Skyhawks use strong defense to stifle South Medford

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Skyhawks use strong defense to stifle South Medford

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Metro League Champions. Two losses to an in-state opponent in as many seasons. Two-time reigning state champions. On paper, the Southridge Skyhawks are a force to be reckoned with.

They may still be a younger team– without a single senior on the roster– but their experience and execution were on full display Thursday afternoon as the No. 1 seed Skyhawks (23-3) defeated the No. 8 seed South Medford Panthers (23-4) 48-29 in the quarterfinals of the OSAA/ OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A girls basketball playoffs.

“It’s disappointing,” South Medford coach Tom Cole said. “We were not the version of ourselves that got us to the tournament.”

“It was disappointing when some of the kids who have typically been better were not today. What we got to hope is that tomorrow is a new day and we can regroup and put forth a better effort in the morning.”

Southridge sophomore Cameron Brink led all scorers with a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds. Emma Schmerbach finished with six points off the bench for South Medford.

“It’s always important when you have a good leader like her,” Southridge coach Michael Bergmann said. “She does so many things. I thought she was a good teammate tonight where she was kicking out when they were doubling and did a great job on defense. It’s crucial to have your top players play with lots of energy, and she did that tonight.”

Southridge got off to a strong start as the Skyhawks rattled off nine consecutive points to start the game en route to a 20-5 lead, but both teams progressively slowed down from there as both teams couldn’t break double-digits in scoring in the second quarter.

“That energy carries us throughout the game,” Brink said. “You come out and get an early lead then it just kinda ruins the spirit of the other team.”

Added Bergmann: “[Getting out to a quick start] always help because then we can sit back in our defense and not have to stress about teams trying to slow us down. It’s a good thing if we can come out early. We did a good job in the press of making them not be able to get settled.”

The 29 points were the lowest scoring total that a high-octane South Medford offense has put up this season. The Panthers shot 11.1 percent (1-9) from behind the arc which is far from normal for a team that relies on their perimeter shooting. Cole noted the Skyhawks length at every position and his teams lack of an inside presence as key factors.

“Our kids lacked some confidence, played a little tentative which is a reflection of youth because I think they realized that the length Cameron presents in that middle, and she certainly showed that by a few blocks she had early in the first half,” he said. “I think all those variables altered things.”

On Friday evening the Skyhawks will be up against a familiar foe when they face fierce rivals, the Beaverton Beavers. If the Hawks want to defeat the Beavers for a third time this season, they will need to move the ball, execute, and not let the Beavers get into any kind of rhythm.

And while the Panthers might have been disappointed in their performance, they know that tomorrow is another opportunity to bounce back and finish their season off strong.

“The goal at the beginning of the season was to get to the state tournament and it was a chore to get here,” Cole said. “After that, it’s a reflection of now that you lost, you can’t hang your head. You got to turn around tomorrow morning, get ready to compete again, and give it another shot.”

“We’re extremely young so a lot of this is about learning. They faced some adversity, came up on the short end of it, and tomorrow’s a chance to redeem yourselves and put a new step forward and grow from the experience. Let it be the guide for not only now, but for the future.”