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Panthers off and running

South Medford may not have Kyle Singler anymore, but the Panthers proved Friday that the show will still go on in Medford.

Led by Michael Harthun, E.J. Singler and a stifling defense, South Medford used three scoring surges to pull away early from visiting Mountain View en route to a 75-50 season-opening victory.

Harthun had 18 points and E.J. Singler almost added a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help the Panthers (1-0) open a 25-point lead by halftime.

"There's definitely a lot of things we can work on, but defensively I think we played pretty well," said Harthun, who has signed to play next year at Washington State. "Our defense always leads to our offense."

South Medford broke open the game with a 12-3 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter to take a 21-10 lead, then kept up the pressure with a 10-2 run to open the second quarter. The Panthers closed the first half with a similar 10-2 run to head into intermission up 47-22.

The two teams essentially traded baskets in the second half.

"They're not as big as they've been in years past but they're very athletic and very quick and they can extend the floor defensively and offensively," said Mountain View coach Craig Reid, whose team dropped to 1-3.

"If they shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as they did early on tonight," added Reid, "it's going to be a very good year for them."

South Medford was 19-for-36 from the field (53 percent) in the first half — 5-for-7 from 3-point range — and forced the bulk of the Cougars' 23 turnovers in that span. The Panthers' 36 shot attempts in the first 16 minutes equaled Mountain View's total for the entire game (20-for-36).

"I thought we took a good step in the right direction for the first time out," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy, whose team was playing without Kyle Singler in uniform for the first time in 82 games.

"I told the kids afterward we took a test and in some parts we did pretty well and in some other parts we need to learn the material a little better," added the 20th-year coach. "We'll come back tomorrow and try to be better in those areas."

South Medford plays host to Bend at 2:45 p.m. today. The Lava Bears (0-3) lost 74-46 to North Medford on Friday.

While all eyes were poised for an offensive explosion early by Harthun, it was fellow guard Gonzalo Duran-Chaparro who offered up the early fireworks. The 5-10 senior drilled a 3-pointer to open the scoring and added two more treys in scoring all 11 of his points in the first half.

Brandon Kezer added eight points off the bench and Shawn Phillips made an instant impact by scoring all six of his points in a span of about 90 seconds to close the second quarter.

"That's huge when we have players like Gonzalo coming out hitting shots and Kezer hitting shots," said Harthun, who also had three 3-pointers, "and Shawn Phillips coming out getting a quick six points. The players all come off the bench and play hard and contribute in a big way, and that's really big for us."

Conner Egan added five points and five rebounds in his return to the court after missing the final 10 weeks of last season due to complications from a head injury, while the Panthers also received solid efforts from Mitch Singler and Griff Boyd.

In all, 11 players scored for South Medford, which graduated six players from last year's Class 6A state championship team.

Sean Dart, a 6-7 senior post, led Class 5A Mountain View with 17 points and five rebounds, while Brady Brent added 12 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.

"We showed some jitters," said Reid. "We graduated 10 seniors and this is the biggest game that these kids have played in. I thought we showed a lot more composure in the second half. Every game for us at this point is a learning experience and just realizing what we can do."

MOUNTAIN VIEW (50) — Dart 17, B. Brent 12, Coduti 5, Ashbaugh 4, Ridling 4, Cashman 2, Jacobson 2, Thompson 2, Bent 2, Zapata 0, Kuhn 0, Mitchell 0, S. Brent 0, Wilcox 0. Totals: 20-36 7-13 50.

SOUTH MEDFORD (75) — Harthun 18, E.J. Singler 13, Duran-Chaparro 11, Kezer 8, Phillips 6, Egan 5, M. Singler 4, Boyd 4, Walport 2, Haveman 2, Aguirre 2, Work 0. Totals: 32-71 5-10 75.

Mountain View 10 12 17 11 — 50

South Medford 21 26 18 10 — 75

3-point goals — Mountain View 3-9 (B. Brent 2, Coduti 1), South Medford 6-13 (Duran-Chaparro 3, Harthun 3).

JV score — South Medford 73, Mountain View 44.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Panthers off and running