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South Medford standout Ritter out for season

For the second straight year, South Medford girls basketball standout Andee Ritter has had her season cut short by a knee injury.

The 6-foot senior for the top-ranked Panthers has a torn meniscus in her right knee that will require surgery, said Panthers coach Tom Cole.

Ritter is a starting guard who in November signed a Division I letter of intent to play for the University of California at Irvine.

South Medford (21-4) recently wrapped up its fifth straight undefeated league season and will host a first-round state playoff game Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.

Ritter’s latest injury surfaced Feb. 17 during a game at Roseburg. She played in the first half but experienced discomfort and sat out the second half, said Cole. Ritter saw her doctor on Saturday, had an MRI on Monday, then learned of the tear on a subsequent visit to the doctor on Thursday.

“She was really bummed out about it,” said Cole. “All of us are in a state of disbelief, really. From a coach’s perspective, I’m numb. This kid has just been an amazing young woman and an incredible player. To see the last two years of her high school basketball compromised the way they have been is sad.”

This injury is different, and far less serious, than the one she suffered to the same knee 13 months ago, when she had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and patellar ligaments.

Ritter worked strenuously to rehabilitate the knee over the past year. She began her final high school season working her way into playing shape while coming off the bench. She ascended to the starting unit after only a handful of games.

“Andee was playing a ton of minutes and in meaningful situations,” said Cole.

In particular, she had a strong game in the finals of the West Coast Jamboree in Livermore, Calif. She scored 16 points and made two steals in a 64-57 loss to Chaminade of West Hills, Calif. Chaminade is ranked No. 2 in the country by Max Preps.

“She got back to form as the season progressed,” said Cole, noting it showed especially in her defense. “She returned to being the defender that had made her one of the best defenders in the state. That’s what she was known for. Her defensive ability always was one of her best assets.”

As was her outside shooting.

Ritter hit on 46 percent of her 3-point attempts, making 47 of 103 in the 22 games she played. She was shooting 75 percent on free throws and averaged 9.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

In 11 Southwest Conference games, she averaged 12.4 points.

Ritter will be replaced in the starting lineup by Hannah Washington, a 5-11 sophomore.

“It does change who we are, absolutely,” said Cole.

Last year, South Medford lost in the state championship game for the second straight year. Cole said he’s proud of how the team finished but thinks it would have been a different outcome with a healthy Ritter.

Now, the Panthers face a similar challenge.

“We have to regroup and figure out how to stay together as a team and basically move forward,” said Cole.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email