The top-ranked South Medford girls basketball team took to the court on Friday night feeling relaxed and relieved.

The top-ranked South Medford girls basketball team took to the court on Friday night feeling relaxed and relieved.

Academic finals were over and the undefeated Panthers all seemed pleased with their grades at a team dinner, South head coach Tom Cole said.

Cole's squad has proved difficult to handle no matter the circumstance this season, but a stress-free and relatively healthy South ... well, that team can be downright stressful to face.

Just ask Grants Pass.

Senior Kylie Towry recorded 21 points, six rebounds and four assists and freshman Andee Ritter turned in 17 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists to help lead the way in an 82-37 victory over the Cavers in Southern Oregon Hybrid play.

The win capped a very busy week of studying and practicing for the Panthers (18-0, 7-0 SOH), whose last loss to Grants Pass (9-7, 3-3 SOH) came on Feb. 19, 2009. South, which is ranked 17th nationally by MaxPreps, has beaten Grants Pass eighth straight times.

"There was kind of a sense of relief that came with finishing a week of real anxiety," Cole said. "And most of it wasn't around basketball. It was around keeping their academic standing the way that it has been, which last year was first in the state.

"There is a level of stress that comes with performance in class, then you couple that with being the No. 1 team, trying to keep an unbeaten record going and having a home game with the No. 2 team in conference. So I think this was a nice way to finish a pretty stressful week of life."

South didn't have much to worry about against Grants Pass after getting off to a start as cold as the weather outside. The Panthers made just nine of their 26 field-goal attempts in the first quarter, missing nine of their first 10, but they still managed a 20-7 lead.

Some defensive adjustments by South in the second half made life even harder for the road team. The Panthers led 37-11 at halftime but owned a 45-point advantage heading into the final quarter after intensifying its pressure.

South received contributions everywhere: Yaremi Mejia got 13 points, eight assists and five steals on her birthday, Luisa Tago had 11 points and two blocks, Ashley Bolston registered four points, 10 rebounds and three blocks and Tess Picknell added four points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Many of the buckets came off Grants Pass mistakes — the Cavers committed 22 turnovers, and South was quick to capitalize on them with a roster full of players capable of igniting a fastbreak.

In seven league games, the Panthers' average margin of victory is 31.7 points.

"We as players have to challenge ourselves to get better," Tago said. "We personally have to challenge ourselves and we really have been doing that. We're playing more as a team now, getting more used to each other and everybody is getting shots up and everybody is going on instinct right now."

Annie Edgar had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavers, who lost to South 90-58 on Jan. 10.

"South is a great team," Grants Pass head coach Scott Wakefield said. "I think you are gonna see a team like South around only every so often. They've got it going on all cylinders, and give a lot of credit to Tom Cole and what he is doing with those girls and a lot of credit to those girls for working hard and stepping up.

"I would have liked to have given them a better game and worked a little harder. But, yeah, they are the real deal."

GRANTS PASS (37) — Dean 0, Luker 1, Miller 5, Bice 5, Jordan 6, Phillips 4, Davidson 0, Edgar 14, Henderson 2. Totals: 12 11-25 37.

SOUTH MEDFORD (82) — Vargas 5, Towry 21, Tago 11, Ritter 17, Bolston 4, Sleezer 2, Sprang 0, Mejia 13, Morris 5, Picknell 4. Totals: 35 5-10 82.

Grants Pass 7 4 10 16 — 37

South Medford 20 17 29 16 — 82.

3-point goals — Grants Pass 2 (Miller 1, Phillips 1), South Medford 7 (Towry 3, Vargas 1, Ritter 1, Mejia 1).

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com