Massey propels Panthers
With his shooting touch a little off over the past two games, South Medford senior point guard Brayden Massey put in a little extra work to get dialed in for the second half of the Southwest Conference boys basketball season.
The 6-foot-1 floor leader admits he remains a work in progress as he recovers from a broken ankle suffered early in the football season, but Tuesday’s results were definitely a good foundation to build upon.
Massey came out firing on all cylinders, draining three 3-pointers and scoring 13 points in the first half as the 10th-ranked Panthers took control of their contest against Grants Pass and cruised to a 60-45 triumph at South Medford High.
Massey finished 6-for-11 from the field for a game-high 18 points.
“My shot’s been off and I think it’s from coming back from my ankle injury and being able to jump higher now,” said Massey, who is averaging 12.2 points in SWC play. “I just got into the gym and put up a bunch of shots because I should be shooting it better.
“Tonight, I just came in saying that I’m going to just focus and shoot it and I’m not going to get down on myself. Putting the work in definitely helped out. My shot felt so much better tonight.”
South Medford’s fourth straight win allowed it to pull a half-game ahead of South Eugene atop the SWC standings at 7-1 and improve to 13-5 overall. South Eugene plays at Willamette tonight to wrap up the first half of the conference schedule.
Cameron English added 14 points and three assists, Josh Washington pulled down 10 boards to go with six points and Kaleb Franklin came off the bench to add nine points for the Panthers, who led by 20 in the third quarter.
After suffering a serious concussion early in a loss to No. 9 North Medford on Jan. 20, South Medford junior Hunter Bradford returned to the court but was justifiably rusty in ending with three assists and two rebounds.
“It’s the old game of Monopoly now,” said South Medford head coach Dennis Murphy of starting the final leg of SWC play on Friday. “We’ll go back to wherever the start is and we’re going to try to get around it again. That’s what we’ll go back to tomorrow. It’s good to have everybody back, but we’ve got a lot of pieces to put together and get better.”
The first quarter was a case in point. The Panthers came out of the gate sluggish and were saved by Massey’s hot shooting, good work on the boards by Washington and a five-point surge by Franklin in a 14-5 second quarter run.
“We came out a little slow and came into it like it was going to be kind of an easy game,” said Massey. “We didn’t come out as aggressive as we need but then Murph got after us and we finally put it together as a team to get this one.”
Grants Pass (8-9, 4-4 SWC) had the tempo and execution factor on its side to finish the first quarter tied with the Panthers at 16-all — 11 of those points by JC McKinley — but that all went away in a heartbeat.
“That second quarter really got us into that hole we couldn’t dig out of,” said GP head coach Jeff Huston. “We got a little complacent offensively. The ball stuck with one guy too long for a few possessions, we couldn’t get into our offense and they just made plays. They shot the ball real well tonight — and rebounded as always — and it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole, especially playing here.”
McKinley finished with 14 points for the Cavemen but leading scorer Sean Ryan, who averages 11.5 points, was held scoreless. Grants Pass used a 12-2 run over the final three minutes to narrow the final gap.
“I’m surely not happy with the way we started the game but we responded well in the second and third quarters,” said Murphy. “We did what we needed to do and we’ve just got to move forward.”
GRANTS PASS (45) — McKinley 14, Appling 7, Weiss 5, Hanley 5, Stine 3, Wallace 3, Cotton 2, Musser 2, Evens 2, Hoy 2, Ryan 0, Reed 0. Totals: 17-34 5-11 45.
SOUTH MEDFORD (60) — Massey 18, English 14, Franklin 9, Washington 6, Carroll 5, Carter 3, Benford 3, Martin 2, Contreras 0, Bradford 0, Hall-Sutton 0, Metcalf 0. Totals: 22-46 7-9 60.
3-point goals — Grants Pass 6-16 (McKinley 2, Hanley 1, Stine 1, Weiss 1, Wallace 1), South Medford 9-15 (Massey 3, English 2, Carter 1, Franklin 1, Carroll 1, Benford 1).
JV score — South Medford 52, Grants Pass 48.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry