PORTLAND — South Medford came out cold and struggled to warm up during a 48-29 quarterfinal loss to No. 1-ranked Southridge in the 6A girls basketball state tournament Thursday at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center.
South Medford handled the Skyhawks’ vaunted full-court press from the opening tip, making smart passes that set up several early layup attempts and a couple tries from 3-point range.
“We were breaking it pretty good,” South Medford senior guard Ula Chamberlin said. “Once we got the ball into the middle, their defense collapsed and we were able to transition down the lanes.”
The Panthers had enough success getting through the backcourt that Southridge called off its full-court ‘D’ by the second quarter.
But the Skyhawks have two layers to their defense, which leads 6A in points allowed.
First, opponents must escape the backcourt, then they have to solve 6-foot-5 center Cameron Brink, who settled herself in front of the basket on every possession.
“We knew we were facing some mismatches with their height, and Brink has been a load for teams all season,” South Medford coach Tom Cole said. “Her presence around the basket is a testament to her as a player.”
South Medford (23-5) next takes on Three Rivers League runner-up West Linn (20-6) in a consolation game at 9 a.m. Friday.
Brink finished with three blocked shots, but her impact was felt in Panthers’ shots that carried a little more arc than normal or by players simply dribbling away and taking their chances from longer range.
The result was 3-for-25 (.120) shooting for South Medford in the first half.
“The ball didn’t fall the way we needed it to,” Cole said. “Kids don’t make shots early and they get tight and start to lose confidence.”
Brink, a junior, has committed to play college basketball at Stanford.
Southridge put up the first nine points, prompting Cole to spend a timeout not even three minutes into the game.
The Panthers came out of the huddle and got an extra look at the basket when guard Toni Coleman alertly whipped a ball off Brink’s leg while falling out of bounds. Bella Pedrojetti made her teammate’s extra effort pay off when she took a pass in the corner,side-stepped Southridge defender Kaylen Blair and connected on a 3-pointer from in front of the Skyhawks’ bench.
“I knew she was coming at me pretty hard, so I gave her a pump fake, dribbled to the side and shot it,” Pedrojetti said.
It proved to be the Panthers’ only make from behind the arc.
Southridge finished the first quarter with a 20-5 lead and would maintain a double-digit margin the rest of the way.
“We were out of rhythm, and Southridge is a good team,” Pedrojetti said. “We had no answer for Brink in the paint.”
Brink’s presence was on clear display during a South Medford fast break early in the second quarter when Sierra Logue and Shakia Teague-Perry traded passes from block to block, searching for a way past the Southridge giant. Instead, the exchange ended with a tie-up and possession went to the Skyhawks.
Later in the second quarter, Chamberlin dished a pass back to Logue, the Panthers’ tallest player at 6-2, and she tried a shot over the top of Brink. The attempt clipped the back of the rim and came out, but Logue was fouled on the shot and sank both free throws to bring South Medford within 24-11.
Southridge stretched the margin to 20 points early in the third quarter when the Panthers finally solved their fast break troubles. Chamberlin came down the floor with Teague-Perry filling the other lane and Emma Schmerbach following down the middle. The trio put together a quick series of passes in a triangle formation, leaving Schmerbach to hit a 5-footer at the front of the rim.
South Medford’s Tanesha Coley would provide another highlight in the final minutes, swiping a steal at midcourt and moving quickly to the hoop for a three-point play. She led the Panthers with eight points.
“We are a very young team, but in the face of adversity, I saw some sparks from our team,” Cole said. “Southridge is the two-time champs, and there is a reason it is going through them again.”
SOUTH MEDFORD (23-4)
Tanesha Coley 3-8 2-3 8; Emma Schmerbach 3-4 0-0 6; Sierra Logue 1-7 2-2 4; Bella Pedrojetti 1-8 0-0 3; Toni Coleman 1-4 1-2 3; Kaili Chamberlin 0-3 2-2 2; Shakia Teague-Perry 1-9 0-0 2; Laini Dahlin 0-2 1-2 1; Lottie Dillard 0-0; 0-0 0; Ula Chamberlin 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 10-51 8-11 29.
Cameron Brink 6-9 8-12 20; Kilyn Dawkins 4-5 2-3 10; Kaylen Blair 2-7 0-0 5; Kyla Vinson 1-2 2-2 5; Maya Hoff 1-4 2-4 4; McKelle Meek 0-8 2-2 2; Akeve Randall 0-1 1-2 1; Emoney Perry-Reid 0-2 1-2 1; Tait Quinlan 0-0 0-0 0; Jewel Miner 0-0 0-0 0; Kailea Boerste 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-39 18-27 48.
South Medford 5 6 5 13— 29
Southridge20 8 12 8— 48
3-point goals—South Medford 1-13 (Bella Pedrojetti 1-7; Kaili Chamberlin 0-2; Laini Dahlin 0-1; Ula Chamberlin 0-3), Southridge 2-12 (Kyla Vinson 1-2; Kaylen Blair 1-2; Maya Hoff 0-1; McKelle Meek 0-6; Kailea Boerste 0-1). Fouled out—South Medford-Toni Coleman. Rebounds—South Medford 28 (Tanesha Coley 6; Shakia Teague-Perry 6), Southridge 39 (Cameron Brink 15). Assists—South Medford 7 (Ula Chamberlin 3), Southridge 9 (McKelle Meek 3; Maya Hoff 3). Total fouls—South Medford 20, Southridge 10.