South Medford's Yaremi Mejia goes up for a shot during Wednesday's game. - Larry Stauth Jr.

Panthers blow by Black Tornado

She tossed and turned and, finally, Wednesday morning arrived.

After seeing the South Medford boys basketball team lose to North Medford on Tuesday night, Panthers sophomore guard Yaremi Mejia went to bed eager to face the Black Tornado.

"I fell asleep and woke up at 10:30 (p.m.) and was like, 'Oh man, I want to go into the gym and play now,'" Mejia said. "We were just like mad watching their student section, and we were like, 'You guys are going down tomorrow.'"

After classes, a team shootaround and dinner at Hanna Curtius's home, Mejia and her teammates got their shot at revenge and cashed in, routing North 64-29 at North Medford High on Wednesday night.

Mejia had 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting and sophomore guard Kylie Towry recorded 18 points for the eighth-ranked Panthers, who came alive like a sleeping dragon after a foggy start to finish the Southern Oregon Hybrid season undefeated.

"To go undefeated and win our first conference championship in a long time, and to do it undefeated, says a lot about these kids," said South head coach Tom Cole, whose team went 3-0 against North this season. "I am really proud of them."

League champion South will host a Class 6A playoff game next Wednesday. As of late Wednesday night, the Panthers (19-5, 12-0 SOH) were eighth in the OSAA rankings with a 623 RPI. Second-place North Medford (13-10, 7-5 SOH) will play on the road next Wednesday.

Both squads automatically qualified for the 32-team bracket by finishing in the top three in conference play.

"We are just going into playoffs hoping to have some momentum," North head coach Kailey Bostwick said. "Playoff time, we know anybody can win on any given night."

Towry scored eight points in a 27-second span in the first quarter to put South ahead 14-9 after trailing 9-6. Mejia did her part as well, pouring in six of her points in the quarter.

"I look out for Kylie," Mejia said. "I knew she had our rhythm with our shooting so I was like, 'Here you go.'"

North had a fine start, with Alyssa Maurer scoring her team's first seven points. But South's 12-0 run in the final 1:22 of the first period proved to be the beginning of the end for the home team.

"We were just trying to run some clock off and get the best shot possible," Bostwick said. "We did that for a while and then for some reason we went away from it."

South continued to pile it on, outscoring North 18-2 in the second to take control.

"Once we started getting into a rhythm, you could just see the momentum shift," Cole said. "That has been the story with us. We have taken some shots from teams, and everyone is going to give it their best. We have to be willing to persevere through it and we did."

North was woeful from the field, managing just 22 percent shooting (10 of 46). The Black Tornado went 1-for-15 in the second quarter and finished 1-for-12 in the final eight minutes. They missed 13 of their 14 3-point attempts.

Center Tess Picknell registered 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks for the Panthers, who sealed their first league title since 1994 earlier this month.

"We are really playing as a team right now," Towry said.

North senior Danielle Smith, who had been injured the entire season, was greeted with a warm applause as she was given the start and allowed to play the contest's first possession.

Maurer, a senior, turned in 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals for North before fouling out.

SOUTH MEDFORD (64) — Vargas 8, Towry 18, Tago 3, Bolston 2, Curtius 2, Taft 1, Carroll 0, Mejia 15, Brennan 5, Picknell 10. Totals: 24-52 9-12 64.

NORTH MEDFORD (29) — Straub 0, Williamson 0, Smith 0, Maurer 11, Hogue 0, Peters 4, Leming 3, Erb 2, Allen 0, Ellis 6, Murphy 1, Becker 2, Berryessa 0. Totals: 10-46 8-11 29.

South Medford 18 18 14 14 — 64

North Medford 9 2 11 7 — 29

3-point goals — South Medford 7-22 (Towry 4, Vargas 1, Tago 1, Mejia 1), North Medford 1-14 (Leming 1). Fouled out — Maurer. Technical fouls — Straub.

JV result — South Medford won.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail

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