Falls, Tago help Panthers advance
PORTLAND — What a difference a day makes.
Playing inspired basketball to not let a promising season slip away empty-handed, South Medford’s girls basketball team shook off an early Sheldon surge to win going away, 76-52, in the Class 6A state tournament consolation semifinals at the Chiles Center Thursday morning.
“Nobody slept well last night,” said South Medford head coach Tom Cole, referring to Wednesday’s shocking 50-48 loss to Canby. “The saddest part about it is you can’t change anything that happened yesterday. We had to send a message this morning that let’s don’t make this our last game. You all have proven yourselves to be a lot better than that and this is about pride and being who you should be.”
The Panther girls took that message to heart and found strength as they have all season in the senior leadership of Jasmin Falls and Julissa Tago, who were dynamic in denying fellow Southwest Conference member Sheldon for a third time this season.
Falls powered in a game-high 26 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field to go with eight rebounds, six blocked shots and two assists, while Tago contributed 15 points, 23 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
“I think we all just had to regroup because obviously that was a tough loss (to Canby), and it’s not where we wanted to be,” Falls said of the consolation game. “But we just said we can handle it one of two ways, and we just decided to go all out and play as hard as we could and hopefully come back with a win.”
With Thursday’s victory, second-seeded South Medford (25-4) advanced to play No. 8 seed McNary (22-6) in Saturday morning’s fourth-place game. The Celtics upset top-ranked Oregon City (22-6), 55-46, in the other consolation semifinal.
“For this tournament to have the No. 1 media poll team and No. 2 power ranking team to face some struggles early says a lot about how much parity there is in the state,” said Cole, referring to Oregon City's rankings. “Clearly McNary is going to be a tough task. They’re long, extremely athletic and physical. We’re going to have to play the kind of game we did today to have a better outcome.”
Sheldon (21-8) opened a 14-8 lead through the first 5½ minutes, which were uncharacteristically sloppy with six turnovers by South Medford, but then the Panthers began to exert their muscle inside with Falls and Tago. South Medford closed the quarter on a 12-2 run and never trailed again, opening a double-digit lead by halftime that was never really threatened thereafter.
Falls scored 10 straight points for the Panthers at one point covering the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third. Other than one putback, the baskets were the direct result of her teammates finding her in space on the block.
“My team is very good at finding the seams and seeing when I’m open and getting me the ball,” said Falls. “That was awesome, I really liked that.”
As pivotal as her play was in the paint, the same could be said on the defensive end for Tago, who had 22 defensive rebounds among her 23 boards, which were a 6A state tournament single-game record and tied the all-time large-classification record. Class 6A Franklin’s Kristen Swim had 22 rebounds in 2009 against Tualatin, while Benson’s Mfon Udoka (1994 versus Grants Pass) and Jefferson’s Lakesha Jones (1998 versus North Medford) each had 23 rebounds when 4A was the largest class.
“I just knew with Jasmin they were going to box her out and I just had to go in there and help her out,” said Tago. “I was just trying to do it for my teammates and come out really hard today.”
“It’s a record and that’s awesome,” she added, “but I’m just glad we got the win.”
Freshman Ula Chamberlin added 16 points and junior Jonnay Foote hustled her way to 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for South Medford. Junior Lauren Orndoff was saddled with three first-quarter fouls but still managed seven assists and two steals, while senior Jeryka Johnson picked up some slack in Orndoff’s absence despite a nagging foot injury to score four points in nine solid minutes.
Georgetown-bound senior Autumn Baumgartner scored 25 points to pace the Irish, who struggled from the field in shooting 20-for-73 (27 percent) overall and 3-for-24 (12.5 percent) from 3-point range.
Autumn Baumgartner 10-22 4-4 25, Hope Green-Brooks 5-14 1-1 11, Fallon Hanson 2-10 0-0 5, Sophie Morosky 2-10 0-0 5, Macie Reinen 1-9 2-2 4, Lauren Miller 0-2 2-2 2, Hailey Brancato 0-1 0-0 0, Emma Neuman 0-2 0-0 0, Aly Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Amber Winkler 0-0 0-0 0, Alyssa Barclay 0-2 0-0 0, Devin Bunch 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-73 9-9 52.
SOUTH MEDFORD (25-4)
Jasmin Falls 10-12 6-9 26, Ula Chamberlin 5-11 4-4 16, Juli Tago 4-8 7-10 15, Jonnay Foote 5-7 0-0 11, Jeryka Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Lauren Orndoff 2-6 0-0 4, Patrice Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Shyanne O'Brien-Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-47 17-23 76.
3-point goals — Sheldon 3-24 (Sophie Morosky 1-2, Fallon Hanson 1-7, Autumn Baumgartner 1-8, Lauren Miller 0-1, Hailey Brancato 0-1, Alyssa Barclay 0-2, Hope Green-Brooks 0-3), South Medford 3-6 (Ula Chamberlin 2-4, Jonnay Foote 1-2). Fouled out — Sheldon-Amber Winkler. Rebounds — Sheldon 31 (Sophie Morosky 8), South Medford 44 (Juli Tago 23). Assists — Sheldon 7 (Fallon Hanson 2, Hope Green-Brooks 2), South Medford 20 (Lauren Orndoff 7). Total fouls — Sheldon 17, South Medford 8.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry