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Panthers fall short in last second

Josh Havird was at it again, but this time he came up one basket short for the South Medford boys basketball team.

Havird, who scored a career-high 30 points in a win the night before, poured in 28 against West Linn Tuesday in the semifinals of the Abby's Holiday Classic at South Medford.

But the basket he wanted most didn't materialize, and the Panthers suffered a 57-56 setback.

Havird, a 6-foot-3 junior, launched a game-winning attempt at the buzzer that hit off the front iron. The loss knocked the Panthers (5-4) into the third-place game against North Medford today at 4:15 p.m. at South Medford High.

West Linn faces Churchill for the championship at 6 p.m. at South Medford.

Eighteen of Havird's points came in the first quarter, when the senior came out firing to spark a 16-1 run that gave South Medford a 26-11 advantage a minute into the second.

West Linn answered with a rally of its own, streaking to an 18-5 run and cutting the halftime deficit to 37-35.

Michael Underriner was the first to stop the bleeding by banking in a 3-pointer, and his next trey — a bit more clean — capped the run.

"As the game goes on, good teams are going to make it tougher for you to score," Panthers coach Dennis Murphy said. "We weren't patient, and we burped up a number of just terrible shots."

South Medford continued its struggles in the second half, going stagnant on offense and only converting two field goals in the third quarter, and West Linn continued to capitalize. Another Underriner 3-pointer off a flare screen gave the Lions their biggest lead, 49-45, going into the fourth.

Havird made his sixth and final 3-pointer to open the final period, and a Tevyn Mercer layup gave the Panthers the lead back 15 seconds later.

Underriner, West Linn's biggest body, snatched the lead back from the Panthers with his fifth 3 a couple minutes later, and Jeff Bush's driving layup off the dribble extended the lead to 55-52 with four minutes remaining.

South then continued the back-and-forth trend, scoring two buckets within 20 seconds as Havird gave the Panthers their final lead after leaking out for a fastbreak layup.

South Medford had a chance to extend the advantage with 56 seconds left, but Mike Brassel missed the front end of a one-and-one.

West Linn's next possession started with a missed 3-point attempt, continued with an offensive rebound and was capped by a bounce pass to a wide-open Bush under the basket that put West Linn in the lead once more, 57-56, with 30 seconds to go.

Havird was unable to answer at the other end — his reverse layup hit off the bottom of the backboard — and the Panthers needed to commit three fouls to send West Linn to the line and extend the game.

After committing the first two, the ball was stripped out of Bush's hands, and although he recovered, the senior point guard fell backwards and into a travel call, giving South Medford the ball back at half court with 1.9 seconds left.

Following a timeout, Havird came off a screen and had a contested look in the corner, but the buzzer sounded as the ball hit off the rim.

Following the game, Murphy kept his players in the locker room for about a half hour, film session included, to dissect the loss.

"We're still just learning how to play the game, and a lot of the kids just aren't getting it right now," Murphy said. "We don't know the difference between a good shot and a bad one right now, and it really came back to haunt us at the end."

Bush led West Linn with 18 points, while Underriner had 15 on five triples. The Tigers finished with 10 3s.

Havird was the only Panther to convert from beyond the arc, and Mercer was the only other Panther to hit double digits. Only six of South's 18 field goals came after the first half.

"As bad as we played, we still had our chances to win it at the end," Murphy said. "I just think we got a fall sense of security after the way we started and never bounced back. This is certainly one that we have to learn from."

WEST LINN (57) — Shonkwiler 6, Fay 2, Wilkerson 13, Bush 18, Underriner 15, Weber 2, Baggetta 1. Totals: 20 5-9 57.

SOUTH MEDFORD (56) — Brassel 3, Pearson 4, Havird 28, Pratt 8, Mercer 10, Voss 3. Totals: 18 14-17 56.

West Linn 11 24 14 8 — 57

South Medford 24 13 8 11 — 56

3-point goals — West Linn 10 (Underriner 5, Shonkwiler 2, Wilkerson 3), South Medford 6 (Havird 6).