Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
Get the ball to Oshea and get out of the way.
That's not an official play in North Medford's repertoire but it sure seems to pay off time and again for the Black Tornado boys basketball team.
With a chance at drawing back into the Southern Oregon Hybrid title chase with a home victory against 10th-ranked Roseburg, North Medford senior Oshea Bailey did just that for his team by drawing a foul and converting a free throw with three-tenths of a second to play to give the Black Tornado a 39-38 win on Tuesday.
It was Bailey's third free throw in the final 46 seconds and supplied an answer to a clutch 3-pointer by Roseburg 6-foot-7 senior Andrew Weber that tied the game at 38-all with 10 seconds to go.
"I've been working on my free throws a lot since that South Medford game (last Friday) when I missed them so it worked out for me tonight," said Bailey, who finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Tuesday's loss was the first in SOH play for Roseburg, which dropped to 11-3 overall and 3-1 in the SOH, and allowed North Medford to finish the first rotation of the SOH schedule at 2-2 in conference and 10-4 overall.
The Black Tornado led 36-35 with two minutes to play in a physical, back-and-forth battle that saw each team force a turnover on the ensuing possessions. With 52.5 seconds left, Roseburg opted to commit a pair of fouls to finally force North Medford into a one-and-one situation on the foul line.
Bailey calmly made two free throws to push the Tornado's lead to 38-35 with 46 seconds to go, then it became a tug-of-war as North worked to deny Roseburg's sets for a game-tying 3-pointer. After Kai Seely missed a shot from beyond the arc, Weber grabbed a rebound and Indians head coach Craig Stinnett called for a timeout with 32.2 second to play.
Once back on the court, North was able to thwart Roseburg's first two options on the set play but Weber found an opening on the right baseline and was pure from 3-point range.
With time ticking away, North Medford sophomore Tristen Holmes took the ball up the left side of the court and threw back across to Bailey near midcourt as teammate Julian Gray hovered only a few feet to his right. Bailey instantly turned the corner on his defender and drove down the left side of the lane, forcing Weber to come off the man he was guarding for a challenge that resulted in a blocking call in the waning second.
"I looked at (North head coach Scott Plankenhorn) and he was pointing at me kinda wide-eyed and so I was like, I need to get the ball," Bailey said of the frantic finish. "Once I got it, it kinda worked in our favor because they had all three of their guys up with us so I just had to beat my guy and there was no one there until he stepped in late."
For his part, Plankenhorn said there was no doubt he was going to let the final 10 seconds play out with the ball in Bailey's hands, with either a win or a trip to overtime as the only options.
"I wasn't about to call a timeout," said the coach. "I was just trying to get everybody to get the ball to 'O' and get out of the way and let him see if he can win it. He did a good job of making contact and making the ref have to call it."
Gray finished with eight points and three steals to help North Medford, while Holmes had six points, seven rebounds and two steals, Aaron Browne-Moore had six points and six rebounds and Garrett Knox added six points and two rebounds.
Alex Johnson scored 10 points and pulled down four boards to lead Roseburg, with Weber adding nine points, five blocks and four rebounds and Seely scoring nine points.
Neither team was terribly efficient, with Roseburg turning the ball over 20 times and North Medford committing 18 turnovers. The Indians were 17-for-36 from the field (47 percent) and the Tornado was 17-for-43 (40 percent) but each of the baskets had to be earned thanks to stout defense on both ends.
"Offensively that's about as bad as we can struggle in the game," said Stinnett. "We turned the ball over a bazillion times and we just made a bunch of critical mental errors throughout the entire game so it should never have come down to that (final free throw). We put ourselves in a position to win but we let their guard go by us and it creates a mismatch situation where you've got to shift over and they called a foul. It is what it is, the kid hits a free throw and that's it."
For North Medford, it turned into a game of survival down the stretch after leading 18-11 at halftime and 32-27 entering the fourth quarter.
"It was a grind-fest," said Plankenhorn. "That's how they want to play and it's hard to get them out of it. They did a great job of making us play half-court and not giving us many transition baskets."
The energy supplied early by Gray and Holmes helped shoulder the load, while North Medford got another strong effort in the post from Browne-Moore and Knox, who was a late insertion into the starting lineup when 6-7 post Brandon DeBerry was unable to play due to a hamstring injury.
"For a guy that found out 10 minutes before gametime he has to start and to play like he did was great," Plankenhorn said of Knox. "I thought he played really sound defense and he makes three baskets with good solid post moves. And Aaron Browne-Moore's defense again was outrageous tonight. I thought he came and brought energy and a helping effort that we haven't seen in a long time from this group, and that's why 38 points are on the board."
ROSEBURG (38) — A. Johnson 10, Weber 9, Seely 9, Lent 6, Reid 2, Caylor 2, Groshong 0, Haskett 0, S. Johnson 0, Stiefel 0. Totals: 17-36 2-4 38.
NORTH MEDFORD (39) — Bailey 10, Gray 8, Browne-Moore 6, Holmes 6, Knox 6, Sherbourne 3, Klut 0, Reyes 0. Totals: 17-43 4-5 39.
Roseburg 8 3 16 11 — 38
North Medford 8 10 14 7 — 39
3-point goals — Roseburg 2-11 (Seely 1, Weber 1), North Medford 1-8 (Sherbourne 1).
JV score — Roseburg 59, North Medford 52.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry