Cold-shooting South loses in semis to Sprague

There was complete silence and a dozen players sat with expressionless faces in the South Medford locker room following the first semifinal game of the 22nd Abby's Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament Thursday at the North Medford High gym.

It was understandable. The Panthers were on the losing end of a 48-33 drubbing at the hands of the Sprague Olympians from Salem. And the game wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

To say South's shooting was off would be an understatement.

After converting just 4 of 15 field goals in the opening half and trailing 28-16, the Panthers missed all 11 of their field goals in the third quarter. South Medford went without a basket from the 5:30 mark of the second quarter until Jack Singler put back in an offensive rebound with 6:08 remaining in the game. By that time, the Olympians had built a 43-23 lead.

For game South Medford (7-2) shot just 8 of 39 (21 percent) from the field.

"Basically, the ball didn't go into the basket like we planned," said Panthers senior Matt Retzlaff.

Sprague (7-3) plays North Medford for the title at 6 p.m. today at the Black Tornado gym. It's the first time in three tournament appearances Sprague has reached the championship game.

"They were so much more physical than us and we couldn't match them," said South Medford coach Dennis Murphy. "That's what I was afraid of."

Sprague outrebounded the Panthers 34-26 and shot 54 percent (19-35) from the field.

"We didn't take anything away from them," said Murphy. "We couldn't press because we couldn't score. You have to have the ability to shoot the basketball and make shots. You can't beat anybody shooting 20 percent."

The Panthers trailed by 12 points at halftime despite Sprague star AJ Lapray getting two fouls in the first quarter and spending most of the second period on the bench. The 6-foot-4 junior point guard had just two points at intermission and finished with eight, well under his 20-point average.

"I just wanted to make plays for my teammates," said Lapray. "We got the ball down low a lot and our big guys stepped up. We rebounded well and got a lot of offensive rebounds."

Sprague's eighth-year coach, BJ Dobrkovsky, said Lapray contributed in other ways.

"(Lapray) is a savvy kid," said Dobrkovsky, a 34-year old Lebanon High and Willamette University product. "He kept himself in the game. He understands we have other pieces that can do things. He showed more in the sense that he made the right plays."

The Olympians were led by senior wing Ben Foote's 13 points and junior post Devvon Gage's 10.

"Our focus was to handle their pressure," said Dobrkovsky. "We wanted to concentrate on what we do. We never lost our intensity defensively and that was big for us.

"We had guys come in off the bench to give us valuable minutes. When you can come down here and have everybody contribute the way they did, that's a very good team win."

SPRAGUE (48) — Parsell 0, O'Connell 6, Morgan 7, Gage 10, Foote 13, Lapray 8, Kim 0, Brotton 2, Long 2, Collins 0. Totals: 19-35 10-20 48.

SOUTH MEDFORD (33) — Sarsona 4, Retzlaff 5, McCoy 2, Johnson 0, Delaney 4, Singler 6, Jimenez 0, Garcia 3, Cooney 4, Curtius 5. Totals: 8-39 16-25 33.

Sprague 17 11 10 10 — 48

South Medford 11 5 4 13 — 33

3-point goals — South Medford 1-12 (Garcia 1).

SOUTH EUGENE 56, RED BLUFF 43 — Ben Giland and Jake Mather both scored 12 points for South Eugene at the Abby's Holiday Classic.

Eli Lininger added 11 for the Axemen (1-6).

Jonah McInnis had 10 points for Red Bluff (4-7).

SOUTH EUGENE (56) — Barnes 2, Green-Richardson 5, Kim 0, Neel 2, Moran 4, Smith 0, Lininger 11, Young 2, Mather 12, Schindler 2, Giland 12, Lindsey 0, Q. Richardson 4. Totals: 24-51 7-17 56.

RED BLUFF (43) — Sinclair 4, Ross 5, Blaser 9, Burns 2, Nichols 3, Avila 4, Sandow 6, Fulk 0, McInnis 10. Totals: 15-50 9-18 43.

South Eugene 17 13 16 10 — 56

Red Bluff 8 15 13 7 — 43

3-point goals — South Eugene 1 (Green-Richardson 1), Red Bluff 4 (Ross 1, Blazer 1, Nichols 1, Sandow 1). Fouled out — Lininger. Technical fouls — Red Bluff coach Stan Twitchell.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or by email at

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