North Medford demands a frenetic pace.
Usually, that's to the detriment of its boys basketball opponents, but occasionally, it can steer the Black Tornado into ragtag play.
That happened in the first round of the Abby's Holiday Classic Tuesday at North Medford. Granted, the Tornado defeated Sprague, of Salem, 59-46, keeping its unbeaten record intact at 7-0 while enjoying its first home game of the season.
North did it the usual way, using all 10 players, pressing relentlessly and forcing turnovers — 32, to be exact.
But when it took the ball, it often raced to the other end and itself was out of control, taking wild shots or making ill advised passes.
"I don't think we played very well offensively," said Tornado coach Scott Plankenhorn. "We got enough defense leading to offensive baskets that helped us win this game."
But that's not the only dimension he wants his team to play.
"We've been drifting in that direction even though we've been winning games," said Plankenhorn. "We just had a little talk about how we've got to clean it up. And if we do that, we should be good."
North takes on Redmond, a 50-38 winner over South Eugene, at 6 p.m. today in a semifinal game at South Medford High. Sprague (5-4) plays South Eugene at 3 p.m.
All games today and Thursday in the 21st annual, eight-team tournament are at South.
The Tornado scored the first 10 points of the second quarter to go up 19-8.
It led 27-18 at halftime but lost the momentum to start the second half when Sprague went on an 8-2 run.
"We're definitely a spurt team," said Plankenhorn, "and we hit our spurts again tonight, a couple of big ones. But we've got to get out of that, where we have one big spurt, then go away for five minutes."
The biggest spurt came midway through the third quarter. After Sprague pulled to within 32-30, North — with bodies flying, arms flailing and feet darting and screeching — suffocated the Olympians into submission.
The host scored 17 of the next 19 points for a 49-32 edge with five minutes remaining.
After two free throws by reserve Trey Garfas started the stretch, another sub, Jarrett Artale punctuated it.
The senior guard took a pass from Jordan Browne-Moore, who came up with a steal, and drained a 3-pointer from the right wing off the fastbreak. The next trip down, Artale made a 3 from the top of the key.
He then intercepted a pass, raced upcourt and might have gone for a third straight trey, but instead pulled the ball out for the last shot of the third. It led to two free throws by Michael McEwen, giving the Tornado a 42-32 edge.
Marcus Ellis and Jared Knox scored North's next nine points to open the fourth.
"I was feeling good, like in warm-ups and stuff," said Artale, who had nine points. "I felt like I was shooting good, so coach told me to go in there and don't be shy, be aggressive and take good shots."
Sprague got no closer than 12 after the Tornado's big surge.
"Once they got it back to eight," said Olys coach B.J. Dobrkovsky, "our kids were out there and, how much more effort do they have?"
Dobrkovsky knew the North players would come in droves.
"I knew it could go either of two ways," he said. "We could either dice their pressure and have a good, fun time, or we'd be a little bit frustrated and have a hard time with their pressure. It was a good learning experience for us, but you've got to hand it to them for kicking our tail."
Derek Mautz, another reserve, led the Tornado with 14 points. Browne-Moore matched Artale's nine points.
Ellis led the way three steals.
For Sprague, Greg Ellis scored 11 and Kyle McNally 10.
SPRAGUE (46) — Triance 7, McNally 10, Gage 5, Foote 4, Lapray 6, Kim 0, Brotton 0, O'Connell 3, Long 0, Ellis 11, Willman 0, Silberman 0. Totals: 18-33 8-9 46.
NORTH MEDFORD (59) — Ellis 5, Knox 6, Osmanski 3, Takahashi 0, Artale 9, Browne-Moore 9, Mautz 14, Bailey 0, McEwen 2, Howitt 2, Parker 0, Faust 5, Garfas 4. Totals: 22-49 11-17 59.
Sprague 8 10 14 14 — 46
North Medford 9 18 15 17 — 59
3-point goals — Sprague 2-6 (Triance 1, O'Connell 1), North Medford 4-14 (Artale 3, Mautz 1).
REDMOND 50, SOUTH EUGENE 38 — Redmond took control of the game with a 16-4 run in the third quarter over South Eugene at the Abby's Holiday Classic.
Senior posts Brad Carter and Mitch Dahlen scored 19 and 10 points, respectively, to lead the Panthers.
REDMOND (50) — Carter 19, Ma. Dahlen 3, Lau4, Mi. Dahlen 10, Gerdes 3, Pies 5, Genz 2, Manselle 4, Larkin 0. Totals: 14 21-34 50.
SOUTH EUGENE (38) — Ramsey 4, VanderKley 0, Craig 0, Wile 0, Barnes 2, Dunlap 2, Honn 7, Ausland 2, Banks 2, Thompson 3, Wells 12. Totals: 12 14-25 38.
Redmond 9 12 16 13 — 50
South Eugene 10 11 4 13 —38
3-points goals — Redmond 1 (Pies 1).
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tornado defense grinds up Olys
North Medford demands a frenetic pace.