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Grant hands South Medford another loss

HILLSBORO — Another bad quarter turned into another loss for the top-ranked South Medford boys basketball team Saturday, and the Panthers have nine days to think about how to get back to their winning ways.

A night after giving up a 17-2 run in a loss to No. 2 Oregon City, South fell behind 17-1 from the opening tip and eventually lost 72-62 to No. 6 Grant of Portland in the third-place game of the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High.

Grant allowed South to hit just 6 of 25 shots from the field in the first half and finished the game with a 45-27 edge in rebounding to recover from a 79-45 pounding at the hands of eventual tourney champion Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Calif., on Friday.

Archbishop Mitty won the 16-team tournament with an 86-75 victory over Oregon City, which downed the Panthers 64-58 in a semifinal game Friday.

South, which got 31 points and six rebounds from junior E.J. Singler, dropped to 9-2 with its Southwest Conference opener set for Jan. 8 at home against North Medford.

"We talked about how much (losing to Oregon City) bothered our guys and when we fell behind by 16 (tonight), it didn't seem to bother the guys too much," South Medford coach Dennis Murphy said. "And that's a problem because losing can be contagious, just like winning."

Said Singler, "We've got a lot of work to do, a lot of thinking to do."

Grant got 24 points from Michael James and junior forward Michael Moser added 15 points and 12 rebounds to help reassert the Generals as a threat to win the state title. Grant made 28 of 59 shots from the field (47 percent) and blocked six shots — four by Moser, who is blossoming into a player of comparable talent to Singler.

Grant (7-3) dazzled the crowd in the first quarter with its pressure defense and up-tempo style of play — highlighted by Moser, who had a dunk and two other highly athletic plays for baskets in the 17-1 run.

The Panthers rarely got an open look at the basket and often settled for rushed or off-balance shots.

"We came out with some extra intensity," Grant coach Tony Broadous said. "That felt great to come out like that after the way we played the night before."

"We work on our defense setting up our offense," said Grant senior guard Paul McCoy, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. "We worked really hard to get on (Michael) Harthun and Singler and stay on them.

"And, we've got a lot of potential as a team. We're just warming up."

Singler, who hit 11 of 21 shots from the field and played all 32 minutes, said the Grant defense affected the Panthers.

"I felt like we were scared," Singler said. "And the officials let a lot of rough play go, which didn't help."

The Panthers finished the game with 17 assists on 23 field goals, but had just four at halftime, which Murphy pounced on.

"We didn't get many good looks at the basket at the start of the game, but we didn't work for those good looks either," he said. "Good teams make that extra pass, work the ball inside with that extra effort, hold onto the ball and wait for a better shot."

The Panthers rallied in the second half to trail by just six in the third quarter, 42-36, and then again by six in the final minute, but couldn't overcome the poor start.

"Good teams don't go behind by 16 points at the start of the game," Murphy said. "Right now, we're not a good team."

The losses to Oregon City and Grant should drop the Panthers in the state rankings, but it also provides some clarity in determining the top state title contenders. Both the Pioneers and Generals should be included in that group as well as Sunset of Beaverton, which has a win over Grant, and Southridge of Beaverton, which is 10-1 and averaging 78 points per game.

SOUTH MEDFORD (62) — E. Singler 31, Harthun 14, M. Singler 7, Boyd 5, Work 3, Haveman 2, Aguirre 0, Kezer 0, Walport 0, Egan 0.

GRANT (72) — James 24, McCoy 20, Moser 15, Shaw 4, Acker 3, Broadous 2, Potts 2, Staley 2, Fendall 0, Hardin 0.

Grant 21 11 15 25 —72

South Medford 8 8 20 26 —62

3-point goals — South Medford 4 (Harthun 2, M. Singler 1, Boyd 1), Grant 4 (McCoy 2, James 1, Acker 1).