South cashes in on long-distance plan
When Josh Havird drained his first 3-pointer of Friday's game against cross-town rival North Medford, the South Medford sophomore didn't think much of it.
His next one didn't draw much of a reaction, either.
By the time he drained his seventh 3-pointer with 2:50 to play, Havird's smile was as wide as the Panthers' game-clinching rally in front of a capacity crowd at South Medford High.
Buoyed by Havird's sharp shooting, South Medford denied a determined effort by the Black Tornado with a 20-3, fourth-quarter surge to earn a 62-51 victory in Southwest Conference boys basketball.
Havird was a remarkable 7-of-8 from beyond the arc to finish with 22 points, and got plenty of support from senior teammate E.J. Singler, who led in all categories with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
"It didn't seem like he ever missed one," said North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn of Havird. "I know he did miss one, but it didn't seem like it. Every time we made a run he made a shot.
"You throw in that they have a (Division I) guy going to Oregon in E.J. that can make plays all over the place, that's a pretty big difference maker."
South Medford, ranked No. 7 in the Class 6A coaches' poll, improved to 12-5 overall and 5-3 in SWC play with the key triumph, while North Medford dropped to 12-4 and 4-4.
Somewhat lost in all the Panther dynamics was a stellar effort by Black Tornado senior Josh Pecktol, who had 19 points and six rebounds in shouldering the load for North.
"I just wanted to do everything I could to win this game for my team but, obviously, it wasn't enough," said Pecktol. "We played hard. That's all we asked for is to play hard, it just wasn't enough tonight."
Not with Havird swishing shots the way he was Friday.
Havird had connected on 18 of 52 3-point attempts entering the contest, but he was as pure as the Panthers have ever had in converting shot after shot. Only one former Panther — Michael Harthun — has ever made eight in a game and Havird joined a handful of others who previously had seven.
"I've had one game like that before where I started shooting and everything dropped, and I was kinda hoping for the same kinda luck or touch," said Havird, who had 10 3-pointers in an AAU game two summers ago. "It felt good out there. After about the third one, I knew it was going to be a good night."
Whether his big night would also include a victory was up in the air through 31/2 quarters until the Panthers finally exerted their will.
The teams traded 11-0 runs in the first half before South finally took a 25-23 lead into intermission. The back-and-forth nature carried through into the fourth quarter, with North Medford taking its first lead since midway through the second quarter with a Tanner Borg steal and layup with six minutes to play.
Borg's bucket, which also came on the heels of a 3-pointer by the senior, put the Black Tornado up 41-40 and brought many of the North faithful to their feet.
The remaining six minutes, however, were almost exclusively in South Medford's favor as the Panthers answered right back with jumpers by Mitch Singler and E.J. Singler and never looked back.
Havird connected on three of his 3-pointers in the final frame and E.J. Singler had 10 of his 25 points in the quarter — going 6-of-7 from the foul line — to deny a North Medford team that suddenly went cold from the field.
The Black Tornado missed six straight shots from the field after Borg's layup and was only 3-for-6 from the foul line during a five-minute stretch that determined the outcome. Overall, North was held to 19-of-53 shooting, including 2-of-22 from 3-point range.
"We just had no answer," said Plankenhorn. "We missed a bunch of free throws during that stretch and Havird hits a bunch of 3s and E.J. makes plays and we miss a couple ones we should've had. I think we get some shots we want there, they just don't go in."
Jordan Ellis, the SWC's second-leading scorer behind E.J. Singler at 18.4 points per game, picked up his third foul just 51/2 minutes into the game and managed only five points for North before fouling out with 2:30 to play. David Formolo helped pick up the slack with 10 points in his stead.
Mitch Singler added six points and another solid defensive effort against the Tornado, while Havird also chipped in with five rebounds.
NORTH MEDFORD (51) — Ellis 5, Pecktol 19, Maurer 4, Shipley 2, Faust 0, Borg 5, Formolo 10, Levos 2, Clark 2, Ross 2, Waits 0. Totals: 19-53 11-17 51.
SOUTH MEDFORD (62) — E.J. Singler 25, Havird 22, M. Singler 6, Petersen 4, Mercer 3, Wallan 2, McLaughlin 0, Dellenback-Ouellette 0, Brassel 0, Pratt 0. Totals: 23-43 8-12 62.
North Medford 17 6 9 19 — 51
South Medford 18 7 12 25 — 62
3-point goals — North Medford 2-22 (Pecktol 1, Borg 1), South Medford 8-11 (Havird 7, Mercer 1). Fouled out — Ellis.
JV score — South Medford 67, North Medford 45.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org