Mike Brassel and Nick Shanklin-Rice are role players for the South Medford boys basketball team.

Mike Brassel and Nick Shanklin-Rice are role players for the South Medford boys basketball team.

In the opening round of the 21st annual Abby's Holiday Classic, Brassel and Shanklin-Rice filled their roles effectively as the Panthers smothered Beaverton, 73-57, at the South Medford High gym.

South Medford advances into the tournament semifinals against West Salem, a 67-42 winner over Red Bluff, Calif., at 7:30 p.m. today at the Panther gym.

Brassel, a senior point guard, scored 10 points but, more importantly, dished out eight assists and came up with three steals. Brassel was the force driving the Panthers' fast-tempo style most of the game.

"Right after they scored, we were beating them down the floor all night," said Brassel, "so I was able to find the open guys in fastbreak situations."

"We try to get the tempo up by pressing the whole game," added the 5-foot-9 Brassel. "Most teams aren't comfortable playing full speed all game long."

South Medford (7-1) was able to create the faster tempo by outrebounding the Beavers, 37-19, and forcing 21 turnovers.

The Panthers created eight turnovers and had five steals in the opening period. Beaverton took a 12-10 lead on junior guard Ershad Mahmood's 3-pointer with 3:53 left in the quarter. Then Shanklin-Rice answered with a three-point play off an offensive rebound to begin an 11-0 run to finish the quarter, and South never trailed again.

"(Shanklin-Rice) does a great job of accepting his role," South Medford coach Dennis Murphy said. "He took the shots that are good for him and he gets some rebounds."

Shanklin-Rice, a 6-0 senior wing, came off the bench to contribute four offensive rebounds, three steals, one block and one assist.

"I just try to make sure we don't let up when we take the starters out," said Shanklin-Rice, who had 11 points. "I try to bring energy off the bench and tire out their first group."

Beaverton cut South's margin to 26-20 about midway through the second quarter, then the Panthers got rolling again to take an 11-point lead at intermission.

"We played at the tempo we wanted," said Murphy. "Offensively we weren't as efficient as we should be. We missed a lot of shots."

Beaverton (2-5) cut South's lead to seven points several times in the third quarter, but by the end of the period, South led by 14 and the Beavers never got any closer.

"South does a good job of setting the tempo and creating turnovers," said Beaverton coach Erik Lathen, son of longtime Grants Pass boys and Ashland girls coach Ken Lathen. "They killed us on the boards and turned us over quite a lot."

Mahmood, who had 10 of Beaverton's first 12 points, finished with 24.

Josh Havird paced the Panthers with 19 points.

"We play 10 or 11 kids and run up and down the floor," said Murphy, "and hope we are in better shape than the other guys."

That was certainly the case for the Panthers against Beaverton.

BEAVERTON (57) — Cady 0, J. Cunha 5, J. Cunha 6, Marshall 2, Mahmood 24, Bettendorf 7, Richard 2, Bly 0, Lowe 2, Salsedo 7, Bradley 2, Losk 0. Totals: 21-49 11-18 57.

SOUTH MEDFORD (73) — Brassel 10, Retzlaff 3, Shanklin-Rice 11, Pearson 10, Mercer 4, Havird 19, DeCoste 0, Marshall 3, Singler 2, Delaney 0, Voss 7, Thibeault 4. Totals: 28-75 12-23 73.

Beaverton 12 14 14 17 — 57

South Medford 21 16 17 19 — 73

3-point goals — Beaverton 4 (J. Cuhna 1, Mahmood 1, Bettendorf 1, Salsedo 1), South Medford 5 (Brassel 1, Shanklin-Rice 1, Havird 3). Technical foul — Beaverton bench.

WEST SALEM 67, RED BLUFF (CALIF.) 42 — Senior wing Tae Land Adams went for 21 points as West Salem advanced into the semifinals.

The Titans (4-4) led by 10 points at halftime, then outscored Red Bluff 20-7 in the third quarter to take command.

Alex Roth, a sophomore wing, added 17 points for West Salem.

Red Bluff, which only had seven players available, was led by Jonah McInnis with 14 points.

RED BLUFF (42) — Hill 11, Medieros 2, Blaser 4, Robison 0, Tapia 9, Lewis 2, McInnis 14. Totals: 18 0-1 42.

WEST SALEM (67) — Alderman 4, Juarez 1, Bowman 7, Roth 17, Aispuro 0, Adams 21, Ochoa 2, Rabago 2, Tolbert 13. Totals: 28 7-15 67.

Red Bluff 12 12 7 11 — 42

West Salem 15 19 20 13 — 67

3-point goals — Red Bluff 6 (Hill 3, Tapia 3), West Salem 4 (Tolbert 1, Adams 1, Roth 1, Bowman 1).

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or e-mail fsilow@mailtribune.com