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Roaring start

It wasn’t always pretty, but South Medford head coach Tom Cole and his Panthers girls basketball team will gladly take their season-opening win on Friday night.

Junior Lauren Orndoff recorded 22 points and three steals before fouling out and senior Julissa Tago had 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals as the fourth-ranked Panthers topped seventh-ranked Clackamas, 70-62, at South Medford High.

South led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter before the Cavaliers fought back into the game during the final eight minutes.

Clackamas was 12 of 18 from the free-throw line and knocked down four 3-pointers in the final frame, but the Panthers did enough to hang onto their advantage and seal the triumph.

“I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss any game,” Cole said.

South senior Jasmin Falls had 10 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out early in the fourth, while freshman Ula Chamberlain chipped in 13 points and Hannah Washington four points and 10 rebounds.

Chamberlain, a 5-foot-8 guard, is the first ninth-grader to open as a starter at South since Yaremi Mejia in 2009. Mejia now plays at Portland State.

Orndoff fouled out later in the fourth on Friday.

“Losing (Falls and Orndoff) swung the momentum,” Cole said.

The Panthers led 35-26 at halftime and entered the fourth ahead by 17 after holding the Cavaliers to a six-point third quarter.

South was strong on the glass from start to finish, Cole said, and the defensive boards against Clackamas’ tall squad in particular helped his team’s cause immensely.

“I thought we did a good job of really pounding the glass on the defensive end,” Cole said. “We focused on that because they have two 6-foot-2 kids plus guards who are 6-foot and long. We tried to control the opportunities for second shots and ended up with 25 defensive rebounds, and that helped to keep the game manageable.”

The Northern Arizona-bound Peyton Carroll had 20 points and Alyson Miura recorded 17 points with four 3-pointers for Clackamas, which knocked down nine total triples.

“I think Clackamas will be there at the end of the season,” Cole said.

South was 22 of 29 from the charity stripe on the night, with all seven misses coming in the fourth (when the Panthers were 7-for-14).

Clackamas will play Enterprise High of Redding, Calif., at 1 p.m. today at South Medford. The Panthers planned on hosting a two-day, four-team invitational, but a scheduling error with Lynnwood, Wash., prevented that.

Because of that, South will next participate in the Hawaii Invitational in Honolulu, opening with Punahou High on Dec. 10. That tournament also features Konawaena High, which last year finished in the Top 25 in MaxPreps and USA Today polls.

The Panthers won’t play at home again until Jan. 5, when they host Sheldon in their Southwest Conference opener.

South went 23-6 overall last season and 14-0 in league action. The Panthers fell to Roseburg in the Class 6A state quarterfinals and then lost to Jesuit in the consolations.

CLACKAMAS (62): Morris 11, Oakden 4, Hayes 2, Phiakhamngon 2, Miura 17, Bankofier 2, James 2, Carroll 20, Dahmen 2, Huynh 0. Totals: 18 17-28 62.

SOUTH MEDFORD (70): Chamberlin 13, O'Brien-Long 2, Johnson 0, Orndoff 22, Foote 0, Falls 10, Tago 19, Washington 4. Totals: 23 22-29 70.

Clackamas;15;11;6;30;—;62

South Medford;20;15;14;21;—;70

3-point goals — Clackamas 9 (Morris 3, Miura 4, Carroll 2), South Medford 2 (Chamberlin 1, Tago 1). Fouled out — Orndoff, Falls.

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

Julissa Tago, a senior for South Medford, shoots against Clackamas defender Bri Phikhamngon Friday at South Medford High. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
South Medford junior Lauren Orndoff shoots a layup past Clackamas defenders in the nonconference season-opener Friday at South Medford High. Orndoff led the Panthers with 22 points in a 70-62 victory. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.