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Panthers’ season ends with loss to St. Mary’s

A season that evolved into one of promise for the South Medford girls basketball team came to an unceremonious end in the quiet of the consolation bracket breakfast round at the Class 6A state tournament Friday.

St. Mary’s Academy (13-12) of Portland, the 25th seed, took advantage of a thin Panthers lineup that grew evermore depleted in the second half, and posted a 65-55 victory at the Chiles Center in Portland.

Fifth-seeded South Medford (21-6), which had extended its conference winning streak to 90 and was playing its best basketball as the tournament loomed, lost two straight at state and failed to earn a top-six place and a trophy.

“This was a very hard week here,” said Panthers coach Tom Cole. “Like we said in the locker room, we have to learn from it. We have to lift our heads up. I’m proud of the kids. They were part of a tremendous thing this year, they belong here and they competed with what they had. I thought they represented our school and community the best they could.”

The Panthers’ played the tournament without senior point guard Jonnay Foote, suspended Monday for a code-of-conduct violation.

That left seven available players on the roster; an additional junior varsity player was pressed into action Friday when three South Medford starters — Hannah Washington, Ula Chamberlin and Shyanne O’Brien-Long — got their fourth fouls within 32 seconds of each other in the third quarter.

To add to the challenge, the game started at 9 a.m., or about 16 hours after four Panther starters played all 32 minutes in a quarterfinal loss to Grant.

“We ended up having to go into our bench pretty deep,” said Cole. “It was triage, really, trying to figure out what we could do with the pieces we had, knowing we were already short-handed and very compromised by what we were able to do to get some stops and be able to score.”

The game was close into the third quarter. South Medford led 5-1 at the outset, and that was the biggest lead until St. Mary’s went up 25-20 3:43 before halftime.

The Panthers trailed 33-32 at intermission, and 41-40 with 3:15 left in the third.

Then came the wave of fouls.

From 3:04 to 2:32, Washington, Chamberlin and O’Brien-Long exited.

By the end of the period, the Blues had their largest lead, 50-44, and they hit a 3 to start the fourth-quarter scoring. South Medford players were shuttled in and out during the final period, when Washington fouled out. 

“You’re playing a chess match without your key pieces,” said Cole.

St. Mary’s exposed the Panthers’ vulnerable areas.

Particularly Indiana-bound Bendu Yeaney, who had 21 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

“That group that came in really played hard and did some good things,” said Cole, “but we lost some ground in that third quarter.”

The closest South Medford got in the fourth was 56-50 with 4:59 left.

Yeaney was a handful, said Cole.

“She’s by far the best athlete, as far as girls basketball, in the state,” he said, noting her prowess at getting to the boards, splitting the defense and creating her own shot. “It was hard.”

Chamberlin scored 20 points to lead the Panthers, and Washington had 13 points and nine rebounds. Lauren Orndoff tallied 11 points and three steals.

“The circumstances are what they are,” said Cole. “We knew Monday we would be without a very critical piece. The kids worked as hard as they could. It wasn’t a lack of effort. The reality was, we weren’t ourselves.”

This was Cole’s seventh straight trip to the tournament. South Medford won it in 2012 and was runner-up the next two years.

“What I do know is, it takes a lot to line up and win it,” he said, “and it doesn’t take very much to get out of line and lose it.”

ST. MARY'S ACADEMY (13-12)

Bendu Yeaney 9-20 3-3 21, Mya Brazile 5-6 0-0 10, Anna Eddy 2-4 2-2 8, Jade Newton 2-7 3-7 8, Grace Fallon 2-3 2-2 6, Marley Johnson 1-8 3-4 6, Sally Luciano 1-1 0-0 3, Robyn Norman 1-3 1-2 3, Chella Davidson 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 23-54 14-22 65.

SOUTH MEDFORD (21-6)

Ula Chamberlin 7-20 3-4 20, Hannah Washington 4-8 5-7 13, Lauren Orndoff 3-14 5-6 11, Bella Pedrogetti 2-6 2-2 6, Shyanne O'Brien-Long 0-3 3-4 3, Cassie Fleming 1-1 0-0 2, McKerra Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Lily Martin 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 17-53 18-25 55.

St. Mary's Academy;14;19;17;15;—;65

South Medford;13;19;12;11;—;55

3-point goals — St. Mary's Academy 5-14 (Anna Eddy 2-3, Jade Newton 1-3, Sally Luciano 1-1, Marley Johnson 1-5, Bendu Yeaney 0-2), South Medford 3-12 (Ula Chamberlin 3-7, Lauren Orndoff 0-2, Bella Pedrogetti 0-3). Fouled out — South Medford-Hannah Washington. Rebounds — St. Mary's Academy 45 (Bendu Yeaney 18), South Medford 31 (Hannah Washington 9). Assists — St. Mary's Academy 11 (Bendu Yeaney 5), South Medford 7 (Hannah Washington 3). Total fouls — St. Mary's Academy 19, South Medford 17.

Cole