South Medford boys survive in OT
PORTLAND — The moment appeared to be slipping away from the South Medford boys basketball team during the early morning hours here Thursday at the Chiles Center.
Eighth-seeded Beaverton had a pep in its step, confidence about all it was doing on both ends of the floor and the No. 4 Panthers squarely on their heels.
Facing a potentially empty trip in their return to the Class 6A state tournament, the Panthers simply looked each other in the eye and said collectively, “Not today.”
South Medford (24-3) staved off Beaverton’s upset bid with an 11-4 edge during a four-minute overtime period to clinch a couple more days in Portland — and a guaranteed state trophy for the first time in six years — with a 52-45 triumph.
“It’s hard to come out here in the morning, but we just wanted to play one more game with these guys,” said Panthers sophomore Jackson Weiland. “We didn’t want that to be our last game so we just gave everything we had.”
The 6-foot point guard certainly knows a little about giving everything he has, playing in this week’s state tourney on the heels of a broken collarbone suffered only a week ago.
Weiland was also pivotal in South Medford getting over the hump late against Beaverton (19-8), going 7-for-12 from the free-throw line in OT to keep the scoreboard moving.
“It was tough because I haven’t been shooting for over a week because of my injury,” said Weiland, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals. “I was just trying to focus and tune everything out and just try to knock some down.”
South Medford senior Devon Malcolm missed a 3-pointer that would have won the game in regulation but came back to open the overtime period with one free throw to give his team a slight edge.
Beaverton tried to work the ball around and take time off the clock, but Weiland stepped in front of a pass for a huge steal that wound up setting him up for his first foul shots in the extra period. Weiland made the first for a 43-41 lead and grabbed the rebound after an errant second shot, again sending him to the line where he went 1-for-2.
After a missed free throw by Beaverton’s Keenan Apperson, South Medford senior Junior Sleezer knocked down a pair of free throws for a 46-41 advantage.
The rest of the game was a series of errant 3-pointers by Beaverton and just enough free throws by the Panthers to seal the deal.
“That was a game of wills,” said South Medford coach James Wightman. “It came down to will and heart and who wants it the most. Halfway through the third quarter it was not looking good with our body language and everything but during a couple timeouts our bench and our coaches were just like, ‘Let’s go, we’re only down two and we’re all right.’”
“We still struggled from the foul line but we got the job done,” added Wightman. “Like we told the boys, a win up here is a big deal. There will be two teams that are going to go 0-2 and we don’t want to be there. Cleveland and Roosevelt (the other consolation semifinalists) are two of the best teams in the state and one of them is going to go 0-2. Now we get to play on Saturday against a really good team and we’ll just go from there.”
South Medford will face seventh-seeded Roosevelt (22-7), a 69-65 winner over No. 3 Cleveland, at 9 a.m. Saturday in the fourth-place final. The loser of that game receives the sixth-place trophy.
“A (state championship) would’ve been nice,” said Malcolm, who had 12 points, 14 rebounds and three assists, “but we want to stay in this and have another chance with each other because we don’t have that much time left with all of us.”
Aidan Rice scored 20 points, knocking down six of his team’s seven 3-pointers, to pace Beaverton, which fell behind 14-2 after the opening four minutes but rallied to take its first lead at 33-31 on a basket by Trevon Hamilton with 1:20 to go in the third quarter.
“They put up just as good of a fight,” said Malcolm, “but we wanted it more. It seemed like it was life or death.”
Boden Howell added 13 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Sleezer added six points, three rebounds and three assists for the Southwest Conference champion Panthers.
“I’m proud of the boys,” said Wightman. “I know that their hearts were definitely broken last night but they came back and battled.”
Aidan Rice 7-21 0-0 20, Max Elmgren 3-9 1-3 8, Trevon Hamilton 2-6 2-2 6, Cristian Gonzalez 0-1 3-4 3, Philip Rosenfeld 0-2 2-2 2, Hunter Borter 1-1 0-0 2, Brady Rice 1-1 0-0 2, Keenan Apperson 1-3 0-1 2, Jordan Mesa 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-44 8-12 45.
SOUTH MEDFORD (24-3)
Jackson Weiland 4-8 8-13 17, Boden Howell 5-11 2-2 13, Devon Malcolm 4-6 4-6 12, Junior Sleezer 2-6 2-2 6, Drew Hall 1-3 0-0 3, Gabe Adams 0-0 1-2 1, Ty Henry 0-0 0-0 0, Desmond Clayborne 0-1 0-0 0, Titus Bloodsaw 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Adee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-36 17-25 52.
Beaverton1012118 4— 45
South Medford189410 11— 52
3-point goals—Beaverton 7-20 (Aidan Rice 6-16, Max Elmgren 1-3, Trevon Hamilton 0-1), South Medford 3-14 (Boden Howell 1-4, Drew Hall 1-2, Jackson Weiland 1-3, Junior Sleezer 0-3, Devon Malcolm 0-2). Fouled out—Beaverton-None, South Medford-Junior Sleezer, Devon Malcolm. Rebounds—Beaverton 18 (Trevon Hamilton 4), South Medford 34 (Devon Malcolm 14). Assists—Beaverton 10 (Trevon Hamilton 5), South Medford 11 (Boden Howell 4). Total fouls—Beaverton 16, South Medford 17.
Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry