A clutch shot by Shakia Teague-Perry extended South Medford’s season Friday, but only by four minutes as West Linn survived the dramatic twist to beat the Panthers in overtime, 65-56, and advance to the Class 6A girls basketball state tournament consolation final at the Chiles Center in Portland.
Playing from behind most of the fourth quarter, the Panthers rallied from a seven-point deficit in the last 32 seconds of regulation, tying the game on Teague-Perry’s buzzer-beating 3 from the top of the key. But the Lions shook off the setback and dominated the extra session, outscoring the Panthers 11-2 to earn a spot in the fourth-place game against Tigard.
South Medford (23-6) bows out after placing second to Sheldon in the Southwest Conference and winning two playoff games to make it back to the final site, where they went 0-2. The Panthers will say goodbye to only one senior, guard Ula Chamberlin, who last week became the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Chamberlin nearly carried the ice-cold Panthers to victory Friday, but the team’s shooting woes proved too much to overcome. She had 24 points, two rebounds and two assists and was 9-for-23 from the floor before fouling out in overtime for South, which shot 28 percent from the field overall (20-for-71), including 3 of 15 from 3-point range. Teague-Perry added 11 points, five rebounds and two steals, and Toni Coleman seven points, five rebounds and three steals for the Panthers, who missed all seven shots they took in OT.
“I think it’s a combination,” South Medford coach Tom Cole said of the Panthers’ offensive struggles. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well, we missed some wide-open layups in the fourth quarter that were uncontested and we missed free throws. It’s the little things that win basketball games and we didn’t execute some of the little things and it came back to haunt us.”
West Linn was led by Aaronette Vonleh, who scored 19 points on 9 of 16 shooting to go with nine rebounds and two blocks, while Payton Shelstad added 16 points and six boards and Elisabeth Dombrow 14 points and 11 boards.
The Lions (21-7), who finished second to Tigard in the Three Rivers League, shot 49 percent from the field (21-for-43) and outrebounded South Medford 49-32.
The Panthers led after each of the first three quarters, including by one, 39-38, heading into the fourth, but the Lions outscored South 9-2 over the next 3:13 to take a 47-41 lead. The Panthers rallied back to within two on a jumper by Teague-Perry with 2:19 to go, but the Lions pulled away again, using a 5-0 run to take a 54-47 lead on a free throw by Cami Fulcher with 42 seconds left.
A jumper by Chamberlin with 32 seconds left and two free throws by her with 12 seconds to go pulled South Medford within three, and a free throw miss by the Lions with eight seconds left opened the door for Teague-Perry’s heroics. South advanced the ball and tried to set up a 3 for a guard, but West Linn denied those options, leaving the sophomore forward. The emotional lift from her shot didn’t last long, however.
“Yeah, you get some energy off a big play like that to give you life, but of course, right after tip, we lose the tip and they score immediately,” Cole said. “So we’re right back on our heels again and never took the lead in overtime.”
South got within one point on a pair of Coleman free throws with 2:40 to go in OT, but a jumper by Vonleh 11 seconds later sparked the Lions’ 8-0 game-ending run, during which the Panthers went 0-for-6 from the field. Chamberlin fouled out with 1:37 left and the Panthers trailing 61-56.
“We didn’t execute at certain times and definitely had some defensive lapses that allowed (West Linn) to take advantage,” Cole said.
The loss ended another solid season for the Panthers, who won 11 straight in December and January to put themselves in position to contend for the SWC championship. They ended up losing only two league games, both to Sheldon, which was set to play Benson on Friday night for a berth in the 6A championship game.
South Medford should be loaded for another deep playoff run next season, with four of five starters coming back, the entire bench plus a freshmen class that Cole raves about.
All those returners, plus this year’s postseason experience could make next season special, he said.
“Any time you can win 22, 23 basketball games it’s a great season and you can’t take away from what they did,” Cole said. “And I think the most important part about getting to the Chiles Center, it gives your younger kids a chance to reflect on what it takes to get there and win there.”
Cole went on to point out the uncanny similarities between this team’s state tournament run and the one by South in 2011. That season, the Panthers were newbies at the big dance and also went two-and-out, but he believes that experience served as a jumping off point for the state championship run the following season.
“I’m not saying that because I believe next year we’ll win a state championship,” he said. “I’m saying that getting (to state) was a catalyst. It was a big deal and what you learn while you’re there for those kids, no matter where they sat, they were able to recognize what it takes to be successful. And that now becomes the challenge for this group.”
SOUTH MEDFORD (23-6)
Ula Chamberlin 9-23 5-6 24, Shakia Teague-Perry 5-10 0-0 11, Toni Coleman 2-7 3-8 7, Emma Schmerbach 1-3 3-4 5, Bella Pedrojetti 2-14 0-0 5, Tanesha Coley 1-4 0-0 2, Sierra Logue 0-4 2-2 2, Laini Dahlin 0-0 0-0 0, Lottie Dillard 0-0 0-0 0, Kaili Chamberlin 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 20-71 13-20 56.
WEST LINN (21-7)
Aaronette Vonleh 9-16 1-1 19, Payton Shelstad 5-9 1-8 16, Elisabeth Dombrow 5-9 3-4 14, Cami Fulcher 0-2 11-14 11, Audrey Roden 1-5 0-0 2, Olivia McVicker 1-1 0-0 2, Katie Schoenborn 0-1 1-2 1, Riley Drullinger 0-0 0-0 0, Vanessa Viuhkola 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-43 17-29 65.
3-point goals—South Medford 3-15 (Shakia Teague-Perry 1-1, Bella Pedrojetti 1-8, Ula Chamberlin 1-5, Kaili Chamberlin 0-1), West Linn 6-15 (Payton Shelstad 5-8, Elisabeth Dombrow 1-3, Audrey Roden 0-3, Katie Schoenborn 0-1). Fouled out—South Medford-Toni Coleman, West Linn-Audrey Roden, Cami Fulcher. Rebounds—South Medford 32 (Toni Coleman 5, Shakia Teague-Perry 5), West Linn 49 (Elisabeth Dombrow 11). Assists—South Medford 7 (Ula Chamberlin 2), West Linn 19 (Cami Fulcher 9). Total fouls—South Medford 22, West Linn 13. Technical fouls—None.