It's becoming a habit North Medford wants to break.

It's becoming a habit North Medford wants to break.

For the third straight year, the Black Tornado has lost a Southwest Conference boys basketball game in the waning moments at South Eugene.

This time, senior point guard Alex Burgdorfer sank the winning basket as the Axemen defeated North Medford 67-65 in the "purple pit" at South Eugene High School Thursday.

The South Eugene victory breaks a third-place tie in the SWC with North Medford. The Black Tornado (17-6, 9-6 SWC) advances to the Class 6A state playoffs as the conference's No. 4 seed.

On Tuesday, North plays at fifth-ranked Westview, the Metro League runner-up, while South Eugene (14-10, 10-5 SWC) visits Canby, the third-place team from the Pacific League.

"They've beaten us three times in three years on buzzer-beaters up there," North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn said. "It's getting kind of hard to go up there."

"It was a well played game by both teams," added the coach. "It was competitive from the outset."

After two free throws by North Medford's Michael Levos tied the game 65-all with 10 seconds remaining, Burgdorfer got the ball, dribbled up court and hit a running floater in the lane for the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left. North could not get off a shot with the final possession.

"We pressed full court to keep the ball out of the hands of (Spencer) Coleman and (Hayden) Rooke-Ley," explained Plankenhorn about the winning play. "Burgdorfer shot it under pressure in the middle of the lane and what do you know it went in. It was a great play and a tough shot. We did what we wanted to do on the play."

David Formolo forced a South Eugene turnover with a timely interception with 34 seconds left and North trailing by two.

"We were pressing and trying not to foul," said Plankenhorn. "Formolo made a steal on a cross court pass."

With the Axemen defenders concentrating on stopping Jordan Ellis and Josh Pecktol, Matt Maurer found Levos on a back cut near the basket and the junior post was fouled on the play.

"Levos is our best free throw shooter on the team," said Plankenhorn. "But he's a junior and has never been in a situation like that. It's great to see he stepped up and made those pressure free throws."

Ellis led North Medford with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists. The senior guard was 9 of 16 from the field. Pecktol added 17 points and four rebounds.

But North had no answer for South Eugene's 6-5 junior wing Spencer Coleman, who scored 25 points.

The Axemen also outrebounded the Black Tornado, 29-18.

"They made runs and we made runs," said Plankenhorn. "But they had the ball last. You just shake their hands and say 'good game' and hope it doesn't happen often to you."

Unfortunately for North Medford, it's happened three times too many.

NORTH MEDFORD (65) — Maurer 2, Faust 0, Ellis 26, Pecktol 17, Borg 10, Shipley 2, Levos 4, Formolo 4. Totals: 20-46 15-15 67.

SOUTH EUGENE (67) — Lapite 0, Burgdorfer 6, Marshall 0, VanderKley 3, Jacobs 6, Craig 0, Rooke-Ley 17, McNulty 6, Ofner 4, Coleman 25, Lindsey 0. Totals: 24-46 13-13 67.

North Medford 22 15 13 15 — 65

South Eugene 19 16 21 11 — 67

3-point goals — North Medford 8-21 (Ellis 5, Pecktol 1, Borg 2), South Eugene 6-9 (Coleman 3, Rooke-Ley 2, VanderKley 1).

JV score — South Eugene 60, North Medford 56.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail fsilow@mailtribune.com