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South surges past Sheldon for state bid

South Medford put it in cruise control a little early but responded to a third-quarter challenge by Sheldon to win going away Saturday in the second round of the Class 6A girls basketball state playoffs, 52-31.

The third-seeded Panthers (23-3) built a 19-4 advantage through one quarter against their Southwest Conference rivals and, after the Irish closed the gap to 25-20 early in the third, showed their mettle to secure a bid to this week’s state tournament.

“It was not our best performance but it was good enough to get us to the next level,” said South Medford coach Tom Cole, whose Panthers won the Class 6A/5A culminating week title last spring.

South Medford will open the state tournament at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against sixth-seeded Benson in the quarterfinals at the Chiles Center in Portland. Benson beat Jefferson, 64-62, on Saturday.

Senior guard Lottie Dillard had 14 points and five rebounds and junior Donovyn Hunter chipped in with 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals to help advance the Panthers.

Senior Sierra Logue contributed 11 rebounds, six points and three blocks, junior Tatum Schmerbach had seven points and freshman Sara Schmerbach came off the bench to provide five rebounds and three steals.

The Panthers were dynamite from the start, getting consecutive 3-pointers by Dillard and Tatum Schmerbach to set the tone.

Things cooled considerably in the second quarter as Sheldon methodically chipped away at its double-digit deficit.

Despite playing without one of their top players in freshman Diamond Wright, who was ejected following a skirmish in Wednesday’s opening-round win over Tualatin and was serving a one-game suspension, the Irish did not buckle.

“Sheldon did a really good job tonight of being very patient and playing within themselves,” Cole said. “It was a relatively low-scoring game but I thought they were very disciplined tonight considering they were down one of their best players.”

Thanks to some momentum-building 3-pointers by junior Beaux Bruegman, Sheldon trailed only 23-14 at halftime and a quick surge out of the break had the score at 25-20 with plenty of time remaining to pull an upset.

That’s when South Medford kicked back into high gear, getting a free throw by Dillard and a basket by Tatum Schmerbach off a Dillard assist to extend the lead while also dialing up the defensive intensity.

It was 28-22 when South Medford went on a 12-0 run to close out the third quarter and regain full command.

“I think there was a real gut check there in the third quarter and a sense of urgency kicked in and we started feeding off a couple steals and getting out in transition,” Cole said. “And then Donovyn hit a big 3 right in front of our bench and it felt like the momentum shifted and we didn’t look back.”

Paityn Rhode had 12 points, Kinley Pappas scored nine and Bruegman finished with eight to lead Sheldon (16-10), which dropped all three matchups against South Medford this season.

SHELDON (31): Line 2, Rhode 12, Miller 0, Lehi 0, Houlihan 0, Pappas 9, Sprouse 0, I. Harms 0, Marshall 0, Bruegman 8, Kearney 2. Totals: 13-41 31.

SOUTH MEDFORD (52): Settle 2, Hunter 13, Dillard 14, S. Schmerbach 3, Ceron 2, Logue 6, West 1, Bullock 0, T. Schmerbach 7, Fealey 4. Totals: 18-52 52.

Sheldon41089— 31

South Medford1941712— 52

3-point goals — Sheldon 5 (Rhode 2, Bruegman 2, Pappas 1), South Medford 3 (Dillard 1, T. Schmerbach 1, Hunter 1). Fouled out — Line.

CLACKAMAS 65, GRANTS PASS 31: At Clackamas, highly-touted freshman Jazzy Davidson scored nine of her game-high 30 points in a first-quarter blitz that saw fifth-seeded Clackamas pull away early from Grants Pass.

Grants Pass (13-10) fell behind 25-7 through one quarter and trailed the Cavaliers (25-2) 41-10 by halftime.

Brooke Anderson scored 16 points and Brooklyn Wakefield added eight points for the Cavers.

GRANTS PASS (31): Brandes 0, Kleiner 0, Anderson 16, Thompson 3, Bruner 0, K. Wakefield 0, Pastrell 0, Mock 4, Robinson 0, B. Wakefield 8, Vainuku-Johnson 0, Mizer 0, Tobey 0. Totals: 11 5-9 31.

CLACKAMAS (65): Krause 0, Peterson 3, Rh. Mogel 4, L. Shackleton 0, D. Mogel 3, Cave 0, Buerk 8, Lacy 0, Barhoum 10, E. Shackleton 3, Re. Mogel 4, Davidson 30. Totals: 27 2-5 65.

Grants Pass73129— 31

Clackamas2516204— 65

3-point goals — Grants Pass 4 (Anderson 2, B. Wakefield 2), Clackamas 9 (Peterson 1, Rh. Mogel 1, D. Mogel 1, Buerk 2, Barhoum 2, E. Schakleton 1, Davidson 1).

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford senior Lottie Dillard, shown during Wednesday’s win over Tigard, scored 14 points to pace the Panthers on Saturday.