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No. 1 South Medford falls to Roseburg in 6A quarterfinals

PORTLAND — Top-ranked South Medford entered the Class 6A girls basketball state tournament with a target on its back and Roseburg’s third effort of the season painfully hit the mark in a shocking turn of events Thursday.

South Medford had previously beaten the Southwest Conference rival Indians by 18 and 12 points during the regular season but none of that mattered at the Chiles Center as eighth-seeded Roseburg rallied for a 52-51 upset in the quarterfinals.

The loss proved especially bitter for the 23-5 Panthers, who finished as state runners-up the last two seasons after winning the title in 2012. It was South Medford’s first loss to an Oregon team this year, and first loss to a league opponent since falling 50-45 to North Medford on Feb. 17, 2010.

The Panthers still own a 50-game winning streak in conference play, but that’s of little solace for a team making its fifth straight tournament appearance and viewed as a title favorite.

“I think it’s the toughest loss we’ve had because of where we stood going into it,” said Panthers head coach Tom Cole. “We’ve had some disappointing finishes but I think the difference with this one is ... I have to sit in a place where I’m proud that we’re here and proud of what these kids have accomplished but I’m disappointed in how we played tonight. I think we’re a better basketball team than we played tonight.”

South Medford will look to extend its season at 9 a.m. today in the consolation semifinals against Jesuit, which lost 50-42 in overtime to second-ranked South Salem.

“We know the team we’re going to play (today) is good as well,” said South Medford junior Julissa Tago. “We just need to bounce back as a team and play hard and hopefully we’ll get into that fourth-place game (Saturday).”

Keyari Sleezer’s 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go pulled the Panthers within one point at 52-51. South Medford forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, but Jordan Stotler’s hustling effort to touch the ball before it went out of bounds on the opposite end meant South had only 4.1 seconds to travel the length of the court.

After a pair of timeouts, the Panthers got the ball again to Sleezer but her final heave from just inside halfcourt glanced off the front rim and allowed Roseburg to gain its first-ever state semifinals appearance and first tourney win since 1987.

“I think they just played a lot harder than we did,” said Tago. “They wanted it more than we did, you could tell from the beginning. They were going for every loose ball and they found ways to win.”

Roseburg (20-7) erased a 20-10 first-quarter deficit and limited its turnovers to 16 overall after committing eight in the opening frame. The Indians also notched 10 assists and limited South Medford to 19-for-55 shooting (35 percent) for the contest.

“That’s what you get playing a team three times in a year, so props to them,” said Tago. “They knew where our offense came from and where our defense came from so they attacked our weak points and they knew exactly how to play us.”

Sophomore Lauren Orndoff led the Panthers with 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting, while Sleezer battled through a second-quarter ankle injury to finish with 12 points and six rebounds on 4-for-17 shooting. Tago scored all nine of her points in the first half and finished 4-for-13 from the field with six rebounds.

“Our shots weren’t falling at all,” said Tago. “Keyari hit a couple ones (late) and some others but they weren’t falling at all, and we didn’t find other ways to score. We kept trying to do things that weren’t working, myself as well. Next time we just have to find different ways to score.”

Jasmin Falls added six points and nine rebounds for South, and Hannah Washington had six points and five rebounds before fouling out with two minutes to go and the score tied at 48-all.

Roseburg broke that tie with 66 seconds to go on a driving basket by Stotler and, after Orndoff missed on the opposite end, Ashley Backen was fouled and made both free throws for a 52-48 edge.

Backen finished with 14 points on 4-for-16 shooting, Meg Jackson added 12 points and Stotler had six points, seven rebounds, two blocks and several tipouts that led to Roseburg rebounds in crucial moments.

“We’ve known all along that when you’re a No. 1 seed, everybody’s bringing their best game,” said Cole. “I didn’t like the matchup going into this because I know how good of a team they are and I felt pretty fortunate that we were able to get two wins previously against them. To their credit, they made big buckets and they played with passion and, ultimately, it was the decisiveness to win the game.”

Roseburg answered South Medford’s solid start with a 17-10 run in the second quarter that left the Panthers up only 30-27 at the break. The Indians took their first lead after the opening possession on a 3-pointer by Backen with 3:30 to go in the third quarter but South closed the frame with five straight points to lead 39-38 entering the fourth quarter.

Even when Roseburg was clicking in the final quarter, South got a big steal and lay-up by Washington and a three-point play by Falls to seemingly right the ship heading into the final two minutes.

“I thought that we would be able to overcome,” said Cole. “We made a couple surges that gave us the confidence that we were going to be do that, and it just didn’t come out that way.”

ROSEBURG (20-7)

Ashley Backen 4-16 4-4 14, Meg Jackson 4-8 4-6 12, Baylee Wyscaver 4-5 1-1 9, Jordan Stotler 3-6 0-0 6, Jessie Farrington 2-5 0-0 5, Kylie Chong 2-2 0-0 4, Olyvia Fox 0-1 2-4 2, Taylor Stricklin 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 19-43 11-17 52.

SOUTH MEDFORD (23-5)

Lauren Orndoff 6-15 4-4 16, Keyari Sleezer 4-17 2-2 12, Julissa Tago 4-13 1-1 9, Jasmin Falls 1-5 4-5 6, Hannah Washington 3-4 0-4 6, Krystal Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Emily Lemons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-55 11-16 51.

Roseburg;10;17;11;14;—;52

South Medford;20;10;9;12;—;51

3-point goals--Roseburg 3-8 (Ashley Backen 2-7, Jessie Farrington 1-1), South Medford 2-13 (Keyari Sleezer 2-8, Julissa Tago 0-2, Lauren Orndoff 0-3). Fouled out--South Medford-Hannah Washington. Rebounds--Roseburg 29 (Jordan Stotler 7), South Medford 31 (Jasmin Falls 9). Assists--Roseburg 10 (Kylie Chong 3), South Medford 6 (Krystal Williams 2, Julissa Tago 2). Total fouls--Roseburg 15, South Medford 16.

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

South Medford's Jasmin Falls battles Meg Jackson (on floor) and Jordan Stolter for a loose ball. The top-ranked Panthers lost the state quarterfinal game, 52-51. PHOTO BY MICHAEL LLOYD
South Medford coach Tom Cole plots strategy in the state quarterfinals against Southwest Conference cohort Roseburg Friday in Portland. PHOTO BY MICHAEL LLOYD