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South rules the boards in SOC win

Extra shots might cost you a few letters in H-O-R-S-E, but they are a good thing in a game situation.

South Medford snagged 24 offensive rebounds Friday night, paving the way for a 58-47 Southern Oregon Conference girls basketball victory over visiting North Medford.

Four Panthers scored in double figures, but it was a 43-28 advantage on the backboards that really made the difference.

If you keep going and box out, good things are going to happen, said South's senior post Amber Hunt, who grabbed nine rebounds, seven on the offensive end, and converted three into baskets.

Kellie Tho-mas topped South's balanced offense with 14 points, Emily Perttu and Karla Zenz added 13 each and Hunt had 10. Thomas and Zenz had eight rebounds apiece.

The Panthers (8-7, 4-2 SOC) nearly frittered away a 15-point first-quarter lead, but they never let the Black Tornado (4-13, 1-5 SOC) find its comfort zone. More important, South showed spunk that was lacking in home losses to Ashland and Roseburg.

I think it was a combination of playing our cross-town rivals and knowing it was do-or-die time to reach our goal, Perttu said. If we're going to make it through the playoffs and to the (state) tournament, we'd better start winning home games.

South came out hot-handed, hitting 8 of 13 field goals in the first quarter, and put the game away by hitting 12 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter.

In between, the Panthers made up for a 7-for-36 drought by doing whatever it took to keep shooting until they scored.

Case in point: South launched five shots after inbounding to start the second half. Finally, Thomas? 8-footer found the mark.

The first play of the third quarter, they get five shots and the thing we talked about at halftime was that we've got to rebound better, North Medford coach J.T. Thomas said. It's just frustrating.

South sank just 4 of 21 shots from the field in the third quarter but grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and played good enough defense to stretch its 26-22 halftime lead to 38-27.

If a team isn't going to box out, we're going to make them pay for it, Zenz said.

But North hung around as Kara Hwang, who finished with 15 points, and Kelsey Versteeg stuck shots inside the paint to make it 38-31 heading into the final eight minutes.

After Hunt turned a nifty pass from Whitney Grant into a basket for a 42-33 lead with 6:15 to play, North made its final charge.

Ashley Nelson, who led all scorers with 20 points, scored on a putback and Katrina Stevenson nailed a shot from the left baseline. Hunt countered by scoring off a rebound. Then Nelson powered inside, scored and was fouled by Hunt. Nelson's free throw made it 44-40 with 4:57 to play.

Thomas then began an 8-3 run with two free throws and Perttu dropped in a flashy reverse layin off a pass from Grant, and the Panthers were on their way.

It was a game of runs, Perttu said. We made an early run and they countered. But we had control. Even when they fought back, I was confident we'd pull it out.

It was a game the Tornado sorely needed to get back into the playoff picture.

And given the way the Tornado played in a four-point loss to Roseburg, one might have expected North to pose problems for its rival.

Being a young team, I think we let the crowd get to us, Nelson said. We gave up 19 points in the first quarter, and that's something you can't do at somebody else's gym.

South finds itself in someone else's gym as the first round of SOC play concludes Tuesday night when the Panthers visit No. 2-ranked Crater.

We have nothing to lose, South coach Andrea Wegner says. There is no pressure on us. It's their gym. We're going to go over and play our hearts out and see what happens.

— NORTH MEDFORD (47) -Lilly 0, Gentry 2, Meaer 0, Versteeg 4, Miller 0, Mellbye 0, Stevenson 4, Hwang 15, Hodges 2, Nelson 20. Totals: 17-46 11-13 47.

— SOUTH MEDFORD (58) -Perttu 13, Wright 0, Grant 8, Hunt 10, Berkey 0, Thomas 14, Mueller 0, Zenz 13. Totals: 19-55 19-25 58.

— North Medford........................................7 15 9 16 — 47 South Medford......................................19 7 12 20 — 58

3-point goals — North Medford 2 (Hwang 1, Nelson 1_. South Medford — (Grant 1).

JV score — South Medford 53, North Medford 40.

Reach reporter at 776-4483, or e-mail gstiles@mailtribune.com