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South cruises past North

South Medford junior Julissa Tago went for 19 points, eight steals and five assists, senior Keyari Sleezer recorded 19 points and five rebounds and the second-ranked Panthers girls basketball team downed cross-town rival North Medford, 73-26, during Southwest Conference action at North Medford High on Wednesday night.

Junior Jasmin Falls turned in nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks and senior Andee Ritter added eight points, nine steals and eight assists for the Panthers (11-4, 4-0 SWC), who led 34-11 at halftime after a 25-6 surge in the second quarter.

South then rattled off a 26-5 run in the third to take a 60-16 advantage.

The Panthers outrebounded the Black Tornado, 42-27, and tallied 25 steals.

Neither team shot well — South was 29 percent from the field and North 24 percent — but the Panthers got up 89 shots and totaled 26 offensive boards compared to only 38 shots for the Tornado (7-7, 2-2). An active South defense helped tremendously in that department, forcing 35 turnovers and creating many transition opportunities.

The Panthers held just a 9-5 lead entering the second quarter before turning up the defensive heat. It was South's lowest points total in an opening period this season, and Tago had all nine points.

"Our kids just started being able to capitalize on defense," South head coach Tom Cole said of his team's improvements in the second quarter. "Those first 10 minutes of the game, I didn't think we played very well, and I thought some of that was North was very poised."

Hannah Washington chipped in six points and eight rebounds for South, which was coming off a 1-1 effort at an elite tournament in Springfield, Mass. South lost to a team from Connecticut and beat a Massachusetts squad.

Freshman Adriane McLemore had six points to lead North. Lexi Hall and Maggie Freeman each added five points.

“I thought we played well the first 10 minutes," North head coach Tim Karrick said. "The pressure kind of got to us in the second half of the second quarter and they went on a run."

The Tornado has a roster featuring six freshmen, four sophomores and no juniors. South Medford utilizes two sophomores — although sophomore starter Lauren Orndoff remains sidelined by injury — four juniors and four seniors.

“I respect what Tim is doing with the program," Cole said. "He is really infusing a lot of young players into his system."

SOUTH MEDFORD (73) — Williams 6, Tago 19, Johnson 0, A. Ritter 8, K. Ritter 4, Sleezer 19, Lemons 2, Falls 9, Washington 6. Totals: 26 18-22 73.

NORTH MEDFORD (26) — Lane 0, Parker 0, Martin 2, Ross 1, Bumgardner 3, Karrick 0, Hall 5, Covington 0, Kuykendall 0, Hamilton 0, Freeman 5, McLemore 6, Fossen 4. Totals: 9 8-21 26.

South Medford;9;25;26;13;—;73

North Medford;5;6;5;10;—;26

3-point goals — South Medford 3 (Tago 1, A. Ritter 1, Sleezer 1). Fouled out — Falls.

JV result — North Medford won.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@maitlribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt