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South slams Wolverines

When your team has almost as many dunks as field goals allowed, there’s a good chance you’re going to win … by a lot.

That’s exactly the scenario that played out Friday at South Medford High, with the host Panthers throwing down six dunks and allowing only eight field goals by Willamette in a runaway 81-23 boys basketball victory.

Sophomore point guard Kaleb Franklin had a career-high 17 points to go with four assists for South Medford, ranked No. 2 in the latest Class 6A media poll, and seniors Eskari Carter (13 points, six assist) and Josh Washington (11 points, 10 rebounds) provided the airshow highlights with two and three dunks, respectively. Senior Conor Carroll also had a putback dunk in the Southwest Conference affair.

“They’re a good team, they’re No. 2 in the state for a reason,” said Willamette head coach Chad Carpenter.

“I thought our kids played pretty good defense in the halfcourt but we got beat in transition,” he added. “If you give up layups like that, it’s tough to win basketball games. South Medford did a great job, they’re well-coached with good athletes and they got out and ran and got a lot of easy buckets.”

Any thought of a letdown performance for South Medford (13-1, 3-0 SWC), which plays at North Medford on Tuesday, went by the wayside midway through the first quarter when the Panthers put the game away with a 19-0 run to close the frame. Seven players scored during that stretch, with Franklin adding an exclamation mark with a quarter-ending 3-pointer that momentarily knocked the power off in the scoreboard.

“I just think the harder you play, the more relaxed you play and then more and more good things happen,” said South Medford head coach Dennis Murphy, whose team led 24-3 through one quarter and 33-7 at halftime. “We tell our kids all the time you have to play at your best level every day in practice because it’s a game of habits. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, if you set the habit of playing hard and playing smart and play tough, you do that.”

South Medford limited Willamette (4-9, 0-3) to one field goal in each of the first, second and fourth quarters, and the Wolverines shot 8-for-53 overall (15 percent) and 1-for-21 from 3-point range (5 percent).

“We adjusted a lot of our shots and let their length bother us,” said Carpenter. “The kids have to do a better job of just shooting their shots. If it gets blocked, you don’t have to worry about it.”

Ratcheting up the defensive pressure is something the Panthers had been working on leading up to the Willamette game, and the end results were positive as senior Raymond Benford and junior Riley Martin had three steals apiece to lead the way.

“I felt like we needed to get better defensively and correct some mistakes we were making,” said Murphy, “and I thought the kids did a good job of that and that consequently resulted in more pressure. If you do that and get out in transition, it’s an easier opportunity to score.”

Chase Cota used increased playing time off the bench to score nine points while Anthony Bock scored a career-high eight points and the Panthers got six points apiece from Martin and Dakota Metcalf.

Overall, South Medford got 34 points from its reserves and scored 24 points in three of the four quarters by shooting 31-for-61 (51 percent).

Chris Steiner scored five of his seven points in the third quarter to pace Willamette, which saw leading scorer Noah Burke held scoreless.

WILLAMETTE (23): Steiner 7, Stricker 5, Skeele 3, Reichenberger 3, L. Burke 2, Trim 2, Pickering 1, Cantu 0, Kim 0, N. Burke 0, Penn 0, Cooley 0, Cross 0. Totals: 8-53 6-10 23.

SOUTH MEDFORD (81): Franklin 17, Carter 13, Washington 11, Cota 9, Bock 8, Martin 6, Metcalf 6, Bradford 5, Carroll 4, Benford 2. Totals: 31-61 13-16 81.

Willamette;3;4;12;4;—;23

South Medford;24;9;24;24;—;81

3-point goals — Willamette 1-21 (Skeele 1), South Medford 6-17 (Franklin 2, Metcalf 2, Carter 1, Bradford 1).

JV score — South Medford 49, Willamette 48.

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

South Medford sophomore Kaleb Franklin drives to the basket and shoots over Willamette's Adam Stricker in the third quarter of the Panthers' 81-23 home victory. Franklin paced South with a career-high 17 points. PHOTO BY ANDY ATKINSON
Josh Washington, of South Medford, goes high for a shot against Willamette's Chris Steiner (32) in the Panthers' Southwest Conference win Friday. PHOTO BY ANDY ATKINSON