South Medford guard Andee Ritter goes to the basket against Oregon City on Friday. - Photo by Cliff Pfenning

No. 1 South wins Nike title

LAKE OSWEGO — The South Medford girls basketball team showed its state and national rankings are well deserved this week, capping off a stellar tournament with a 69-50 drubbing of traditional state power Oregon City Friday night in the championship game of the Nike Interstate Shootout.

Freshman Andee Ritter, starting in place of injured point guard Yaremi Mejia, scored a game-high 25 points and was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Three other Panthers scored in double figures as they improved to 10-0 at Lakeridge High.

"This is a gigantic win for us," South Medford senior post Tess Picknell said. "Oregon City has been a powerhouse in this state for a long time and we just beat them.

"This gives us powerhouse status, too."

Picknell scored 12 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had five blocks, while Ritter and the rest of the Panthers' guards sprinted for lay-ups that frustrated the Pioneers throughout the game.

South Medford broke free of a 23-all tie in the second quarter with a 16-6 run to lead 39-29 at the half.

The Panthers forced seven turnovers and Oregon City missed a number of close shots and was never able to mount a significant comeback.

South Medford led by 22 before a last-second 3-point shot by Oregon City closed the scoring.

"Oregon City has a tremendous legacy, but our girls didn't back down one bit," South Medford coach Tom Cole said. "We proved that we can play with them. Now we just have to keep working one game at a time to get better."

Friday's win followed a semifinal win over Washington's top-ranked team, Woodinville High.

"This win shows that we should be ranked No. 1 in Oregon and maybe higher nationally," Ritter said.

Without Mejia, Cole played the starting five of Picknell, Ritter, Kylie Towry, Luisa Tago and Ashley Bolston for most of the game, subbing only at the end of each half.

Oregon City went 10-deep into its lineup, but didn't get an edge with it.

"I got really tired, but it was worth it," Bolston said. "We worked really hard, especially on defense, and that's what separated us."

"I thought our depth would be a difference in the game, but it really wasn't," Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf said. "Give those girls a lot of credit for playing basically the whole game and beating us up and down the court. They looked pretty good."

Oregon City made just 4 of 22 3-point attempts, misses that prevented any comeback attempt.

"The score might not show it, but it felt close the whole game," Bolston said. "I always felt like they were going to make a run, but it didn't happen."

Towry scored 17 points, and Bolston had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Ritter contributed seven steals and four assists, and Tago had six rebounds and three steals.

The Pioneers dropped to 10-2, with their other loss coming in a tournament in Hawaii.

South Medford has the weekend off before returning to action Tuesday with a road game at Roseburg, knowing that the state tournament is still two months away and Oregon City could well be a playoff opponent at some point.

"This is a big win, but now we have to keep working on getting better," Cole said.

Guelsdorf considered this week a chance to find out about oneself.

"This tournament is about learning what you do well and what you don't do well," Guelsdorf said. "South Medford showed us a lot of things we don't do well, and we've got time to work on those things."

OREGON CITY (50) — Walters 5, Gertz 0, Brewer 2, Lugar 2, Roberts 0, Goff 0, Fifield 6, Taylor 0, J. Paine 4, Jo. Paine 14, Bradford 4, Je. Paine 2, Preston 11. Totals: 19 9-13 50.

SOUTH MEDFORD (69) — Vargas 0, Towry 17, Tago 5, Ritter 25, Bolston 10, Sleezer 0, Spring 0, Morris 0, Picknell 12. Totals: 27 9-18 69.

Oregon City 16 13 11 10 — 50

South Medford 17 22 17 13 — 69

3-point goals — Oregon City 3 (Walters 1, Fifield 2), South Medford 6 (Towry 3, Tago 1, Ritter 2).

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