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North Medford junior point guard Oshea Bailey has rightfully taken a backseat to his team's four senior starters through most of the season, but there was just something about the atmosphere in the Black Tornado gym that led him to dial it up a notch on Saturday.
Wheeling and dealing like a veteran at the helm, Bailey provided an instant splash with nine first-quarter points and carried that confident air throughout the game against Tigard to help North Medford secure a runaway 61-47 victory in the second round of the Class 6A boys basketball state playoffs.
Bailey, in his first year as a starter, finished with a game-high 19 points to go with four assists as the Black Tornado secured a second straight trip to the eight-team state tournament, beginning Thursday at the Rose Garden in Portland. North Medford (22-3) will open up at 3:15 p.m. in the quarterfinals against familiar foe South Medford, which was an 87-71 winner over North Salem on Saturday.
"Oshea's been really patient with the seniors and letting them do their thing," said North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn, whose team placed fifth at state last year, "but today he wasn't waiting around for people. He just said it's my time and I'm going to take over. Sometimes he was telling me what to do and that's a good thing as a point guard, it's a good rapport back and forth on what we want to run and what we want to do. I can't say enough about what he did tonight."
North Medford seniors Derek Mautz, Jordan Browne-Moore and Trey Garfas opened the scoring for the Black Tornado, but it was Bailey who closed the door on the visiting Tigers early on with his nine straight points to close out the first quarter and give North a 15-6 advantage.
"Oshea had a great night tonight," said Browne-Moore. "He was unreal."
The 6-foot Bailey converted a pair of drives to the basket, then got a second chance at a 3-pointer thanks to Browne-Moore's hustle and capped it all off with a pure jumper from the top of the key.
"I've been pretty confident all week and just getting better and better, I think," said Bailey. "I just got those first couple layups and that really got me going with confidence, and then I hit that 3 and then I was just like, 'That's it.' I felt like it was my night."
Several North Medford players could have laid claim to that feeling on Saturday.
If Bailey wasn't the early hero for the Tornado, the next best choice would have been Browne-Moore, who would not be denied in cleaning up the glass and working hard down low. The 6-3 senior pulled down five rebounds and had two steals in the first quarter alone and finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
"I was just thinking about how much it means to us," Browne-Moore said of his motivation entering Saturday's game. "Every time we get a game further it just means more to us. I didn't want to go home right now, and I really want to bring this high school a trophy back (from Portland)."
Mautz added 11 points and senior Chris Faust had nine points and six rebounds to complement Bailey and Browne-Moore, but North Medford also received another unlikely spark in the second quarter with the emergence of 6-7 junior reserve Brandon DeBerry. The little-used post came in with his team already up 25-10 with 3:45 to go in the second quarter and notched a pair of blocked shots and two inside baskets to bring the Tornado crowd to a frenzy.
"He's a sleeper, I'll tell you what," Browne-Moore said with a laugh. "He does that exact same thing in practice. I'm just glad he brought it to a game sometime."
The Black Tornado used some of that momentum to build a 33-18 lead by intermission, but Tigard (17-7) scrambled back in the third quarter to trail only by seven points with 40 seconds to go after capitalizing on North's turnovers and errant shot attempts.
"We talked about that first four or five minutes have got to be huge for us but, again, we kinda struggled through it," said Plankenhorn. "But our defense has been so sound that even though we were struggling to score, we weren't giving up a million points."
With Tigard threatening to mount a comeback, Mautz stepped up big with a clutch 3-pointer that ended the third quarter and put the Tornado back up by double digits at 43-33.
"That was a monster shot," said Plankenhorn. "He shook 'em up and pulled the 3, it was beautiful. ... Special kids make special plays and it's not about the coaching."
From that point on, North Medford played more efficient on offense and converted 10 of 12 foul shots in the final frame to secure the victory.
Tigard managed to shoot 19-for-44 from the field after only going 6-for-17 in the first half. The Tigers committed 14 turnovers, while North had 13 of its 18 turnovers in the second half. Junior post Sam Stelk paced Tigard with 15 points and five rebounds.
"Give them a lot of credit, their pressure really bothered us and got us out of sorts to where we did not look like a very good offensive team," said Tigard head coach Shawn Alderman. "We actually are, but it was due to their ball pressure."
"They also do a heckuva job crashing the boards," he added. "We thought that that was going to be a factor tonight and it was. We got killed on the boards and gave them second chances. It just wasn't our night, but that's due to them playing really well and really hard."
And because of that, North now gets one more week to play together.
"It's just going to feel great," Browne-Moore said of another trip to the Rose Garden. "There's going to be a lot of deja vu even with new people but it's going to be an unbelievable feeling stepping on that Trail Blazer court knowing you've got energy and you're playing for something big."
TIGARD (47) — Stelk 15, Gray 9, Kelsey 9, Garrison 8, Mackenzie 3, Olson 3, Moore 0, Kaelin 0, Chabreck 0, Leonard 0, Volstedt 0, Schaer 0. Totals: 19-44 7-12 47.
NORTH MEDFORD (61) — Bailey 19, Mautz 11, J. Browne-Moore 11, Faust 9, Winans 5, DeBerry 4, Garfas 2, Gray 0, Parker 0, Whitaker 0, Egge 0, Knox 0. Totals: 22-44 15-18 61.
Tigard 6 12 15 14 — 47
North Medford 15 18 10 18 — 61
3-point goals — Tigard 2-12 (Kelsey 1, Olson 1), North Medford 2-8 (Bailey 1, Mautz 1). Technical foul — Stelk.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry