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Forest Grove beats South for fourth in Abby's tourney

When Sherman Hunter got hot from the outside, it put South Medford in position to win the fourth-place game in the 28th annual Abby’s Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament.

But an experienced, poised Forest Grove squad weathered the storm en route to a 62-56 victory over the Panthers at the North Medford High gym Friday.

Forest Grove (7-4) came out on fire against South Medford, hitting three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, and forced South Medford second-year coach James Wightman to use an early timeout.

“We started in a zone and they jumped on us,” said Wightman. “They’re too good of shooters.”

The Vikings’ full-court man pressure didn’t force a slew of turnovers but bothered the Panthers enough to keep them struggling on offense.

When Forest Grove senior point guard Kyle Thompson made a 3-pointer in transition off a South turnover, the Vikings built their biggest lead, 30-18, with five minutes left in the second quarter.

Then the slender, 5-foot-6 Hunter made a nifty baseline move to sink a floater over junior post Ayden Purcell and was fouled. Hunter completed a three-point play that began an 8-0 run that cut the South Medford deficit to four with 3:30 left in the half.

The Panthers trailed 34-27 at halftime, but South kept itself in the game by slowing down the Vikings’ attack.

“We had to get stops and not let them keep scoring,” said Wightman. “When we started making shots, it was a different story.”

And that’s just what happened in the third quarter.

South Medford, which was 0-for-11 from 3-point range the day before against Eagle Point, used the long-range shots to reel in the Vikings.

The Panthers opened the second half on a 7-0 burst with the help of 3-pointers from junior post Thomas Fealey and junior Trent DeBoer to tie the score at 34-all.

Then Hunter found the range to connect on back-to-back treys with a high-arching shot that gave South its only lead, 42-41, with 1:15 remaining in the third.

“I was feeling it and it gave me confidence,” said the sophomore Hunter, who finished with 16 points to pace the Panthers. “I just let the flow come to me and played my game.”

Hunter had a season-best 24 points in a 20-point win against Eagle Point in the Panthers’ second game of the season.

“When (Hunter) is in a rhythm and on balance with his feet underneath, he can be accurate,” said Wightman. “He’s still a pup. Everything is still so fast for him.”

Adison Emerick answered with his second 3-pointer of the game to put the Vikings back in the lead, 44-42, with one minute to go in the period. Hunter responded with a drive to the basket and was fouled — making two free throws to pull the Panthers even at 44-all going into the final quarter.

“That third quarter was the best we played all year,” said Wightman. “We cranked it up and played at a different level. Once you start to make shots, it helps you on the defensive side, too.”

Thompson broke a tie at 46 with a 3-pointer and the Greater Valley Conference team never trailed again.

“Our strategy was to play fast and chaotic,” said Thompson, a four-year starter, who made the all-tourney team. “We knew South had some young ballhandlers and was hoping to turn them over. We wanted to push the ball in transition and control the pace of the game.”

But Forest Grove couldn’t shake the determined Panthers. Payton Owens and Robbie Patterson both made 1 of 2 free throws and South trailed 56-54 with 1:53 to go. Then Thompson found Purcell rolling to the basket for a layup to put the Vikings up by four before Jesse Higgins cut the margin to 58-56 on two free throws.

Forest Grove wisely used clock and Higgins was forced to foul Purcell, who made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 44 seconds left. After Hunter was turned over in the front court, senior wing Drake Littlefield swished two free throws for the final margin of victory.

Littlefield led a balanced Forest Grove offense with 16 points and Thompson finished with 11.

The Vikings forced the Panthers into 16 turnovers.

Higgins, South’s 6-9 senior post, added 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.

“What happened once we broke their press, they collapsed in the middle and let us open on the outside,” said Wightman. “Jesse had a lot of guys around him. He protected the rim and did a lot of things for us.”

The Panthers helped their cause with 6 of 11 shooting on 3-pointers.

“(South) did a good job getting back to the basket and prevented Kyle (Thompson) from getting to the rim,” said Forest Grove coach Greg Evers. “With a 6-9 kid hanging back, it makes it tough."

SOUTH MEDFORD (56): Hunter 16, DeBoer 3, Patterson 4, Owens 4, T. Boster 0, Losinski 7, Fealey 3, English 0, Randleman 5, Higgins 12. Totals: 18 14-19 56.

FOREST GROVE (62): Smith 2, Duve 4, Richards 8, Riley 5, Purcell 6, Thompson 11, D. Littlefield 16, Emerick 8. Totals: 20 15-17 62.

South Medford;11;21;16;17;—;56

Forest Grove;21;13;10;18;—;62

3-point goals — South Medford 6 (Hunter 3, Owens 1, DeBoer 1, Fealey 1), Forest Grove 7 (Thompson 3, D. Littlefield 2, Emerick 2. Technical foul — Purcell.

ROSEBURG 59, RED BLUFF 56: Roseburg junior Collin Warmouth scored 18 points and senior Cody Johnson added 17 points as the Indians used a key surge in the second and third quarters to rally past Red Bluff in the third-place game at North Medford High.

Warmouth was named to the all-tournament team.

Red Bluff (7-8) knocked down five of its 11 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a 21-12 advantage, but the Spartans were outscored 35-14 in the second and third quarters. Roseburg (8-3) knocked down 8 of 10 free throws in the fourth to seal the victory.

Red Bluff's Brayden Hutchens had 25 points and Derek Gorden 17, with each knocking down five 3-pointers.

ROSEBURG (59): Crince 2, Johnson 17, Seely 0, Warmouth 18, Lake 4, Medak 6, Stone 10, Ellis 2, Black 0. Totals: 22 14-19 59.

RED BLUFF (56): Hebert 6, Bey 0, Hutchens 25, Sarmanto 0, Harris 0, Barrow 7, Gorden 17, Wood 1. Totals: 20 5-9 56.

Roseburg;12;16;19;12;—;59

Red Bluff;21;6;8;21;—;56

3-point goals — Roseburg 1 (Johnson 1), Red Bluff 11 (Hutchens 5, Gorden 5, Barrow 1).

LA SALLE 78, EAGLE POINT 61: Zakk Scott had a strong all-around game for Eagle Point but couldn’t match the performance of the tournament by La Salle junior guard Jace Norton, who sank 10 3-pointers and finished with 39 points as the Milwaukie school placed seventh.

Scott had 24 points, seven rebounds and five steals for the Eagles (1-9), who went winless in three tournament games.

Norton poured in six treys during a 27-point second quarter.

LASALLE (78): Kersey-Bronec 3, Norton 39, Pisaneschi 0, Gabrish 3, N. Boyd 4, Massaad 2, A. Boyd 4, Bosco 11, North 9, Grogan 3. Totals: 28 8-15 78.

EAGLE POINT (61): Adams 10, Z. Scott 24, Judd 5, L. Scott 3, Neyt 10, Schaffer 0, Hoppes Jr. 2, Chaparro 1, Masloski 0, Vance 2, Gelbrich 4. Totals: 20 18-25 61.

LaSalle;19;27;14;18;—;78

Eagle Point;10;23;9;19;—;61

3-point goals — LaSalle 14 (Norton 10, Kersey-Bronec 1, Gabrish 1, North 1, A. Boyd 1), Eagle Point 3 (Z. Scott 3).

— Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or fsilow@mailtribune.com