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South girls rally to stun SWC leaders Axemen

The "statement" win comes along every so often for each basketball program.

At South Medford, however, those victories have been few and far between for the girls basketball program in recent years.

But on Friday, the Panthers may have found that season-defining triumph. And it came against the top team in the Southwest Conference, no less.

Brittney Newcomb scored 23 points and South Medford used a big second half to rally from a 39-20 halftime deficit and knock off South Eugene, 63-61, at the Panther gym.

Sheena Barkley gave South Medford its first lead at the 1:12 mark of the fourth quarter and free throws from Kinzie Towry, Alanna Stevens and Barkley down the stretch helped seal the comeback win.

"This is huge for us," said first-year Panther coach Tom Cole. "In terms of growth for this team, this win is tremendous."

South Medford (9-3, 2-1 SWC) was coming off a 73-42 loss to North Medford on Tuesday. The Panthers trailed 45-13 at the half in that contest.

"We learned from that North Medford loss," said Cole. "Although we've experienced some success this year, we're trying to change the culture that has existed at South Medford the last few years. When things got tough in the past, these girls would give up. We had a flashback to that early on tonight but the girls came back and played their hearts out."

Barkley weaved through traffic to sink a short basket and draw the foul to give South Medford the lead in the waning moments of the contest. She then sank two free throws one possession later to push the lead to four.

Towry added a free throw and, after a South Eugene (8-5, 2-1) basket later cut the lead to one, Stevens sank another foul shot with one second to play to produce the final margin.

Barkley scored 10 points for the Panthers, while Nagely Medina contributed eight rebounds and Towry and Jamee Batten each ripped down seven boards.

SOUTH EUGENE (61) — Kerins 15, Barnes 14, Williams 12, Whitfield 11, Roberts 5, Teninty 0, Clark 2, Cook 2. Totals: 24 10-16 61.

SOUTH MEDFORD (63) — Newcomb 23, Barkley 10, Stevens 9, Medina 8, Batten 6, Towry 5, Salisbury 2, McCoy 0. Totals: 23 14-20 63.

South Eugene 24 15 6 16 — 61

South Medford 10 10 20 23 — 63

3-point goals — South Eugene 3 (Whitfield 1, Barnes 2), South Medford 3 (Newcomb 3). Technical foul — South Medford bench.

JV result — South Eugene won.