South Medford slides by Roseburg
For South Medford to repeat as Southwest Conference champions in boys basketball, defending your home court is a must.
After one half of play, despite taking a 23-11 lead in the second quarter, that seemed a little in question Tuesday night as the Panthers allowed visiting Roseburg to hang around.
And when the Indians opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, suddenly it became gut-check time for South Medford with a 34-31 lead teetering on the brink.
Fortunately for the Panthers, they were up for the challenge on this night.
All five starters scored at least four points in the third quarter as South Medford broke the game open to build a 61-39 lead that ultimately led to a 71-59 victory in the SWC opener for both teams.
“We started sharing the ball a little bit and we kind of just took off from there,” said Panthers head coach James Wightman. “Defensively we were a little better in that third quarter, too, after Roseburg pulled within one.”
Sophomore guard Boden Howell led South Medford (8-5, 1-0 SWC) with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists, while junior Jackson Weiland scored 25 points.
Senior guards Cameron Sewell and Ty Henry each added seven points for the Panthers.
“I thought Bode was very, very good tonight,” said Wightman.
Jayce Wilder scored 13 points and Mykah Mendoza added 12 to pace Roseburg (10-3, 0-1), which saw its seven-game win streak halted.
“We got the first one, so that was good,” said Wightman. “I thought we did a good job on the glass for being a smaller team. Our guys are going to go out there and compete.”
South Medford never trailed in the game but a 3-pointer by Mark Oja allowed Roseburg to pull within one point at 23-22 with about 3 1/2 minutes to go until halftime. Henry answered on the next possession with a 3-pointer on a nice kick-out pass from senior Dylan Espinosa to give the Panthers a lift, and baskets by Deacon Edgar and Tobias Akpan allowed South to hold serve until Weiland scored on a pair of driving efforts to make it 34-28 at halftime.
With the score at 34-31 in the third, Espinosa scored in the paint and Howell added a pull-up jumper to create a little cushion. It was 42-37 when South went on a 19-2 run to close the quarter, with Howell scoring eight points in the quarter while Weiland had six, Sewell added five and Henry and Espinosa each tallied four points.
“That third quarter has been our nemesis all year, but we came out and shared the ball really well,” said Wightman.
Despite holding a 22-point lead heading into the fourth, South Medford allowed the advantage to fritter down to 13 points with a lackluster start to the final frame until Weiland broke the drought with a 3-pointer. After that, the Panthers did just enough to maintain their double-digit lead as Roseburg scored the final six points of the contest.
“When we get up by 15 or 20, we have to learn to just break someone’s will and get up by 30,” said Wightman. “But we come out and try to do some hero ball or think, ‘I’m just going to shoot because I haven’t shot in a while,’ when we have guys wide open. We’re still trying to figure things out, we just have to keep moving the ball because when we do, we’re a fun team to watch.”
Edgar finished with seven rebounds to help lead the Panthers in that category.
ROSEBURG (59): Mendoza 12, Oja 8, Stedman 4, Wilder 13, Ash 0, Bentea 3, Cleary 0, Williams 3, Fullerton 8, Vredenburg 8. Totals: 20 14-19 59.
SOUTH MEDFORD (71): Adee 0, Edgar 2, Sewell 7, Weiland 25, Howell 22, Shuldberg 0, Henry 7, Akpan 4, D. Espinosa 4, A. Espinosa 0. Totals: 27 13-14 71.
South Medford18162710— 71
3-point goals — Roseburg 4 (Oja 1, Wilder 1, Bentea 1, Williams 1), South Medford 4 (Sewell 1, Weiland 1, Howell 1, Henry 1). Technical foul — South Medford bench.
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