 (Champ 1), South Medford 6 (Bolston 3, Tago 2, Metcalf 1).
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt