Sunset pulls away at the foul line late to beat South Medford

PORTLAND — Sunset’s boys basketball team knew they were a long shot to win a berth to the 2013 Class 6A state tournament.

And the Apollos took a long road just to get to the Rose Garden.

So once they got there, they decided they better hang around as long as MILES VANCE - SUNSET SENIOR - Sunset senior Daniel Duitsman makes a drive to the basket during his team's 61-55 win over South Medford on March 7 at the Rose Garden.

Sunset made that happen with a 61-55 upset of No. 6 South Medford, the Southern Oregon Conference champion, in the March 7 consolation semifinals. No. 10 Sunset, the fourth-place team from the Metro League, opened tournament play with a loss to Jesuit, then dropped a heartbreaker to Southridge on Saturday and placed sixth at state with a final season record of 17-12. For more on Sunset’s other two games, please see the stories on Pages A12 and A11.

“I’m excited. I’m excited to play Saturday,” said Sunset senior Daniel Duitsman, who hit 5-of-6 shots from the field (including three three-pointers) and scored 13 points. “Just being here as a senior is a big deal for me.”

“We’re just a real strong team. When we play together, we win,” added junior post Tyler Gutierrez, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks on his way to second-team all-tournament honors.

The Panthers, who opened the tournament with a quarterfinal loss to Central Catholic, were eliminated by the Apollos and ended their season at 21-7.

Sunset started fast with two Tyler Gutierrez baskets and a Taylor Harris layin to lead 9-4 2 minutes, 25 seconds into the game, but South responded with hoops by Matt Winans and Matt Toreson and took a 14-11 lead when Jesse Mondry hit once from the field and twice at the foul line with 1:36 left in the quarter.

Duitsman did his part to re-take the lead for the Apollos, drilling three-pointers on three straight possessions at the end of the first quarter and start of the second, the last of those pushing Sunset in front 20-14 11 seconds into the second period.

“I hit the first one and I felt it so I just kept shooting and it kept going in,” Duitsman said.

Sunset couldn’t hold that edge, though, and saw the Panthers rip off nine straight points to lead 23-20 when Winans buried a “three” with 5:05 to go in the quarter and carried a 31-30 lead into halftime.

The score was still deadlocked at 34-34 when Adrian Garcia scored for the Panthers with 5:31 left in the third period, but Sunset put together a 9-0 run over the next five minutes to take control of the contest. Jeff Bieber kicked that off with a layin, Gutierrez followed with an inside hoop set up by Adam Mead, Mead connected himself off a Tucker Hutchinson pass, Duitsman made a layin and Michael Kerns hit one foul shot to make it 43-34 with 39 seconds left in the frame.

Kerns scored on a layin at the start of the fourth to boost the lead to 45-34, but it got tighter — much tighter — after that. In the next 6:13, the Panthers outscored the Apollos 17-8, getting a “three” and five points from Mondry, two baskets from Brandon Massey and then seven points in 25 seconds by Garcia to cut the deficit to 53-52 with 1:21 left in the game.

But Sunset put the game away at the line, with Joe McFerrin hit 4-of-6 foul shots and Bieber four straight free throws in the final 1:03 to send the Panthers packing.

For the game, McFerrin added 15 points and Bieber nine points and seven boards. For South Medford, Garcia had 18 points and five steals, Winans added 12 points and four assists, and Mondry scored nine in the loss.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to

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