Southern Oregon High School Basketball – Where do we stand and where are we going?
With most teams almost half-way through their league schedules and with about a month left in their seasons, it’s time to take a look at where our Southern Oregon high school boys and girls basketball teams stand currently, and where they may be headed.
Today, we’ll start with our 6A schools:
South Medford Boys
Currently 11-5 overall and 4-0 in the Southwest Conference. Ranked #12 by the OSAA.
The Panther boys have notched some great wins and have struggled with consistency in other games. They currently sit in great position to win the SWC and, at #12 in the state rankings, host at least one playoff game. However, with eight league games to play and South having already survived some extremely close conference matchups, neither of those things are at all guaranteed. Barring multiple stumbles, the Panthers will end up winning the SWC and host a first round playoff game against a very beatable opponent. The matchups always get tougher from there, and if South plays on the road, a tournament berth is going to require the type of effort they are capable of, but haven’t consistently delivered. My prediction is the Panthers find that effort and make their second straight state tournament appearance at the Chiles Center.
South Medford Girls
Currently 14-2 overall and 4-0 in the Southwest Conference. Ranked #2 by the OSAA.
The South Medford girls have only lost one game to an Oregon team this year and have yet to be tested in league play. They are a virtual lock to win the Southwest Conference and finish in the top eight in the OSAA rankings, ensuring they will host a couple of playoff games. It would take a quite an upset to lose one of those games and deny the Panthers their annual invitation to the state tournament played March 8-11 at the Chiles Center. They will have to be considered one of the favorites in the tourney and could very well be hanging another championship banner above Dennis Murphy Court this March.
North Medford Boys
Currently 4-12 overall and 2-3 in the Southwest Conference. Ranked #40 by the OSAA.
Things over at North aren’t quite as rosy. The Black Tornado boys recently enjoyed a three-game winning streak, including their first two conference games that put them in great position to finish in the top three in the SWC and secure an automatic playoff berth. Since then, North has put itself back behind the eight-ball with three consecutive conference losses. They have shown that they have the ability to stay with anybody in the conference, but inconsistency and inexperience have doomed North Medford at the end of several close games. It would appear the Tornado will have a difficult time reaching the top 32 in OSAA rankings, so their best route to the playoffs would be working up into the top-three of the SWC. North currently sits in fifth place in the conference and must leap-frog a couple of tough teams to get there and secure a 17th-straight Black Tornado playoff appearance. With the parity we see this year in the SWC, those teams will be beating up on each other and a 5-2 or even 4-3 finish could get it done for North. In my eternal optimism (and maybe some bias), I’m going to say the Tornado boys pull it off.
North Medford Girls
Currently 5-11 overall and 1-4 in the Southwest Conference. Ranked #39 by the OSAA.
The road to the playoffs is even murkier for the Black Tornado girls. They currently sit in sixth place in the Southwest Conference at 1-4. The girls side of the SWC is stacked with the top four teams all ranked in the top 14 in the state by the OSAA, so a rapid climb in the standings is a daunting task to say the least. The good news for the North girls is that this is a team packed with young talent that are gaining valuable experience. 2022-23 may not be their year, but they will be a team to watch over the next couple of seasons, for sure!
Tomorrow: 5A Crater, Ashland and Eagle Point.
By Rick Dyer