Axemen stun North at the buzzer

EUGENE — North Medford had reason to believe it had been through this before: take a lead with seconds to play in a boys basketball game at South Eugene, only to see the Axemen come back with a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer at the other end.

It happened last season, then it happened last night.

Sam Jacobs made a 23-foot basket as time ran out Thursday to give South Eugene the Southwest Conference triumph it needed to vault into the state playoffs, 83-82.

"Some of the kids were saying, 'Oh no, not again,'" said North coach Scott Plankenhorn. "We were just trying to play good defense and force the hardest possible shot without fouling. We were right on him with two hands up, but there's some kind of special thing going on up there against us. For some reason, the ball goes right through the net."

The outcome didn't have an impact on North's postseason position. It finished the regular season in second place at 12-3 in the SWC, 19-6 overall. The Axemen (12-14, 6-9) edged Grants Pass for the fourth and final conference playoff berth.

The fifth-ranked Tornado hosts a first-round state playoff game Wednesday against Clackamas, the No. 3 team from the Three Rivers League.

Last season here, North took a one-point lead with six seconds left, but Cameron Marshall made a 3-pointer to win it for South Eugene, 72-70.

On this night, Danny Berger drained a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play to pull North into an 80-all deadlock. As South Eugene raced up court on the ensuing possession, the Tornado flicked the ball away for a steal and Michael Williams was fouled with five seconds to play.

He made two foul shots — capping a 19-for-19 team effort at the line, the second time this season North has accomplished perfection.

Then Jacobs retaliated at the other end, bringing to an end a terrific high school game and overshadowing a 37-point effort by 6-foot-8 teammate John Hayward-Mayhew.

"It was another good offensive night by both teams," said Plankenhorn, who got double-figure scoring from four players. "We both ran good stuff and made a lot of big shots. If you were a fan, you really liked the game. If you were a South Eugene fan, you really, really liked the game. If you were a North Medford fan, you appreciated the game but you didn't like how it ended."

Jordan Ellis scored 20 points for the Tornado. Williams had 16, to go with six assists and three steals. Berger had 14 points and six assists, and Josh Pecktol scored 14.

North fell behind by 15 points in the first half as the Axeman came out playing for their playoff lives. But a 3-pointer by Berger, who made three from behind the arc, pulled North within 36-33 at halftime.

The teams then combined for 97 points in a rapid-fire second half.

The Tornado had six players contribute to the stellar night at the line. Berger made five and Ellis and Williams four each. In a game last month against Grants Pass, North was 22 of 22 at the stripe.

"We shoot the ball pretty good," said Plankenhorn, "but going perfect is pretty amazing, especially in someone else's building."

NORTH MEDFORD (82) — McLemore 8, Williams 16, Ellis 20, Pecktol 14, Berger 14, Barlow 0, Waldron 2, Budavari-Jasper 6, Maurer 2. Totals: 28 19-19 82.

SOUTH EUGENE (83) — Lapite 3, T. Rooke-Ley 0, A. Coleman 6, Masterson 0, Jacobs 12, Risinger 4, H. Rooke-Ley 0, Trachtenberg 7, Lokombo 0, S. Coleman 9, Brown 5, Hayward-Mayhew 37. Totals: 29 20-35 83.

North Medford 15 18 24 25 — 82

South Eugene 24 12 23 24 — 83

3-point goals — North Medford 7 (McLemore 2, Ellis 2, Berger 3), South Eugene 5 (Jacobs 4, Brown 1). Fouled out — Maurer, Pecktol.

JV score — South Eugene 78, North Medford 66.

SHELDON 75, ROSEBURG 46 — At Roseburg, Trevor Clemo and Billy Pinz combined for 27 points to lead Sheldon, which jumped out to a 24-9, first-quarter lead and never looked back.

Sheldon (10-14, 7-8 SWC) advances to the Class 6A state playoffs as the SWC No. 3 seed, while Roseburg (7-17, 3-12) finishes the season in the league cellar.

SHELDON (75) — Clemo 16, Pinz 14, Higgins 13, Davis 8, Garcia 8, Reynolds 5, White 5, Wellman 4, Todd 2. Totals: 28-45 14-19 75.

ROSEBURG (46) — Hancock 10, Whitman 9, Cavens 8, B. Johnson 6, J.Johnson 4, LaBranche 3, Preistley 2, Sherriff 2, M. Huff 2, S. Huff 0. Totals: 17-47 9-12 46.

Sheldon 24 16 20 15 — 75

Roseburg 9 10 15 12 — 46

3-point goals — Sheldon 5-9 (Pinz 4, Higgins 1), Roseburg 3-15 (Hancock 2, LaBranche 1).

JV result — Sheldon won.

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