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North takes aim at first state trophy

Greg Stiles

PORTLAND -- Neither North Medford nor Jefferson wanted to see their season end Friday morning.

But when push came to shove -- and boy there was a lot of that going on -- the sixth-ranked Black Tornado overcame poor shooting and managed to pull itself together for one decisive 13-point run.

The surge secured a 57-41 consolation victory in the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament and assured the Tornado (24-4), the Southern Oregon Conference runner-up, its first state tournament trophy.

North plays for fifth place at 12:30 p.m. today in the consolation final against No. — Westview (26-2), a 73-59 victor over No. 9 Lakeridge.

It's tough coming out here at 9 o'clock in the morning, said Milt Adams, coach of Jefferson, the Portland Interscholastic League champion. But once you're here, there's no clock. It's game time. It could be 12 midnight, but if the fans are here, it's game time.

North hit just 15 of 53 field goal attempts but cashed in on 24 of 31 free throws. They probably deserved a few more trips to the foul line.

I feel like I've been in a car accident or something, said North point guard Dolinda Meeker, who paced the Tornado with 17 points. Meeker had a lump below her left eye and was aching from a collision with the basket support a little more than a minute into the game.

I think it was hard waking up and playing so early, Meeker said. We were a little sluggish. It's hard when the shots don't fall. But we came out stronger in the second half.

Tornado center Ericka Brosterhous missed nine minutes of the first half with three fouls. With the 6-foot-3 senior on the bench, Jefferson (20-6) took advantage.

North led by as many as eight points in the first half, but Jefferson's 6-foot center Lakesha Jones spurred a 10-5 run as the Democrats closed to within 20-18 with 22 seconds left in the half. Lu Crenshaw drove inside to push North's lead to 22-18 at the intermission.

When you're missing easy shots, suddenly bodies are banging, North Medford coach Mike Kay said. We shot fairly well against Oregon City (Tuesday) and the game was much more fluid.

North took a 31-22 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter when sophomore post Tressa Manwaring and junior guard Ashlee Giles drained back-to-back 3-pointers. But Jones once again brought Jefferson back, scoring five points in a 7-1 streak to make it 32-29 with 1:12 left in the period.

The lead bounced between two and four points until Jones hit one of two free throws for Jefferson with 3:15 to play. The Demos never scored again.

Manwaring hit a pair of free throws with 2:41 to ignite the Tornado's final run in which North hit 7 of 8 free throws.

We like it physical, said North senior forward Aimee Dickerson. They were kind of worrying more about that than the game. We knew we couldn't worry about it too much.

Brosterhous finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of steals. In the homestretch, she blocked a shot, grabbed the ball and raced to the other end, where she was fouled and sank two free throws. Later, she stole the ball and went to the rack again.

She came alive in the second half and that really helped us, Meeker said.

JEFFERSON (41) -- Jones 18, Lewis 9, Abah 2, Holland 8, Moreland 2, Cason 0, T. Brazzle 0, S. Brazzle 0, Pierce 2, Willis 0. Totals: 14-60 12-21 41.

NORTH MEDFORD (57) -- Meeker 17, Dickerson 0, Giles 13, Brosterhous 10, Jackson 2, Close 0, Crenshaw 4, Harvey 0, Manwaring 9, Ross 0, Ledford 2. Totals: 15-53 24-31 57.

Jefferson7 11 11 12 -- 41

North Medford9 13 12 23 -- 57

3-point goals -- Jefferson 1-12 (Lewis 1), North Medford 3-4 (Meeker 1, Giles 1, Manwaring 1). Fouled out -- Abah. Rebounds -- Jefferson 44 (Jones 23), North Medford 50 (Giles 14).