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Panthers pound short-handed Tornado

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Even a healthy North Medford team would have had a hard time hanging with the fully loaded, uber talented, No. 5-ranked South Medford Panthers.

So the injury-depleted version of the Black Tornado that limped into Tuesday’s Southwest Conference girls basketball game without its leading scorer and four rotation players overall didn’t stand much of a chance.

South Medford had no mercy for its crosstown rivals, jumping out to leads of 22-7 after one quarter and 36-16 at the half on its way to a 76-30 blowout win, sending the Panthers into Friday’s clash with No. 8 Sheldon riding an 11-game winning streak.

To see how South Medford was able to take its advantage, click below:

All the real drama having been sucked out by South’s onslaught, the only question in the late going was whether the Panthers would eclipse their largest-ever victory over North of 47 points, set in 2015. They didn’t, but only after missing a jump shot in the final minute that would have set a new standard of dominance in the series.

Instead, the hosts settled for another lopsided league victory led by the league’s leading scorer, Ula Chamberlin, who scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half while also contributing four assists, three steals and a handful of highlights — a behind-the-back assist to Toni Coleman drew the biggest cheer of the night.

“I thought we had balanced scoring again tonight, which was important,” South Medford head coach Tom Cole said. “When kids fill the stat sheets in various ways, when you get four or five, six kids who are producing ... it’s really for us about getting better. Are we better in this game than we were the last game?”

Were they?

“I think in some ways we were, and then the reality is in some ways we were not. And we have to shore some things up because we have a tough contest on Friday against a team that is very formidable.”

Sheldon (15-4), which has won four straight, and South Medford (17-2) are tied atop the SWC with 4-0 marks. Sheldon walloped South 59-49 in the last meeting last season, but the Panthers have improved considerably in the 12 months since thanks in part to that supporting cast touted by Cole.

Stars Chamberlin and Bella Pedrojetti (15 points, five rebounds) filled the stat sheet as usual Tuesday, but South also received big contributions from Coleman (14 points, six rebounds, four assists), Shakia Teague-Perry (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Kaili Chamberlin (11 points).

The Panthers got right to business in this one, using a 12-3 run which included a pair of 3s by Ula Chamberlin to jump ahead 16-5 only four minutes into the game.

Ula Chamberlin’s full-court touchdown pass to Pedrojetti made it 24-7 early in the second, and three minutes later Chamberlin’s gorgeous scoop layup in traffic kicked off a 12-2 surge that gave South a 36-12 lead with 1:24 left in the first half.

The Panthers’ pressure defense left little room for error for the Black Tornado (7-10, 0-4 SWC), which played without the league’s second-leading scorer, Talia Baker, as well as Ana Baker, Karissa Seney and Paisley Fish. All were out due to injury.

North showed its resiliency by fighting from horn to horn, no matter the score — Hannah Drysdale pumped in 11 points, Savannah Weaver eight and Jane Ersepke six. But against a South squad that seemingly turned every missed jumper or turnover into a fastbreak opportunity, the walls closed in fast.

“Obviously, we could have played better, but South had a lot to do with that — they’re a really talented team, of course,” North Medford head coach Aaron Rayburn said. “We’re young and handling the ball’s important, and handling their pressure. We had a lot of turnovers tonight which leads to fastbreaks on their end and easy baskets and doesn’t allow us to set up our defense. We wanted to control the pace if possible and kind of slow the game down, and (South) didn’t allow us to do that.”

Now, the Panthers head to Eugene for their biggest game yet against a team that will have a size advantage and much more varsity experience. South, on the other hand, has three of the league’s top 10 scorers.

Cole likes where his team is offensively. Not so much defensively, however.

“When we’re in a good offensive rhythm, we play a better brand of basketball, but I also know that we have to do some things defensively to get better because if that shot’s not falling, that game can change,” Cole said. “If you’re not in a rhythm shooting you have to be able to defend at the other end ... We made some strides to be more consistent offensively, but I’m not so sure that we’ve been consistent enough defensively to beat the really good teams.

“Friday will be a good barometer of that.”

NORTH MEDFORD (30): Pyka 0, Ersepke 6, Wells 2, Weaver 8, Kay. Seney 0, Christiansen 0, Thurman 3, Drysdale 11. Totals: 11 5-10 30.

SOUTH MEDFORD (76): K. Chamberlin 11, Coleman 14, U. Chamberlin 18, Dillard 0, Schmerbach 0, Pedrojetti 15, Coley 0, Dahlin 3, Teague-Perry 15. Totals: 34 2-9 76

North Medford79410— 30

South Medford22142416— 76

3-point goals — North Medford 3 (Ersepke 1, Weaver 2), South Medford 6 (K. Chamberlin 1, U. Chamberlin 2, Pedrojetti 2, Dahlin 1).

JV result — South Medford won.

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-776-4469 or jzavala@rosebudmedia.com.

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South's Ula Chamberlin, (2), shoots between North defenders Kayla Seney, left, and Chloee Thurman. Photo by Denise Baratta
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