South silences doubters in rout
As much as North Medford has improved in boys basketball, South Medford proved Tuesday that it isn't interested in unleashing its stronghold on city supremacy just yet.
Led by an energetic performance from Miles Petersen and Mitch Singler, and a near triple-double by E.J. Singler, the fifth-ranked Panthers wasted little time showing that the rumors of their program's demise were a little premature.
South Medford opened a 17-6 lead after one quarter of play and essentially maintained a double-digit lead over the final 24 minutes en route to a 76-58 triumph over the seventh-ranked Black Tornado at a jam-packed North Medford High.
The win was the Panthers' 19th in the past 20 meetings with the Black Tornado, and boosted their overall edge in the series to 36-14 in the 50th meeting since Medford High split in 1986. The teams were picked as co-favorites to win the Southwest Conference championship.
"I'm just so happy for our kids because we have struggled," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy, whose team returned only two varsity players. "It was a real big challenge, and we truly came over and took it head on."
No one took the challenge to heart more than Petersen, who was relentless on offense and defense and set the tone with eight first-quarter points. The 6-foot-2 post finished with a career-high 19 points and nine rebounds.
"We told him before the game, when the phone rings I hope you're ready to answer it because you're going to get a call," said Murphy. "He's a great kid and didn't try to do anything he shouldn't do. He just gave us a great lift to get the thing going."
Given that fellow senior post Cameron Kynard was absent for undisclosed reasons, Petersen said he knew he would have to step up his play Tuesday night.
"I was given the opportunity to start, and I had something to go out and prove," said Petersen, who was averaging just under five points entering the game. "I don't think they were expecting me to have this type of game. I just thought, 'Crash the boards, take good shots and make them,' and that's what we all did tonight. We kind of took them out of their game."
North Medford (10-1, 2-1 SWC) was outrebounded for one of the rare times this season (39-33), and was stymied on offense thanks to a Panther defense that took the Tornado a little out of its comfort zone. North managed to shoot only 25 percent (16 of 63) from the field, including a woeful 8 of 35 from 3-point range one game after putting up a record 36 treys and making nine.
"They came out a lot more aggressive than we were today, and we didn't hit any of our shots," said North Medford senior Jordan Ellis, who had nine of his 14 points in the second half. "But luckily it's early in the season and, hopefully, we can rebound. I think we needed a tough game like this to prepare us for the rest of the season."
Despite another impressive outing by E.J. Singler, who had 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, the 6-6 senior deferred most of the credit to Petersen, his cousin Mitch Singler and the rest of his teammates.
"I think this was the best we've played so far," said E.J. Singler. "Everyone just played really hard and came up big for us. Miles definitely springboarded us in the first quarter, and I've got to hand it to Mitch because he played really good defense on Ellis."
Josh Havird added 10 points, Mitch Singler had nine and Tevyn Mercer eight for the Panthers (9-3, 2-1 SWC), who shot 53 percent (28-for-52) from the field.
"It's by far our best win of the year," added Murphy. "We just hope it's a sign of the times to come. You surely just have to take it for what it was tonight, but boy we were a good basketball team tonight."
Matt Maurer finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead North, while Tanner Borg came off the bench to drain five 3-pointers for 15 points.
Standout senior Josh Pecktol was limited by early foul trouble, getting his third with 4:17 to go in the first half and then picking up his fourth after charging into Petersen one minute into the third quarter. His absence was a big blow to North's chances, with Pecktol totaling only four points and four rebounds.
SOUTH MEDFORD (76) — E.J. Singler 24, Petersen 19, Havird 10, M. Singler 9, Mercer 8, McLaughlin 3, Brassel 3, Wallan 0, Pratt 0. Totals: 28-52 17-29 76.
NORTH MEDFORD (58) — Maurer 16, Borg 15, Ellis 14, Shipley 5, Pecktol 4, Levos 2, Ross 1, Clark 1, Faust 0, Formolo 0, Bradshaw 0. Totals: 16-63 18-27 58.
South Medford 17 13 25 21 — 76
North Medford 6 10 20 22 — 58
3-point goals — South Medford 3-6 (Havird 2, Petersen 1), North Medford 8-35 (Borg 5, Ellis 2, Maurer 1). Fouled out — Pecktol. Technical fouls — North Medford coach Plankenhorn.
JV score — South Medford 70, North Medford 48.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org