Despite building a 28-10 cushion through one quarter of play, South Medford found itself in a nail-biter once all was said and done before fending off Central Catholic for a 65-62 nonleague victory at South Medford High.
“We were a tale of two halves,” said Cole, whose team led 40-21 at halftime. “We’re lucky the game didn’t go any longer than it did.”
“We’re still climbing that hill of maturity and it really showed today,” added Cole, who returned almost everyone from last year but still has only one senior and one junior. “It’s hard to feel bad after a win, but that was one I hope is a lesson that we can all learn from.”
Sophomore Kaili Chamberlin and junior Bella Pedrojetti dominated the early going with their hot shooting from the perimeter, and sophomore Toni Coleman chimed in with some transition baskets that led to an offensive explosion reminiscent of last Saturday’s 33-point surge against North Torrance of California that led to a runaway win.
Chamberlin, a 5-9 forward, finished with a game-high 25 points and joined the 5-10 Pedrojetti in knocking down three 3-pointers apiece. Pedrojetti netted 11 points, while Coleman finished with 14 points for the fifth-ranked Panthers (9-2).
“We played with a purpose in the first quarter and really were playing one of the better quarters of basketball they’ve played all year,” said Cole.
The first signs of concern arose in a third quarter that saw Central Catholic only outscore South Medford 17-14 but the telltale issues were there for the head coach.
“We just didn’t show up in the third quarter and we played really sluggish,” said Cole. “The momentum hadn’t shifted drastically but they won that quarter, and then things really went downhill in the fourth.”
Turnovers, a few bad shots and lackluster rebounding resulted in South Medford’s 16-point advantage trimmed to single digits by the Portland-based Rams (3-7) at the four-minute mark and then negated entirely with about two minutes to play.
Buoyed by three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter by Abby Cooper, whose 17 points led Central Catholic, South Medford faced a one-point deficit with 1:30 to go when senior Ula Chamberlin found sophomore Shakia Teague-Perry on a great assist for a go-ahead basket.
Cole said the Panthers then forced a turnover and Kaili Chamberlin was sent to the free-throw line, only to have her shot miss the mark and wind up in the hustling hands of her older sister Ula to maintain possession as she was fouled on a putback.
Ula Chamberlin sank both free throws to push her total to eight points and give her team their final margin of victory.
Teague-Perry blocked an ensuing inbounds pass that resulted in South Medford again taking possession to close the game out.
“We got really lucky because our youth really showed up and I hope that part of today’s learning is just the maturity to play four quarters even when you’ve got a comfortable lead,” said the coach. “You can’t change the play that got you to that comfortable level. We’re very fortunate to walk away with a win.”
CENTRAL CATHOLIC (62): Raimondo 6, Abraham 6, Feimoefiafi 4, Montgomery 0, Bass 8, Burgess 3, Payne 13, Potter 1, Scarlett 4, Cooper 17. Totals: 21-59 11-17 62.
SOUTH MEDFORD (65): K. Chamberlin 25, Coleman 14, U. Chamberlin 8, Schmerbach 2, Pedrojetti 11, Logue 0, Dahlin 0, Teague-Perry 5. Totals: 25-59 9-19 65.
Central Catholic10111724— 62
South Medford28121411— 65
3-point goals — Central Catholic 9-22 (Cooper 4, Bass 2, Burgess 1, Raimondo 2), South Medford 6-17 (K. Chamberlin 3, Pedrojetti 3). Fouled out — Abraham, Payne.
JV result — South Medford won in overtime
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry