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Wildcats edge past Panthers

Westview takes out the second-ranked South Medford boys by 54-51
by: Miles Vance ATTACK — Westview’s Miles Gatewood attacks the basket while defended by South Medford’s Josh Havird.

PORTLAND - Westview's boys basketball team knew it would face challenges at the Class 6A state basketball tournament.

And South Medford was right there to prove it in the two teams' quarterfinal match-up at the Rose Garden on March 9.

Neither team led by more than six points in the game, and neither by more than four in the wild fourth quarter, but the Wildcats put together a 5-1 scoring edge in the game's final 1 minute and 34 seconds to pull away and win 54-51.

The victory lifted Metro League runner-up Westview's record to 20-6, while Southern Oregon Conference co-champion South Medford fell to 22-5.

'It was a big relief,' said Westview senior guard Miles Gatewood, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. 'We knew coming into it it was going to be a tough game, and … we just needed to keep our composure and do what we do in practice.'

'It was a big sigh of relief that we got out with the win,' agreed sophomore wing Dyrall Goods, who added 11 points in the game, including a late three-pointer that gave his team the lead for good. 'We just kept our heads. We knew that if we got the ball at the end of the game we'd come down and win it.'

'I felt confident in my guys the whole time,' added Westview coach Pat Coons. 'I felt confident in their poise. Every time they took the lead, we came back right away.'

It was indeed a 'whichever team has the ball last wins' kind of game.

South Medford took its best shot at the Wildcats early on, getting early three-pointers from Tevyn Mercer and Josh Havird to grab an 11-5 lead with 5:20 to go in the first quarter. Westview answered with a 12-4 run over the final five minutes of the period, though, and led 17-15 at the end of the period thanks to two Austin Kuemper baskets, three points from Gatewood and a Phil Belding three-pointer.

Westview kept rolling in the second, taking its biggest lead of the half at 29-24 when TJ Williams knocked down two foul shots with 1:11 to go in the second quarter. But the Panthers responded in the remaining moments, getting four straight free throws from Mike Brassel to cut the gap to 29-28 at the half.

The Wildcats extended their lead back to five points again in the third quarter, getting back-to-back three-pointers from Gatewood and two Dyrall Goods free throws to make it 37-32 with 3:56 to go in the stanza.

But Westview couldn't extend that margin, turning the ball over four times, missing two free throws and two shots from the floor in the final 3:35, while South Medford got a hoop from Luke DeCoste and a three-point play from Havird to tie the game at 37-37 going into the final period.

Westview knocked down three straight shots early in the fourth quarter - on a fast break by Goods, a jumpshot in the lane by Kuemper, and on a break by Malcolm Jackson assisted by Goods - to push ahead 43-39 with 5:39 left in the game, but the Panthers would no go away.

One minute later, Nick Shanklin-Rice drilled a three-pointer from the left corner, and Havird then scored on back-to-back fast breaks, the first following a Mercer steal, and the second on a lob from Shanklin-Rice to put South ahead 50-49 with 1:59 to go.

But Goods came through on Westview's next possession, taking a Gatewood pass in the right corner and burying a three-pointer with Havird in his face that made it 52-50 with 1:47 remaining. Havird hit one free throw with 1:08 to go, and after Williams missed a foul shot, Gatewood stepped in front of a Brassel pass for a steal, was fouled and knocked down two free throws to seal the win with six seconds left.

Both Goods and Gatewood said they remained confident through the tense final moments of the game.

'I just thought if I got it, I'd put it up because I was feeling confident,' Goods said of his key 'three.' 'When it left my hand, I thought it was going in.'

'I actually felt really calm. I didn't listen to the crowd,' Gatewood said of his two late foul shots. 'I just tried to do my routine and knock it down.'

Kuemper added 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in the win. Havird led all scorers with 17 points and had six rebounds, while Brassel added 12 points, six assists and four steals to offset eight turnovers.