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Panthers pull away

The beginning certainly left a lot to be desired but South Medford rounded into form and hit high gear toward the end in opening the 25th annual Abby’s Holiday Classic with a 71-55 victory over West Albany on Sunday at South Medford High.

The visiting Bulldogs (5-3) executed to perfection to score 22 first-quarter points and took a 36-32 lead into intermission, but the final 16 minutes were dominated by the Panthers to secure the opening-round boys basketball triumph.

South Medford (5-2) outscored West Albany 21-8 in the third quarter to regain control of the contest and allowed only 19 points overall in the second half.

“Obviously we challenged them pretty hard at halftime in that that’s not the team we need to be, especially defensively,” said South Medford head coach Dennis Murphy. “Historically our defense has always ignited our offense and the third quarter was living proof of that. It’s a good credit to the kids for coming out and doing that, but we can’t come out and give up 22 points in the first quarter.”

Cameron English secured a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Eskari Carter had 10 points and the Panthers got nine apiece from Hunter Bradford, Craig Contreras and Kaleb Franklin to display their balance.

South Medford advances to face Cleveland, a 53-36 winner over Roseburg, at 7:45 tonight in the semifinals at South Medford High.

“(Cleveland coach) Don Emry is a great guy and a great coach and has done a great job with Cleveland bringing them back,” Murphy said of the matchup. “They’ll come out tomorrow night and get right after us the same way West Albany did. None of them are easy, and as you go through tournaments each game becomes more difficult so we surely expect that.”

The 6 p.m. semifinal pits North Medford (7-1) against Franklin (3-2), with consolation games also being played at 2:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. All tournament games today and Tuesday are at South Medford High.

Isaiah Edwards managed 20 first-half points for the Bulldogs but was held to only one basket in the second half to finish with 22. Cooper Getsfrid added 16 points — four in the second half — and joined Edwards with six rebounds.

“South did a really good job of focusing on our scorers at the start of the half and making it real difficult for us to score off our first option,” said West Albany head coach Todd Zimmermann. “Good teams make adjustments like that, and they did.”

An 11-0 run midway through the third quarter provided a turning point to the game, with Bradford knocking down a pair of free throws after being fouled on an offensive putback. A 3-pointer by Contreras, two inside baskets by English and a driving layup by Carter ensued to give South Medford a 50-42 lead.

On the opposite end, Bradford took a charge and the Bulldogs managed four one-and-done offensive series.

“The South kids came out and they got themselves the shots they wanted from the spots that they wanted them, and they knocked them down,” said Zimmermann. “And when they didn’t knock them down, their big kids did a fantastic job of crashing the boards. The offensive rebound totals were just unbelievably lopsided there in the second half; they just owned the O-glass.”

The 6-foot-9 English joined Bradford (6-8) and Josh Washington (6-6) in swatting two shots apiece, while Franklin (six steals) and Contreras (three steals) were especially pesky on the defensive end. Bradford finished with 11 rebounds, while Washington and Contreras each pulled down six boards to help the Panthers to a 37-27 advantage.

“Our posts are guys that we value tremendously,” said Murphy. “I thought Cam had a great game and got back on track to where we need him to be, and Hunter competes awfully hard and he got key rebounds when we needed them.”

WEST ALBANY (55) — Edwards 22, Getsfrid 16, Shelby 7, Potter 4, Meyers 3, Stewart 3, Burchfiel 0, Cheney 0, Roos 0, Kiest 0, Roberts 0. Totals: 19-46 11-21 55.

SOUTH MEDFORD (71) — English 19, Carter 10, Contreras 9, Bradford 9, Franklin 9, Massey 8, Carroll 5, Washington 2, Benford 0. Totals: 25-51 14-26 71.

West Albany;22;14;8;11;—;55

South Medford;19;13;21;18;—;71

3-point goals — West Albany 6-12 (Edwards 4, Stewart 1, Potter 1), South Medford 7-17 (Contreras 2, Massey 2, English 1, Carroll 1, Franklin 1). Fouled out — Bradford, Meyers.

CLEVELAND 53, ROSEBURG 36: Nick Hull poured in 18 points and Danny Carr added 14 to propel Cleveland to the opening-round victory at South Medford High.

The Warriors (5-1) drained all three of their 3-pointers in the first quarter to build an 18-10 cushion on Roseburg, then sealed the victory with another 18-10 surge in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Patoine led a balanced attack by Roseburg (2-6) with eight points, while Jake Stephens and Chris Stone each had seven.

The Indians will play West Albany at 4:15 p.m. today in the consolation round at South Medford High.

CLEVELAND (53) — Hull 18, Carr 14, Williams 7, Smith 4, Austin 4, Roberts 2, Gray 2, Ishimaru 1, Naemura 1, Bergin 0, Moore 0. Totals: 23 4-7 53.

ROSEBURG (36) — Patoine 8, Stephens 7, Stone 7, Knapp 5, Early 3, Fairbairn 4, Tharp 2, Lake 0, Cuilty 0, Luttrell 0, Paschke 0. Totals: 13 5-8 36.

Cleveland;18;8;9;18;—;53

Roseburg;10;7;9;10;—;36

3-point goals — Cleveland 3 (Carr 2, Hull 1), Roseburg 5 (Patoine 1, Stone 1, Early 1, Knapp 1, Stephens 1).

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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South Medford's Eskari Carter, right, a junior guard, goes up for a shot against West Albany's Kyle Myers (15) during the Panthers' 71-55 win over West Albany on Sunday. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
South Medford senior Cameron English puts up a shot against West Albany defenders on the opening day of the Abby's Holiday Classic at South Medford High on Sunday. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.