Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
North Medford senior guard Oshea Bailey went to Oz Fitness on Friday afternoon and worked on his shoulders for an hour or so.
He and his Black Tornado teammates logged a chest day a few hours later, bench-pressing Glencoe 81-28 in their Class 6A state play-in game at North Medford High.
Shaking free from a recent skid and advancing to the first round of the playoffs pumped up North head coach Scott Plankenhorn and his crew.
"When you get into playoff time, play-in game, whatever you want to say, it's do or die," Plankenhorn said. "You go home if you don't win."
The Black Tornado (14-10) did much more than survive against the Crimson Tide (4-21), which finished the season on a 10-game losing streak.
Bailey had 16 points, five steals and five assists as North — which entered the contest having lost six of its last seven games — went off. The Black Tornado built a 17-0 lead in five minutes and owned a 47-8 advantage by halftime. North tormented Glencoe with 10 3-point makes and 30 forced turnovers.
The starters' expeditiousness gave way to contributions from just about everybody, which pleased Plankenhorn.
"We had a lot more engagement with our kids in practice (this week) and a lot more focus," Plankenhorn said. "We haven't been that far off. Obviously losing six out of seven looks like you've been off, but we've got a fairly decent league and teams make you pay when you are not completely involved. That is what's been happening."
For its efforts, the Black Tornado will move on to play in a first-round road playoff contest Tuesday. The squad will likely face Westview, Plankenhorn said. The Wildcats beat North 57-44 in the state semifinals last season, marking the third straight playoff season that Westview was able to top the Black Tornado.
North's Landon Sherbourne chipped in 12 points, Brian Bush 11 points (all in the first half) and Edmund Polataivao nine points. Tristen Holmes added seven points and five assists and Hunter Klug four points and five rebounds.
Junior guard Julian Gray did not play because of back pain, and Plankenhorn said his status is uncertain.
"It felt good knowing that we've been in a slump so it felt good coming out here and winning and getting back on track," Bush said. "We were just all ready to work hard and play how we know we can play. We haven't been doing what we've needed to do and tonight we came out and got the win."
The Black Tornado's smothering defense was key, Bailey said.
"We found ourselves on the defensive end, which is really good because when it comes down to playoffs, it's all about defense," Bailey said. "Everybody can score, but you have to stop the ball also."
North concocted a powerful mix of both on Friday.
The Black Tornado buried five 3s in the first quarter while containing the Crimson Tide to 2 of 8 shooting. The second period was even worse for the visitors, who managed just one field goal and three points. One snapshot of the rout was of Bailey stealing the ball and dishing to Holmes for a bucket, and then stealing the ball the very next play and finding Matt Ecker.
"It was good to see our kids get off to a really good start to show them what we've been doing is getting better and better, and to finish it is huge to keep it stretching the whole game," Plankenhorn said. That's a confidence boost."
GLENCOE (28) — Ward 0, Apeland 6, Duvall 0, Rivera 0, Harlow 10, Ramey 0, Mincemoyer 5, Hopman 1, Petersen 0, Rixie 6, Taylor 0. Totals: 10-36 4-11 28.
NORTH MEDFORD (81) — Bush 11, Klug 4, Bailey 16, Barry 7, Ecker 3, Holmes 7, Polataivao 9, Browne-Moore 5, Powers 0, Knox 2, Reyes 5, Sherbourne 12. Totals: 32-62 7-12 81.
Glencoe 5 3 13 7 — 28
North Medford 24 23 15 19 — 81
3-point goals — Glencoe 4 (Apeland 2, Harlow 2), North Medford 10 (Bush 3, Bailey 3, Barry 1, Reyes 1, Sherbourne 2). Technical foul — Knox.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org