Most basketball teams wouldn’t want to have only a few hours to digest a tough loss before having to step back on the court.
For North Medford, it’s safe to say the Black Tornado was champing at the bit when it came to Friday’s consolation semifinal against West Albany in the 29th Abby’s Holiday Classic at South Medford High.
North Medford scored the first 16 points of the game and the outcome was never in doubt as it cruised to an 82-57 triumph over the Bulldogs about 16 hours after a lackluster showing in a 61-53 home loss to Forest Grove.
“We just wanted to come back from last night’s loss and make sure we made our mark today,” said Black Tornado senior Garrett Parker, who scored a game-high 21 points.
“We came out strong and with good energy coming in,” he added. “It kind of got lost but we kept strong and came out with the win.”
North Medford (5-5) will look to turn it up another notch at 1:45 p.m. today in the fourth-place final against McNary, which beat South Medford 55-48 Friday.
West Albany (0-9) will meet the Panthers in another consolation game at noon at South Medford High.
Today’s 5:15 p.m. championship final will pit West Salem against Roseburg after the West Salem had no trouble in a 62-37 win over Forest Grove and Roseburg held off North Eugene, 59-54. Forest Grove and North Eugene will play for third place at 3:30 p.m.
Playing for fourth place isn’t exactly what North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn had in mind for his team after coming into the tournament as its four-time defending champion and fresh off a winning run at the Lakeside Tournament in Lake Oswego.
Still, all that really mattered was how his team rebounded from Thursday’s setback, and all signs were positive as the Black Tornado opened a 19-4 advantage through one quarter on West Albany.
“The execution and the extra pass on offense, I saw that multiple times today and that was good,” said Plankenhorn, whose team was 29-for-52 from the field (56 percent) and 10-for-14 from 3-point range (71 percent).
“We went the extra one and guess what the ball did? It went through the basket,” he added. “It’s a simple game, really. If you move the ball to each other and then the open guy shoots the basketball when it feels right and it’s the right one, it goes in more often than not.”
That certainly was the case in the first quarter, with North Medford going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc behind three makes by Parker. The 6-foot-6 senior looked for his shot more Friday and his teammates had a knack of finding him in good spots to help set the tone early.
“He’s been slowly starting to look for his shot more and we’ve been talking to guys about getting him the ball,” said Plankenhorn of Parker. “When he does the longer range things and intermediate range stuff, he’s a hard guard. He’s 6-6 and he can shoot and he can drive and he can post, so if he can get the outside game going it makes everything hard to guard.”
North Medford seniors Jaray Thomas (18 points) and Darrius Wells (13 points) and junior Victor Orozco-Bernal (11 points) also reaped the rewards of better offensive ball movement and play selection, while junior Jett Carpenter added nine points, five rebounds and two assists.
The only real teaching moment for North Medford came after that first quarter, when it seemed to let up on the defensive intensity and essentially matched baskets with West Albany until a 9-0 game-ending run.
“Early on I saw what I wanted to see,” said Plankenhorn, “but then we just deflated and just played the rest of the game out instead of playing 32 minutes. It’s a long haul to play good teams for 32 minutes. We played a great five minutes and then kind of played that cushion the rest of the way out. I don’t think we gained a point for 20 minutes.”
Sophomore TJ Zimmerman helped spearhead the charge by West Albany with 18 points and six rebounds off the bench, while sophomore Luke Killinger added 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Koby Ruiz had eight points, four rebounds and four assists and Austin Stanaway added eight points and three assists.
“You have to give props to West Albany, they came out and started playing harder,” said Plankenhorn. “They showed up and played a little harder and we didn’t react to that with another jolt of energy, and that is a problem that we’ve got to get over the hump there.”
“I thought we got a little bit from everybody and that was good,” he added, “it just wasn’t the full 32 (minutes) that I was wanting from an energy level. It wasn’t poor play, it was just the defensive energy went away. Offensively we were fine, the energy on the defensive end just fell off after the first eight minutes.”
WEST SALEM 62, FOREST GROVE 37: West Salem junior Justin Scoggin scored 12 of his 21 points in a first half that saw the Titans build a 34-17 lead by halftime in the championship semifinals.
Sophomore Jackson Lowery added 10 points and junior Austin Galberth scored all eight of his points in the first half for the Titans (5-4).
Forest Grove junior standout Guy Littlefield was held to nine points while senior Ayden Purcell had 10 points on an off shooting night by the Vikings (9-1).
ROSEBURG 59, NORTH EUGENE 54: Roseburg senior Collin Warmouth poured in 21 points while senior Storm Scott added 20 to shoulder the load in a championship final comeback.
North Eugene (3-6) outscored the Indians (9-1) 23-9 in the second quarter to go up by eight points at the break, only to see Roseburg return the favor with a 24-12 edge in the third quarter.
Iry Rankin had five 3-pointers and 22 points, while Cameron Parks added 15 points for the Highlanders.
WEST ALBANY (57): Ruiz 8, Madsen 5, Killinger 12, Timm 4, Schuerger 2, Stanaway 8, Mills 0, Zimmerman 18. Totals: 22-41 9-16 57.
NORTH MEDFORD (82): Wells 13, Conrad 0, Hurley 0, Ellis 6, Thomas 18, Carpenter 9, Angulo 2, Orozco-Bernal 11, Parker 21, Karrick 2. Totals: 29-52 14-18 82.
West Albany4172214— 57
North Medford19182025— 82
3-point goals — West Albany 4-10 (Killinger 1, Stanaway 2, Zimmerman 1), North Medford 10-14 (Wells 2, Thomas 2, Carpenter 1, Parker 3, Orozco-Bernal 2).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry