There were no big scoring surges or any game-turning defensive stands for North Medford’s boys basketball team Saturday in the fourth-place final of the 29th Abby’s Holiday Classic.
There was, however, a chance to prove the Black Tornado can withstand the heat of a back-and-forth battle, and North Medford took a big step with a hard-fought 65-60 triumph over McNary at South Medford High.
Senior 6-foot guard Jaray Thomas paced four Tornado players in double figures with 15 points and played a key role in helping his team counter every challenge the Celtics threw at them to finish 2-1 in the eight-team tournament.
“It was really big because we’re going to need that later on for the season,” said Thomas, who also had six assists. “We just need to get together and play hard every game.”
Senior Darrius Wells scored 11 points while senior Garrett Parker and junior Jett Carpenter each added 10 points for the Black Tornado. Parker also pulled down four boards with an assist and Carpenter added three rebounds and two assists
North Medford (6-5) put a big emphasis on turning up its defensive intensity and carrying more of an attacking mentality on the offensive end entering Saturday’s showdown and, for the most part, fared well in both areas against a quality team in McNary (6-3).
“For the most part I thought we played really well,” said Tornado head coach Scott Plankenhorn. “That’s a sound (McNary) basketball team with some solid guards and a beast of a post guy inside, and obviously we didn’t have Eli (Spence) to contend with that.
“I thought our guys fought really hard and we executed some things and made some shots; we just leave a lot on the table that we could do better. Obviously, there’s a lot of high school teams probably saying the same thing but, man, it will sure be fun the day we put it all together.”
Spence, a 6-5 post, is on vacation.
Wells, a 5-9 point guard, scored eight of his 11 points in the first quarter to shoulder the load for a slow-starting North squad, but a second unit, with sophomore Landon Ellis setting the tone, did well to invigorate the Tornado’s hopes.
The 5-10 Ellis came off the bench for consecutive steals on McNary’s opening possessions of the second quarter and created an energy that helped spur North Medford to a 30-27 lead by halftime. Fellow sophomore Nick Karrick also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers off the bench.
When the starters returned with a 19-18 lead, they kept up the pace as Thomas scored seven of his points in the final three minutes of the frame.
“They played hard and scored a lot actually against their starters and really kept us going,” said Thomas of North’s second unit.
Overall, the Black Tornado got 19 points from its reserve group and a solid defensive presence. Plankenhorn said that kind of impact bodes well for his team’s continued growth as it approaches the Southwest Conference season.
“That’s the big thing that we’ve had, we played nine guys and everybody contributed on that floor at least something,” he said. “The starters played great, and when you’ve got that next group that can come in and give three or four minutes and not lose anything and maybe even energize your team is great. Then the other guys step back on the floor with some energy knowing that they’ve got to go finish now.”
With better offensive execution, North Medford was able to match McNary on the offensive end throughout the third quarter to maintain its slight advantage, then had a key stretch in the fourth quarter that included a three-point play by Ellis, inside basket by Carpenter and 3-pointer by Thomas to build a 54-46 cushion.
The Celtics got 21 points from Griffin Oliveira and 16 from 6-7 post Boston Smith to constantly keep the pressure on, but McNary could never get over the hump as North executed its press break to perfection for transition layups by Parker and Carpenter off Thomas assists to hold serve.
With a nonleague date looming at Lake Oswego on Friday before North turns its attention to the SWC, Thomas echoed Plankenhorn’s statement that the Black Tornado isn’t where it wants to be just yet but is making strides.
“We’ll get there soon, this is just the start of it,” said Thomas.
The all-tournament team included Guy Littlefield of Forest Grove, Cameron Parks of North Eugene, Justin Scoggin of West Salem and Roseburg’s Storm Scott and Collin Warmouth.
WEST ALBANY 67, SOUTH MEDFORD 53: West Albany secured its first win of the season in the consolation matchup, taking advantage of three player technical fouls by South Medford to win going away.
TJ Zimmerman had 18 points, Luke Killinger added 17 and Channon Schuerger chipped in with 12 for the Bulldogs (1-9), who broke the game open with a 19-10 surge in the second quarter and staved off the Panthers from that point on.
Senior Giovanni Bottero and junior Ben Harmon each scored 11 points to pace South Medford (1-11).
FOREST GROVE 59, NORTH EUGENE 35: Forest Grove used a 17-2 surge in the second quarter to take control and cruise to victory in the third-place final, with Adison Emerick draining four of his five 3-pointers in the first half to key the Vikings.
Emerick finished with 19 points, Ayden Purcell scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Henry Tonges added 11 points for Forest Grove (10-1).
Cameron Parks had 10 points and Iry Rankin nine for North Eugene (3-7).
WEST SALEM 74, ROSEBURG 58: West Salem junior Justin Scoggin scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half to build a 19-point halftime cushion as the Titans earned their first Abby’s Holiday Classic title. It was the event’s first championship final without a Medford school since 2013.
Holden Whipple knocked down three 3-pointers in each half to finish with 20 points for West Salem (6-4).
Roseburg leading scorer Collin Warmouth was limited to seven points in the first half but tallied 19 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 33. Storm Scott added 11 points for the Indians (9-2).
NORTH MEDFORD (65): Thomas 15, Wells 11, Carpenter 10, Parker 10, Karrick 6, Ellis 6, Orozco-Bernal 5, Conrad 2, Angulo 0. Totals: 23-47 12-22 65.
MCNARY (60): Oliveira 21, Smith 16, Meithof 9, Villareal 9, O’Connor 3, Hudkins 2, Ochoa 0, Lyda 0, Flores 0. Totals: 23-43 9-13 60.
North Medford11191421— 65
3-point goals — North Medford 7-23 (Wells 2, Thomas 2, Karrick 2, Parker 1), McNary 5-15 (Oliveira 3, Meithof 1, Villareal 1).
WEST ALBANY (67): Zimmerman 18, Killinger 17, Schuerger 12, Ruiz 9, Stanaway 9, Madsen 2, Timm 0, Mills 0. Totals: 25 15-22 67.
SOUTH MEDFORD (53): Bottero 11, Harmon 11, Losinski 7, Hunter 7, Sleezer 6, Shepard 5, Pannell 4, Ramsay 2, DeBoer 0, Smith 0, Townley 0. Totals: 18 13-17 53.
West Albany13191520— 67
South Medford13101416— 53
3-point goals — West Albany 2 (Schuerger 1, Stanaway 1), South Medford 4 (Hunter 1, Shepard 1, Bottero 1, Harmon 1). Fouled out — Ramsay. Technical fouls — Shepard, Hunter, Losinski.