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Strong finish for Panthers

Aside from the players on the basketball court, the hardest-working woman inside the South Medford High gymnasium on Wednesday night must have been Amy Conroy.

Understand that the first-year South Medford assistant is in charge of keeping the top-ranked Panthers' statistics. And if you've watched South for even just a few minutes this season you know that the team piles up numbers quicker than a New York minute.

In the Panthers' Southern Oregon Hybrid finale against North Medford, Conroy kept plenty busy. Her iPad overflowed with stats after South's 83-43 triumph, which sealed the squad's second straight undefeated league season.

Of course, that's nothing unusual. The Panthers kept their entire record unblemished at 24-0 with a devastatingly productive roster.

Junior guard Kylie Towry scored 19 points, senior post Tess Picknell recorded 12 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks and sophomore guard/forward Ashley Bolston turned in 16 points, five assists, five rebounds and three blocks for South.

The Panthers secured several confidence-boosting nonconference wins before steamrolling through their 12-game SOH schedule this year. South, which averaged 76 points a night during league play, will next host fourth-ranked St. Mary's of Portland in a nonconference tuneup game on Saturday.

After that, South will host a first-round Class 6A state playoff contest next Tuesday. Last season, the Panthers won their first-round and second-round playoff games before falling to Jesuit and then to Tigard at the state tournament in Portland.

"We are excited and looking forward to playing better competition," Picknell said. "(We're) just happy that we are going to the playoffs. It is going to be exciting."

Already, South owns wins over Oregon City, Springfield, Clackamas, Westview and Jesuit and is ranked 25th nationally by MaxPreps.

"I think we believe in ourselves enough to know we can compete with anybody if we play up to our ability," South head coach Tom Cole said. "I do think we have that level of confidence, but I also think that these kids recognize that the journey is far from over."

The Panthers turned the page on their league season authoritatively.

South never trailed and led 43-21 at halftime.

Andee Ritter registered 10 points, Yaremi Mejia had eight points, seven assists and four steals, Luisa Tago chipped in six points, eight rebounds and three steals and Leilani Morris added six points and five rebounds.

The Panthers committed just seven turnovers and forced 24 against North.

"Our defense has really improved all season long," Cole said. "If the kids aren't getting steals they are getting their hands on passes and disrupting passing lanes."

South will be in for a tougher challenge against the St. Mary's Blues. The Mt. Hood Conference runner-up is 17-7 and finished 10-2 in league play.

"That game is going to be a great motivator for us," said Towry, who buried five triples.

For North (10-13, 3-9 SOH), McKensey Peters had 10 points and five rebounds, Becca Allen scored 10 points and Mikayla Murphy added eight points and 11 rebounds. The Black Tornado will host Hillsboro in a 6A state play-in game at 7 p.m. on Friday.

"I was a little frustrated," North head coach Kailey Bostwick said. "I didn't think we had a very good game to get us ready for our Friday game."

South's contest at 6 p.m. on Saturday has been tabbed "Pink Out". A $16 Pink Panther package will include admission and a "Proudly Pink Panther" T-shirt, with 100 percent of the game-proceed profits going to screening services for uninsured women. For more information or to purchase tickets call 541-210-8662.

NORTH MEDFORD (43) — Ellis 6, Straub 0, Martin 0, Thomas 2, Erb 5, Peters 10, Allen 10, Matagi 2, Murphy 8, Randleman 0. Totals: 15 8-20 43.

SOUTH MEDFORD (83) — Vargas 6, Towry 19, Tago 6, Ritter 10, Bolston 16, Sleezer 0, Sprang 0, Mejia 8, Morris 6, Picknell 12. Totals: 34 6-11 83.

North Medford 9 12 12 10 — 43

South Medford 22 21 24 16 — 83

3-point goals — North Medford 5 (Ellis 1, Erb 1, Allen 2, Murphy 1), South Medford 9 (Towry 5, Ritter 2, Vargas 2). Fouled out — Ritter.

JV result — South Medford won.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com

South Medford's Ashley Bolston, center, breaks through a double team by North Medford's Jocilynn Ellis (1) and Kendell Erb during Wednesday's game. - Larry Stauth