A two-week break from game action allowed Oregon to start the new year fresh and on a roll to start its home game against Badger South Conference rival Stoughton.
The Vikings gradually chipped away at the Panthers’ lead, and eked out a 51-48 victory in overtime Saturday, Jan. 4.
The two teams were knotted at 41 after regulation, but Stoughton scored the first six points of overtime. Oregon (3-5, 1-4 Badger South) did not score in the first three minutes of the extra period, and has now lost five of its last six games.
The Panthers led 29-24 at halftime and opted to slow down their offense significantly in the second half. Guards ran a dribble weave beyond the 3-point arc while looking for driving lanes, but also held the ball for several seconds at a time.
“They’ve been the best defensive team in our league all season,” Oregon coach Chris Siebert said of Stoughton. “With our motion and their length and mobility, we didn’t know if we’d be able to get enough quick buckets. So we tried to space their size out.”
Oregon played without junior point guard Erik Victorson, but sophomore guard Ryne Panzer picked up the slack. Panzer scored the Panthers’ first seven points of the second half, and finished with a team-high 13 points.
“I trusted my teammates,” he said. “We were going to play well together, no matter who was out there.”
Stoughton (8-1, 4-1) came into the game ranked fifth in Division 2 in the WisSports.net Coaches Poll. Guards Adam Hobson and Cael McGee combined for 41 points.
Hobson drilled a 3 from the right wing to tie it at 32, then canned a 3 from the opposite wing with 11 minutes left in regulation to give the Vikings their first lead of the game.
Bryce Kerns swished a 3 from the top of the key to cut Stoughton’s lead to 40-39 with 4:40 left. Ryan McCorkle missed the front end of the bonus with 2:15 left, but Adam Yates made a layup with 58 seconds left to give Oregon a 41-40 lead.
McGee split a pair of free throws 16 seconds later to force overtime.
The Panthers scored on four of their first five possessions, and used a 9-0 run to take a 17-5 lead just eight minutes into the game. Brandon Kerns had corner 3 and putback, Yates converted a bucket through contact and Bryce Kerns made a transition layup during the surge.
“We’ve had a great couple weeks of practice, and our guys were excited to play,” Siebert said. “That was really fun to watch.”
Brandon Kerns scored all 10 of his points in the first half. McCorkle finished with nine points for the Panthers.
The Vikings closed the first half on a 9-2 run. Hobson finished with a game-high 23 points, and McGee had 14 of his 18 points in the first 18 minutes.