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Panthers pummel Tornado

In a dominating display, South Medford routs intra-city rival North Medford to win the Abby's Holiday Classic Championship

Call it a rivalry, call it revenge.

No matter how you viewed it, Wednesday night's matchup between South Medford and North Medford proved to be nothing but a one-sided whipping in the championship game of the Abby's Holiday Classic.

The second-ranked Panthers used a deft perimeter game and the determination to not give an inch to their crosstown rival in pinning a 95-31 blowout on the Black Tornado at South High.

The win marked the fifth straight Abby's title for the second-ranked Panthers (9-1) and put a halt to North's six-game winning streak.

— Wednesday's game featured the kind of gaudy numbers saved for a Powerball lottery or Wilt Chamberlain autobiography:

South (9-1) drilled 10 of its 13 3-pointers in the first half, with senior Caleb Berkey knocking down three of his five in the first quarter and reserve junior Isaiah Adams two of his four in that span.

The Panthers limited North (6-4) to only one field goal ' a 3-pointer by Ben Running ' and nine points overall in the entire second half. The Tornado converted only 8 of 47 field goal attempts overall (17 percent), while South was 31 of 62 for the night.

All 11 South players scored at least one basket, with Berkey heading the list by scoring 21 points.

The Panthers forced 27 turnovers and outrebounded the Tornado 44-18, with Ryan Fiegi pulling down a game-high 10 boards for South.

South had twice as many assists (16) as North had field goals.

The list goes on and on in a matchup the Panthers had earmarked ever since last October when the Black Tornado drummed South 60-17 on the football field.

We've been waiting to play them all season, said Fiegi, who also had 11 points and five assists. We just came out so pumped up and we had no doubt in our minds that we were going to win.

The start of the game seemed innocent enough, at least until Berkey took over. The 6-foot-3 senior wing hit a 3-pointer to put South up 7-3, then capped a run that included six points by Fiegi with another 3-pointer to make it 15-5 and send the Panther fans in a frenzy.

After a timeout by North, the Tornado switched to a zone defense that didn't fare much better. Adams drained two straight 3-pointers and Craig Johnson brought the house down with a one-step slam dunk that put South ahead 23-9 with one minute to go in the first quarter.

The roar from the Panther faithful grew even greater moments later when Berkey tossed in two more treys to give South a 29-14 lead after one quarter.

My teammates get all the credit in the world for that, Berkey said of his first-quarter surge. I wouldn't be getting those open looks without them looking for me and trusting I'm going to hit the shot.

The hits just kept on coming for the Panthers, who saw their lead grow on a fastbreak dunk by 6-7 freshman Kyle Singler to open the second quarter. the time the dust had settled heading into halftime, the Panthers were ahead 56-22, North standout Ryan Lucas was on the bench with a cut chin and a concussion and the only question left was whether South could reach the century mark.

That was the most exciting half of basketball I've ever seen or played in my life, said Berkey. We knew we had to go out there and get it done and I think we more than accomplished that tonight.

Singler finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals for South, which also got 12 points from Adams, 10 points and six rebounds from Craig Johnson and nine points and eight rebounds from Spencer Hunter.

Part of the reason we can do what we do is this is such a tremendous group of unselfish kids, said South head coach Dennis Murphy. There really is no 'I' in team, and these guys are phenomenal that way.

North head coach Tim Sam could only follow suit with praise for the Panthers, and the hope that his Tornado will be able to regroup heading into Tuesday's SOC opener with South.

They're obviously a great basketball team, Sam said of the Panthers. You have to defend them at all positions and you've got to keep them from getting second shots, and we did a poor job on both of those things.

North sophomore Kendall Gielow scored nine points and had four rebounds to pace the Tornado, which played the second half without Lucas and had its lowest point total of the season.

Murph really wanted to stress defense these past two games, and in the second half it showed, said Fiegi, whose team has outscored its past two foes 90-26 in the second half.

Drew Herrera added six points and North got five apiece from Kyle Williamson and Running.

NORTH MEDFORD (31)

' Gielow 9, Herrera 6, Williamson 5, Running 5, Berger 3, Lucas 2, Stroh 1, Ryan 0, Hovland 0, Schak 0, Barry 0, O'Brien 0, Theel 0, Eubank 0. Totals: 8-47 12-18 31.

SOUTH MEDFORD (95) ' Berkey 21, Singler 15, Adams 12, Fiegi 11, C. Johnson 10, Hunter 9, Hagert 4, Heil 4, Weaver 4, B. Johnson 3, Sabori 2. Totals: 31-62 20-27 95.

North Medford...........................14 8 6 — ' 31

South Medford............................29 27 14 25 ' 95

3-point goals ' North Medford — (Running 1, Gielow 1, Williamson 1), South Medford 13 (Berkey 5, Adams 4, Fiegi 1, Hagert 1, Hunter 1, Weaver 1). Fouled out ' Gielow. Technical fouls ' C. Johnson, South Medford bench.

North Medford?s Kyle Williamson, center, tries to drive on South Medford?s Spencer Hunter, left, and Craig Johnson during the championship game of the Abby?s Holiday Classic. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli