Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
North Medford junior standout Tristen Holmes has come up with offensive heroics throughout the season to lead his boys basketball team to victory.
On Friday night, with Holmes somewhat bottled up by visiting Roseburg, the Black Tornado didn't wait for him to break through, it just plowed ahead to prove a point in Southern Oregon Hybrid play.
Led by seniors Aaron Browne-Moore and Julian Gray, North Medford avenged an earlier loss to Roseburg by using a pair of second-half spurts to pull away for a 51-38 victory.
Browne-Moore scored 10 points and had five rebounds while Gray totaled nine points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks in a defensive battle.
For his part, Holmes scored eight points in the second half to finish with 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. The 6-foot-2 guard entered the game averaging 19.5 points and was 1-for-4 from the field in the first half and 5-for-12 overall.
Edmund Polataivao added six points, six rebounds and two steals and Tucker Barry came off the bench to chip in six points for the eighth-ranked Black Tornado.
"I think that shows that our team is a lot deeper than other teams have been thinking we are," Browne-Moore said of North's ability to push forward. "Tristen did show up in the end pretty strong, but it was nice that we had other guys there to help him out."
North Medford (13-5, 6-2 SOH) got at least two baskets from seven players and finished 24-for-53 from the field (45 percent). The Black Tornado used a 12-0 run in the third quarter to build a 39-22 advantage, then withstood an 11-0 answer by Roseburg (6-11, 2-6) with another 8-0 run to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
"That was a stretch of obviously how we would love to play the game," North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn said of the 12-0 surge. "Obviously you can't do that for all the minutes but that was a pretty sight to see. I think we got them to speed up and that's a chore to speed them up."
As pretty as that was, though, the Black Tornado took its foot off the pedal and the Indians took full advantage to answer with a run of their own that made it 39-33 with six minutes to play.
"You can't have that," added Plankenhorn. "You can't go 12-0 and then have them go 11-0 because all of a sudden all that hard work is gone. Luckily we had a lead going into that so that helped us."
It also didn't hurt that Roseburg stumbled through one of its worst shooting nights of the season. The Indians finished 13-for-48 overall (27 percent) and shot a chilly 3-for-21 (14 percent) from 3-point range.
Alex New managed 12 points and Brady Haskett added 10 points to pace Roseburg.
"We had every opportunity we wanted to on the offensive end," said Roseburg head coach Craig Stinnett. "We had great looks, we just didn't make plays ... and they did."
"I think it's just been a little bit of our season this year," Stinnett added of his team's scoring woes. "We play defense to put ourselves in good position and then offensively we just can't get it done."
Some of that inefficiency was due to North Medford's pressure on defense, along with a desire to even the season series with the Indians, who edged the Tornado 47-44 on Jan. 21.
"Everyone had vengeance in our heart because the game at Roseburg was a hard one for us," said Browne-Moore. "We watched the film and knew it was our fault so we came out strong tonight and definitely delivered."
Browne-Moore came up with one of the biggest baskets of the night, halting Roseburg's comeback bid with a rebound basket that pushed North's lead back up to 41-33. The 6-3 post followed that with another inside basket and then added a blocked shot that ultimately led to a turnaround jumper by Holmes for a 45-33 edge. Holmes then added a steal and lay-in to cap the 8-0 run.
"I thought Aaron was big tonight," said Plankenhorn. "He settled for a few too many jump shots but he was a lot more aggressive tonight in the middle against them. I don't even know if he shot two or three times up there the last time against them and tonight he gets 11 shots. That was big for us against their zone to get him a little active in the middle along with his offensive rebounding."
Gray was also critical to his team's success, just missing out on a double-double but still setting the tone with his all-around play.
"I kinda just watched the game film from last week and saw that I was slacking in some categories," said the 6-2 point guard. "The team needs me to pass the ball, rebound and get things going, and that's what I tried to do today."
Senior Jack Powers came off the bench for a couple timely putbacks to go with three rebounds, while Matt Ecker had three rebounds and Brian Bush had four points and three assists for North.
Carson Reid and Jake Stephens each had six points and four boards for Roseburg, with Reid adding three assists and two steals and Tanner Baumgartner coming off the bench for six rebounds and two steals.
ROSEBURG (38) — New 12, Haskett 10, Reid 6, Stephens 6, Baumgartner 2, Knapp 1, Stone 1, Carhart 0. Totals: 13-48 9-11 38.
NORTH MEDFORD (51) — Browne-Moore 10, Holmes 10, Gray 9, Polataivao 6, Barry 6, Bush 4, Powers 4, Wilkins 2, Ecker 0, Carrasco 0. Totals: 24-53 1-5 51.
Roseburg 7 10 11 10 — 38
North Medford 12 12 15 12 — 51
3-point goals — Roseburg 3-21 (New 2, Reid 1), North Medford 2-9 (Barry 1, Gray 1).
JV score — North Medford 63, Roseburg 36.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry