MEDFORD, Ore. – Friday night could be the biggest regular season game in South Medford girls basketball history. That’s because the #1 Panthers host the top team in the 5A, Springfield. The Millers have won back to back state titles, thanks mainly to their star center, Mercedes Russell. Russell is the top ranked high school player in the country, according to ESPN. The 6’6 senior provides a tough match up for any team the Millers play.
“‘There’s very few 6’6 boys who are in this area,” said South Medford head coach Tom Cole, “and very few that have the talent she has too so she’s special and what we have tried to focus on is what we do and improve some of the weaknesses we have defensively that we think will help us get success no matter who we play.”
The Panthers and Millers played last year, with South getting a four point win. Then-sophomore Ashley Bolston defended Russell for a lot of that game, with center Tess Picknell in foul trouble. Bolston said she’s ready for that defensive assignment once again.
“‘It didn’t really bother me last year,” said Bolston. “I just pressured her up top and Tess was there to help me on the back side but I think we’ll adjust this year so I’ll have help anyways.”