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South posts playoff blowout

The South Medford girls got off to an explosive start against the taller, more physical Roosevelt Roughriders of Portland.

And that’s just what South Medford coach Tom Cole had in mind.

The Panthers opened the Class 6A first-round state basketball playoff game on a 17-2 run and never let Roosevelt get much closer in racing to a 68-39 victory Tuesday at South Medford High.

South Medford (17-9) advances to a second-round contest on Friday against OSAA seventh-seed Benson in Portland. Benson (20-5), the Portland Interscholastic League champion, defeated West Albany 83-37 in the opening round.

The Panthers lost to Benson 54-34 on Dec. 21.

“Most of our kids don’t know what a playoff game is,” said Cole about a starting lineup that has three freshmen. “Having a good start was important. We knew they were athletic and had speed and length.”

But it was two of Cole’s more experienced players — juniors Ula Chamberlin and Bella Pedrojetti — who provided the offensive impetus that got the Panthers rolling. Chamberlin and Pedrojetti both scored a team-best 20 points.

Ula Chamberlin floated in a soft jumper from the side for the first points of the game followed by a short jumper by freshman sister, Kaili. When Pedrojetti made it 6-0 on another open jumper with two minutes and 15 seconds gone in the quarter, Roosevelt coach Michael Bontemps called a time out.

“They were comfortable at home and we were uncomfortable in their house,” said Bontemps, a career basketball coach with previous stints at PIL schools Jefferson and Grant. “We got a couple of shots blocked early and that put us in a bad place.”

Bontemps, who coached Jefferson to a state championship, came out of retirement and got Roosevelt in the playoffs for the first time since 1994 in his initial year at the school.

“We did not get back on defense,” said Bontemps. “Our defensive balance was very poor.”

The first quarter saw both teams combine for 11 turnovers but the Panthers were able to capitalize with fast-break points while the Roughriders could not find the mark inside.

“They got some good looks early,” said Cole. “If you miss easy ones, it can make for a difficult night.”

And that it was for the Roughriders (16-9), the third-place team from the PIL.

Roosevelt kept pushing the pace against the Panthers but were out of control a lot on offense and didn’t get back to defend. The first quarter was fast paced but South kept extending the lead while the Roughriders floundered.

“South Medford is very fundamental and they were being competitors,” said Bontemps.

South Medford led 21-4 after one quarter and used 3-pointers by freshman Laini Dahlin, Kaili Chamberlin and Pedrojetti late in the second to build a 42-16 halftime lead.

Kaili Chamberlin, a 5-foot-9 forward, had all 13 of her points in the first half and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.

Ula Chamberlin took it upon herself to get the Panthers off to a good start in the third quarter. The 5-9 guard posted up inside and scored on South’s opening possession. Then she completed a fast break and converted on a nifty pivot up-and-under move as South went on a 10-4 spurt to begin the period.

“We wanted to move the ball and get fast-break points,” said the junior, South’s leading scorer at 14.5 points a game and the 2018 Southwest Conference co-player of the year. “My outside shooting wasn’t hitting so I had to do something else like dribbling and driving to the rack.”

Ula Chamberlin finished with 10 points in the third quarter as the Panthers stretched their advantage to 32 points going into the final frame.

“She feels like she has a responsibility being at the center of what we’re doing,” said Cole, who has guided the Panthers to a 23-12 playoff record and had made the post-season in 10 of his 11 years as coach. “She had some mismatch opportunities in the post and was able to recognize that. She has great footwork and good control of her body.”

Freshman Shakia Perry scored five points but more important came up with eight rebounds for the Panthers.

“We have athleticism and played with passion,” said Perry. “We took advantage of our opportunities and picked each other up when someone made a mistake.”

Cole had praise for the way Perry battled the bigger Roughriders underneath: “Shakia had a presence on the boards. She shined.

“We were concerned that they’d get a lot of second and third shots,” said Cole. “We had a height disadvantage for sure.”

The Panthers ended up outrebounding Roosevelt, 38-30. Also South shot 52 percent (26-50) from the field.

“We knew if we could keep up the tempo, we could get separation,” said Cole. “The key for the game was our strong defensive pressure and rebounding.”

ROOSEVELT (39): Wright 4, Evans 0, Rutley 4, Menefee 4, Morris 10, Molina 0 Greene 7, Nordstrom 8, Greely 2, Carpenter 0, Sjobeck 0, Singleton 0, Montfort 0. Totals: 12 12-18 39.

SOUTH MEDFORD (68): K. Chamberlin 13, Coleman 3, U. Chamberlin 20, Schmerbach 4, Pedrojetti 20, Fish 0, Dahlin 3, Perry 5, Laupola 0. Totals: 26-50 12-14 68.

Roosevelt;4;12;14;9;—;39

South Medford;21;21;20;6;—;68

3-point goals — Roosevelt 3 (Morris 1, Greene 1, Nordstrom 1), South Medford 4 (Pedrojetti 2, K. Chamberlin 1, Dahlin 1).