Love dominates, but Harthun leads South Medford to state championship

Panthers' superior depth, shooting topples Lake Oswego 58-54
by: DENISE FARWELL, Kevin Love of Lake Oswego works against Kyle Singler (left) and E.J. Singler during the 6A boys state championship game. South Medford and the Singlers won 58-54.

EUGENE - Kyle Singler might have been South Medford's All-American player this season but Michael Harthun was the team's go-to guy Saturday night as he scored 24 points to lead the Panthers to a 58-54 victory over Lake Oswego in the 6A state championship game.

Singler was in foul trouble for a large portion of the game and also was held in check offensively by Lake Oswego's All-American center Kevin Love. So Harthun picked up the slack by hitting 8 of 13 shots, including a 5-for-5 effort from the three-point line, and he did it with five stitches in his shooting hand.

'He really is a player in big games,' South Medford coach Dennis Murphy said of Harthun. 'I know he was embarrassed by what happened (when cut his hand while punching a mirror earlier in the week), and he wanted to prove to people what a quality player he is…. He makes some shots where you just go, 'wow.' It's like a shot to the heart.'

The Panthers (26-3) held the lead for the final 11:37 of the contest and led by as many as eight points, but they had trouble shaking the Lakers (26-2), who were paced by Love's 37 points and 15 rebounds.

The Panthers, who their first-ever state title, took the lead for good when Singler hit a three-pointer to make it 34-31 with 3:37 left in the third quarter. Harthun then started wielding his dagger when he scored South Medford's next eight points, a burst that included a three-pointer and a trio of free throws when he was fouled on a three-pointer late in the third period.

Love was able to stem the tide for while for the Lakers by scoring all 14 of his team's points in the third stanza. That was part of a run where Love had 24 consecutive points for the Lakers.

Love, who was virtually unstoppable inside, later hit a lay-up trim Lake Oswego's deficit to 47-45 with 4:42 left in the contest.

Then Singler came to life after missing the early part of the fourth quarter when he picked up his fourth foul. When he returned to the game, the Duke-bound star drew a quick foul on Love and hit both free throws. Then, on South Medford's next possession, Singler appeared to travel on a penetration move. Instead, Love was whistled for his fourth foul of the game and Singler canned two more foul shots to give South Medford a 51-45 lead.

'That was terrible but I'm not going to dwell on that,' Love said.

Lake Oswego managed to cut the margin to 55-53 when Love hit a lay-up with 53 seconds left, but the Panthers iced the state title with three free throws from Singler and two by Van Dellenback-Ouellette.

Singler finished the game with 18 points but made only 3 of 9 shots from the field. However, he did hit 11 of 13 free throws.

Love was 14 of 12 from field and 9 of 10 from line.

'I wish we would have hit a couple more free throws and contained Harthun a little more,' Love said. 'But that's just how it is sometimes.'