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South marches on

Harthun scores 36 points to go with 10 assists as the Panthers dominate Wilson High School

It was meant as no disrespect, mind you, but Wilson High's boys basketball team essentially dared South Medford point guard Michael Harthun to beat them in Wednesday's first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Big mistake.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore put on a show in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Panthers Palace, knocking down five 3-pointers in the first quarter to leave no doubt that South would move on to the second round.

Harthun was 7 of 9 from the field in the first quarter for 19 points ' three less than the visiting Trojans had during the entire first half as the top-ranked Panthers breezed to a 100-52 triumph.

We had based all of our defensive game plan on stopping the big guys and neglected to get on him early and he hit like five in a row on us, Wilson coach Scott Aker said of being blindsided by Harthun.

— Even after Aker switched his defense, the shots still kept dropping for Harthun as he finished with a season-high 36 points. He was 11-for-14 from the field and 7-for-8 from the foul line, and still found time to dish out 10 assists.

That was a mistake, South junior Kyle Singler said of the Trojans' game plan. You don't want to leave Mike open to shoot the ball because if he gets hot like he did tonight, you can say goodbye. It's an unbelievable thing, he can just get on a roll and keep knocking down shot after shot.

Which is precisely what happened Wednesday.

It felt like the AAU days a little bit, said Harthun, who once had 44 points as an eighth grader and regularly reached the 30s on the summer circuit. I didn't really feel like any defenders were on me. It just felt like nobody was there and the basket was the ocean.

It was that way from the start for the Panthers (24-1) overall, with a basket by Kendall Gielow followed by 3-pointers from Harthun and Myles Daley and another basket inside by Brent Johnson for a 10-0 lead.

The game was so in hand early that Singler, South's leading scorer at 21 points per game, didn't really look for a shot until the second half. The 6-8 standout still finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Gielow had 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

They're just a talented basketball team, said Aker, whose team dropped to 15-10. You can't really focus on one or two guys, they've got a bunch of guys that can get it done. They're going to be tough to beat.

Wilson senior Ian Andersen led his team with 20 points, 13 in the second half to fall just shy of his average (21.6). The 6-4 wing ranks sixth in the state in scoring and was extremely impressed by South's relentless attack.

They're a great team, said Andersen, who has signed to play for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. We came out and played hard but when you've got players like that all around, you can come out as hard as you want and they'll still find ways to beat you. They just came out and played a great game.

None better than Harthun, who in one moment had the crowd raving about his jump-shot and the next had the fans baffled by his pinpoint passing.

It was just one of those nights that you live for, said Harthun. That's why you practice in your backyard and play basketball every day so you can have nights like this. I just got into a zone and it felt like I couldn't miss tonight.

A lot of the credit goes to my teammates, though, for getting me the ball when I was open and looking for me, he quickly added.

South's 18th straight victory, coupled with Mountain View's come-from-behind, 54-51 win over Aloha on Wednesday, sets up a battle of league champions in Bend on Saturday. The winner of that second-round affair advances to the March 9-11 state tournament in Eugene.

We know it's going to be a hostile place and they're going to play tough and not back down, Singler said of the Cougars. They have a good record, a good team and a good coach so we're just going to go in there and try to play as a team and hopefully that will take care of everything.

Daley and Jeff Stanek each added nine points for the Panthers, while Johnson had seven points and six rebounds and Dylan Anderson dropped in seven off the bench. Anderson's final basket came via one of Stanek's four assists and sent the already delirious South crowd into a frenzy as the Panthers reached the century mark for the fourth time.

Our fans are great, said Singler. All 10 of us just love to play basketball in front of them because they bring such a great energy.

WILSON (52) ' Andersen 20, Hoy 7, Finley 6, Bauer 5, Hereford 4, Norton 3, Erceg 3, Hoarfrost 2, Hughes 2, Kenney 0, Aker 0, Gill 0. Totals: 19-52 11-17 52.

SOUTH MEDFORD (100) ' Harthun 36, K. Singler 15, Gielow 14, Daley 9, Stanek 9, Johnson 7, Anderson 7, E.J. Singler 2, Grimes 1, DeSimone 0. Totals: 31-55 28-37 100.

Wilson.......................................8 14 14 16 ' 52

South Medford........................28 16 24 32 ' 100

3-point goals ' Wilson 3-20 (Andersen 1, Bauer 1, Erceg 1), South Medford 10-14 (Harthun 7, Daley 1, Gielow 1, Anderson 1). Technical fouls ' Erceg.

South marches on"khenry@mailtribune.com.

South Medford?s Michael Harthun is fouled on a shot attempt during the Panthers? first round state playoff game against visiting Wilson on Wednesday. Harthun scored a season-high 36 points. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli