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No. 3 South stuns Roseburg

It seemed unlikely that South Medford could top its performance from Tuesday, when the third-ranked Panthers scored a 17-point romp over No. 5 North Medford, but that was precisely what happened Friday night against visiting Roseburg.

Hoping to atone for a road loss to the Indians in the Southern Oregon Hybrid opener 21/2 weeks ago, South Medford dialed up the intensity and was as crisp as could be in routing Roseburg 64-37 in the Panther gym.

Pick a statistic and South Medford's boys basketball team likely was on the positive side. The Panthers (14-2, 4-1 SOH) shot 60 percent from the field (25-for-42), limited Roseburg to 13 field goals overall and won the battle on the boards, 24-21.

The biggest change from the last meeting with No. 10 Roseburg (10-4, 4-1) came from beyond the arc, however. The Panthers went 0-for-12 from 3-point range in the 58-48 loss on Jan. 4 but were a sizzling 8-for-12 from deep in the first half alone Friday. South Medford finished 10-for-18 overall (56 percent), half of those treys courtesy of senior Josh Havird.

"We just felt comfortable tonight, I think, and the shots went in," said Havird, who finished with a game-high 19 points and added three steals. "It seems like everyone was really confident. In practice everyone hits those shots, too, so when it comes to the time in games when they're open, we all hit 'em."

Being "open" proved to be in the eye of the beholder in the key SOH clash. There wasn't a whole lot of breathing room on most of South's 3-pointers.

"It's pretty hard to defend when they're knocking down fadeaway 3s and stuff like that," said Roseburg head coach Craig Stinnett. "It was just one of those nights, I guess."

Tevyn Mercer also dialed up a 3-pointer but did most of his damage in the paint to amass 15 points and eight rebounds, while Panther teammate Mike Brassel had three shots beyond the arc and finished with 14 points and eight assists. Nick Shanklin-Rice added seven points and three rebounds off the bench.

The Panthers' prowess from long range certainly delighted head coach Dennis Murphy, who set his sights pretty low considering the last time the teams met.

"We missed that first one (to open the game) and the next one we took Brassel hit, so I thought to myself, 'Well, at least we're not going to get shutout on 3s tonight,'" the coach said with a chuckle.

South Medford went on to finish with 19 assists on its 25 field goals, attesting to a willingness to share the ball and some deft shooting once the ball was in hand. The Panthers scored on their first nine possessions and on 29 of 51 overall.

"I'm really proud," Murphy said. "I thought our kids came out and played real hard. We felt if we could go play well against North then we could use that as a springboard against Roseburg. We knew how important this was. It was a must-win for us at this point in the season."

While the offense drew plenty of attention, the Panthers' defensive effort was just as pivotal against a talented Roseburg team led by returning starters Brad Seehawer, Micah Audiss and Tim Weber. The Indians were 6-for-13 from the field in the first quarter but regressed from there, going 3-for-7 in the second, 2-for-7 in the third and 2-for-10 in the fourth.

"We worked a lot (this week) in saying we had to get up into them and make them uncomfortable and force them to play faster," Murphy said, "because when they play slower, you're playing their game and they're very good."

Stinnett said the opposite was true Friday, with Roseburg attempting to play at a faster tempo to equal the energy produced by the Panthers.

"That's not our game," said Stinnett. "We started playing right into their game in the first quarter and shots were falling for us so it felt good. Then the kids just continued to do that and the turnovers just killed us in that second quarter. It was just downhill from there."

Only Weber was truly able to weather the storm for Roseburg, scoring 15 points, but all four of his field goals came in the first quarter. He was 6-for-8 from the foul line in the second half. Seehawer, the conference's leading scorer at about 17 points per game, was limited to seven points — all in the first half — and Audiss finished with two pints and five rebounds.

Key to the defensive effort was the work inside on Audiss by Kevin Thibeault and Austin Voss, while Sean Pearson and Havird were solid in disrupting the flow for Seehawer and Weber. Mercer was also vital with his defensive rebounding.

"We got out on them and didn't let them do what they wanted to do," said Havird. "I think that put them off-balance and we just stayed up on them and kept them uncomfortable."

ROSEBURG (37) — Weber 15, Seehawer 7, Stiefel 7, Priestley 4, Audiss 2, Nelson 2, VanHorn 0, Mauro 0, Spaulding 0, Lent 0, Leach 0. Totals: 13-37 8-14 37.

SOUTH MEDFORD (64) — Havird 19, Mercer 15, Brassel 14, Shanklin-Rice 7, Pearson 4, Voss 2, Marshall 2, Thibeault 1, Retzlaff 0, DeCoste 0, Delaney 0, Singler 0. Totals: 25-42 4-13 64.

Roseburg 15 7 8 7 — 37

South Medford 20 16 15 13 — 64

3-point goals — Roseburg 3-13 (Seehawer 2, Weber 1), South Medford 10-18 (Havird 5, Brassel 3, Mercer 1, Shanklin-Rice 1).

JV score — Roseburg 44, South Medford 37.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry

South Medford senior Tevyn Mercer swoops in for a shot against Roseburg's Tim Weber during Friday's game. - Larry Stauth Jr.