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South overwhelms Roseburg

South Medford’s No. 2-ranked girls basketball team was in fine position but not exactly showing its true colors by halftime against Roseburg in Southwest Conference play Tuesday.

The third quarter, however, brought about a big change for Tom Cole’s Panthers.

With junior guard Julissa Tago as the driving force on offense and seniors Andee Ritter and Keyari Sleezer guiding the defense, South Medford outscored the Indians 16-0 in the frame to build an insurmountable lead en route to a 59-41 win at South Medford High.

“Tom just told us at halftime to execute and do what we know to do,” Tago said of the turnaround after only taking a 29-24 lead into the break. “In the beginning we were kinda slow, and on defense, we weren’t getting to loose balls and making the extra plays. He told us in the locker room to come out with more intensity and that’s what we did. It helped us a lot, on defense especially.”

South Medford (13-4, 6-0 SWC) limited Roseburg to only two shot attempts in the first half of the third quarter and the Indians finished 0-for-8 from the field in the frame. Ritter and Sleezer combined for three steals and were instrumental in forcing four turnovers by the Indians (11-5, 4-2), who entered Tuesday’s game in a second-place tie with Sheldon.

“We just forgot how to score there for a little bit,” said first-year Roseburg head coach Richard Robles. “We weren’t tough enough with the ball and quit looking to be aggressive. Post players, guards, every one of them … we just didn’t have a lot of scoring punch, obviously.”

“And, of course, we couldn’t stop them on the other side because they’re scoring at a good clip,” he added. “Our only chance was to keep scoring with them and we couldn’t.”

Tago packed the biggest punch for the Panthers with nine of her game-high 21 points in the third, which ended with South Medford comfortably ahead, 45-24. The 5-foot-9 standout, who entered the game as the SWC’s leading scorer (17.8 points per game), also had six rebounds and four assists to go with a solid defensive effort on the back line.

“I thought she got a rhythm in the second quarter (scoring South’s final six points) and kept us in the game,” said Cole, “and then she came out in the third quarter and was very aggressive attacking the bucket, and that opened up some shots for kids. She was really good tonight.”

From mid-range buckets to attacking drives at the basket, Tago found myriad ways to dissect Roseburg when her team needed it most.

“My teammates just found me in places where I was open,” she said. “Without them I wouldn’t have been able to get the shots that I got.”

Ritter was particularly aggressive on defense with six steals but also showed off her shooting touch with four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points. The 6-foot guard, who is rounding into form after missing most of last season with a torn ACL, added four rebounds and three assists to go with nice praise from her coach.

“Andee was aggressive tonight and much more mobile,” said Cole, “and she shot the ball really well. She’s only going to continue to improve as we keep going.”

Junior post Jasmin Falls supplied 10 points and 11 rebounds while junior running mate Hannah Washington added seven rebounds and Sleezer finished with eight points.

Sophomore Lauren Orndoff, who was leading the Panthers in scoring (17 ppg) prior to a Dec. 16 injury, made her return to action and added two points, two rebounds and two blocks.

“I think everyone stepped up and contributed where they needed to be,” said Tago. “It was a good team win.”

It was especially important given that seventh-ranked Sheldon comes to town on Friday.

“It’s good to play a team where we don’t blow them out by 40,” said Tago. “It was a good experience and I think that kinda gets us ready for Friday because we know it’s going to be a huge game.”

Roseburg’s 6-3 junior center, Jordan Stotler, scored nine of her team-high 13 points in the first half and added half of her eight rebounds in that span to keep the Indians within striking distance at halftime down 29-24.

“We knew that (the Indians) were going to come with their best effort, as every team does when they play us because we are one of the best ranked teams in the state,” said Tago. “They’ve gotten a lot better and props to them, they played a really good game.”

Roseburg was 9-for-25 from the field in the opening 16 minutes but finished 15-for-45 overall, while South Medford was 21-for-56 overall.

“Tonight was one of those games where we weren’t particularly shooting very well and we missed some defensive cues,” said Cole, “but I thought we did a much better job of communicating in the second half.”

ROSEBURG (41) — Stotler 13, Farrington 7, Backen 6, Jackson 5, Wyscaver 5, Stricklin 3, Fox 2, Chong 0. Totals: 15-45 9-15 41.

SOUTH MEDFORD (59) — Tago 21, Ritter 14, Falls 10, Sleezer 8, Washington 3, Orndoff 2, Williams 1, Lemons 0, Johnson 0. Totals: 21-56 13-19 59.

Roseburg;10;14;0;17;—;41

South Medford;16;13;16;14;—;59

3-point goals — Roseburg 2-6 (Farrington 1, Wyscaver 1), South Medford 4-16 (Ritter 4).

JV score — Roseburg 54, South Medford 46.

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

Senior Andee Ritter of South Medford scoops up a loose ball between Roseburg defenders as teammate Keyari Sleezer and coach Tom Cole look. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
South Medford junior Jasmin Falls goes up for a shot against Roseburg defender Meg Jackson on Tuesday. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.