PORTLAND — It was a tale of two halves, and unfortunately for the South Medford Panthers, theirs was not the last.
Behind a vice-like press and some hot outside shooting, the Benson Techsters outscored South Medford 43-11 in the second half Friday to flip a halftime deficit into a runaway victory, 63-42, in a Class 6A girls basketball playoff game at Benson High.
The second-round victory advanced Benson to the eight-team state tournament, which begins Wednesday at the University of Portland. South Medford finished 17-10.
The Panthers, who placed third in the Southwest Conference, jumped on Benson 18-10 in the opening quarter and took a 31-20 lead into intermission.
South Medford was still nursing a slim lead about midway through the third quarter when junior guard Ula Chamberlin had a tooth knocked out and came out of the game. Benson, which had already erased most of the deficit by that point, took advantage of the shorthanded Panthers, drilling four consecutive 3-pointers.
When the dust settled Benson (21-5), which will take a nine-game winning streak into its quarterfinal game against Tigard, outscored South Medford 23-4 in the third to seize a 43-35 lead.
“We just never could get back into a rhythm,” South Medford coach Tom Cole said. “We turned the ball over a lot in the second half. Their pressure just broke us, really. … It was like a tidal wave.”
Nine of the Panthers’ 15 turnovers were committed in the second half.
Chamberlin, who scored 10 points, returned later in the third, but by then, Cole said, the Techsters were rolling.
“The momentum had shifted and it just was a very different ballgame in the second half,” he said. “They’re going to learn from this. We were good enough to be relevant and not good enough to win.”
Sophomore guard Bella Pedrojetti hit three 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 15 points for South, while Shakia Perry added seven points.
Ciera Ellington and Aujae Yoakum scored 18 points apiece to lead Benson, while Tayler Lyday added 17.
South Medford will return its entire roster next season, a cast which included seven freshmen and no seniors.
SOUTH MEDFORD (42): K. Chamberlin 5, Coleman 4, U. Chamberlin 10, Schmerbach 0, Pedrojetti 15, Fish 0, Dahlin 0, Perry 7, Laupola 1. Totals: 15 6-8 42.
BENSON (63): Lukeji 2, Porter 8, Ellington 18, Lyday 17, Yoakum 18, Harris 0. Totals: 25 7-13 63.
3-point goals — South Medford 6 (U. Chamberlin 2, Pedrojetti 3, K. Chamberlin 1), Benson 6 (Ellington 2, Porter 2, Yoakum 2).
TIGARD 51, GRANTS PASS 48: At Tigard, Ahdra Klingler scored nine of her team-high 17 points in the second half and Grants Pass hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter to push Tigard in a Class 6A second-round playoff game at Tigard High.
Grace Gaither added nine points and Alyssa Etheridge eight for the Cavers (16-10), who finished with 11 3-pointers but needed at least one more to pull off what would have been the biggest upset of the Round of 16.
Campbell Gray scored 20 points and Delaney Leavitt 18 to pace second-seeded Tigard (23-3), which has won 18 straight and will play Benson in state quarterfinals play Wednesday in Portland.
GRANTS PASS (48): Ah. Klingler 17, Gaither 9, Etheridge 8, Williams 6, Ay. Klingler 4, Bruner 4. Totals 17 3-4 48.
TIGARD (51): Gray 20, Levitt 18, Lafountain 6, Lyons 3, Brown 2, McGaughey 2. Totals 17 9-14 51.
3-point goals — Grants Pass 11 (Ah. Klingler 3, Gaither 3, Etheridge 2, Williams 2, Ay. Klingler 1), Tigard 8 (Levitt 4, Gray 2, Lafountain 2).