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South seals SWC title with win over North

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The storyline was different but the outcome remained the same Friday night in another top-10 boys basketball clash between South Medford and host North Medford.

The sixth-ranked Panthers and 10th-ranked Black Tornado waged a tension-filled battle in front of an energetic crowd befitting the history of the crosstown rivalry, with South Medford staving off a North Medford comeback bid for a 50-44 victory.

With the win, which was a far cry from the Panthers’ 67-39 romp three weeks ago, South Medford (20-2, 9-0 SWC) wrapped up the Southwest Conference title with only today’s home game against Sheldon remaining in the regular season.

North Medford, which saw Trey Neff score 22 points, fell to 19-3 overall and 7-2 in SWC play entering today’s game at Roseburg.

“We showed character and we showed heart and it was just a great crowd atmosphere,” said South Medford head coach James Wightman. “We easily could’ve folded, but we started locking down on the defensive end and made the shots we needed to make.”

“To come over here and win — and we’re not going to win by almost 30 over here, I guarantee that — is pretty special,” added Wightman, whose team has now won three straight over North and four of the last five matchups. “Those guys are pretty good and they’re well-coached, I’m just proud of the boys.”

Freshman guard Boden Howell paved the way for the Panthers with 19 points, and Devon Malcolm’s emphatic windmill dunk in the waning seconds capped a night where the senior totaled 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

“I’m just in such a good mood right now,” said Howell, who was also his team’s leading scorer with 17 points in the last game against North. “That was a tough one, for sure. I don’t even know what to say.”

“That was huge,” he added. “Hopefully that gets us to a pretty high spot in the state (power rankings). We’re hoping to get two home playoff games, and this should help us.”

Four straight points by North Medford from the free-throw line — three by Neff and one by Antonio Orozco — had trimmed South’s lead to 44-43 with one minute to play before Howell was fouled and sent to the charity stripe. The 6-foot-3 standout had previously missed on the front end of a 1-and-1 only 27 seconds earlier, but despite deafening pleas from the home faithful to rattle his nerves, Howell coolly knocked down both shots.

“I missed the front end of the first one but came back for the next two,” said Howell. “The student section cheering got me going and I was able to knock them down.”

Malcolm followed with a close-range attempt by Austin McLean, but South was not out of the woods as another missed free throw was countered by a 1-for-2 effort by Orozco with 40 seconds remaining. Jackson Weiland rebounded the errant second shot and, after squeezing through a trap, fired a long outlet to Howell for a transition layup to make it 48-44.

Senior twins Ty Neff and Trey Neff each attempted 3-pointers to close the gap for North, but neither went in and, on the last rebound, Malcolm was able to break free for his second highlight reel dunk of the game.

“Anytime it comes down to the end of games,” said North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn, “it’s who can make the bucket at the end of the time and we just didn’t get those. When we finally got it to where it was going to make a difference, we didn’t get the baskets.”

“It was a great effort by our boys, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he added. “To play that team, and that is as good as it gets, down to the wire like that and come up short, it’s difficult. But I’m proud of them.”

Bryce Dyer contributed seven points, seven rebounds and four assists for North, which also got seven points from Orozco.

Junior Sleezer had nine points and Desmond Clayborne added seven for South, which led 27-21 at halftime and 39-33 entering the final quarter.

SOUTH MEDFORD (50): Weiland 4, Hall 0, Sleezer 9, Howell 19, Bloodsaw 0, Clayborne 7, Malcolm 11. Totals: 19-39 6-11 50.

NORTH MEDFORD (44): McLean 0, Ty. Neff 3, Tr. Neff 22, Plankenhorn 0, Miller 5, Orozco 7, Dyer 7, Goodrich 0, Dominguez 0. Totals: 14-38 12-18 44.

South Medford12151211— 50

North Medford1471211— 44

3-point goals — South Medford 6 (Howell 3, Sleezer 1, Clayborne 1, Malcolm 1), North Medford 4 (Tr. Neff 2, Ty. Neff 1, Orozco 1). Technical foul — Malcolm, Sleezer.

JV score — South Medford 54, North Medford 47

Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Devon Malcolm goes up for a dunk in the final seconds of Friday night’s game against North Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Junior Sleezer gets fouled while talking a shot in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against South Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Boden Howell drives to the basket during the first quarter of Friday night’s game against North Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Devon Malcolm blocks the shot of North Medford's Austin McLean during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Jackson Weiland, left, and North Medford's O'shea Miller fight for the ball during the second quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Jackson Weiland gets the ball away from North Medford's Trey Neff during the third quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Junior Sleezer drives to the basket during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against North Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Junior Sleezer and North Medford's Bryce Dyer fight for a loose ball during the first quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Treyson Neff shoots a 3-pointer during the first quarter of Friday night’s game against South Medford.
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
South Medford at North Medford for final regular season boys basketball game.Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune