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South to host Cavers

South Medford jumped into the Southern Oregon Conference boys basketball race last week with high expectations.

The Panthers were coming off a win over St. Mary's High of Berkeley, Calif., in the Abby's Holiday Classic finals, which capped a largely successful preseason.

But in the conference opener, it all fell apart for the South in the second half at Roseburg when the Indians laid it on the Panthers, 77-52.

They get a chance to redeem themselves tonight when No. 2-Ranked Grants Pass, winner of 12 straight games, including a 60-53 triumph over Roseburg on Friday, visits the South gym.

Grants Pass was picked to win the SOC in a vote of conference coaches, with South and Roseburg co-No. 2s.

It's a big matchup for us, says South Medford coach Dennis Murphy.

In other SOC boys games, North Medford is at Roseburg, Crater travels to Klamath Union and Ashland calls on Eagle Point.

In girls play, it's Roseburg at North Medford, South Medford at Grants Pass, Klamath Union at Crater and Eagle Point at Ashland.

All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. tip-offs.

Two of the top big men in the SOC tangle at South Medford.

Grants Pass senior Ian Elseth, player of the year for 1999-2000, and South Medford junior Eric Fiegi, both 6-foot-7, are among the conference's top scorers. Fiegi is averaging 19.2 points per game in 10 outings despite being hampered by an ankle injury. Elseth is tossing in 16.5 points per game, fifth best in the conference.

South junior point guard Ryan Heil is No. 4 in the SOC at 16.7 points a contest. He?ll be paired up against Grants Pass standout Tyler York.

Murphy expects a dogfight.

Last year, they beat us in overtime at the end of the season over there and it was two-point game until the final minutes here, Murphy said.