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Grizz tips North in semis, 59-57

Unbeaten and eighth-ranked McMinnville had North Medford 12 points down and reeling early in the third quarter.

But the Black Tornado, playing without injured guard Wes Towne, didn't back off as the Grizzlies tried to finish off their eighth straight victim and get some rest prior to tonight's championship game of the Abby's Legendary Pizza Holiday Basketball Classic.

A controversial charging call against North's Dave Husel as time ran out, sent the Tornado to a 59-57 loss.

McMinnville will meet South Medford (5-4) in tonight's title game at South Medford. The game starts at 7:45 p.m.

All I know is that was a crappy (foul) call, said North Medford senior guard Jeff Zimmer, who scored a career-high 28 points and handed off seven assists.

But Husel, who drove from right to left and scored on a left-handed layup at the buzzer, was called for an offensive foul that had many in the suddenly noisy arena booing.

First-year North Medford coach Gene Quilhaugh protested the call in vain.

I saw a nice drive and a layup, he said of Husel's shot. The ball was out of his hands when the collision occurred.

But I'm not in the business of questioning officials' calls. They have a job to do like I do. Regardless of the outcome, I'm proud of our kids the way they battled back and played hard.

Said Zimmer: We should have been in overtime, and I think we would have won. We were in better shape, and we had momentum.

McMinnville coach Rick Havercroft had a different viewpoint:

It was probably a questionable call, he said of Husel's layup. But the same kid who took the charge was called for a foul at the other end that was shaky. At least, if you're going to make one call, you'd better make the other. I hate to see calls decide games like that at the end.

Playing its full-court pressing, North rallied from a 33-21 deficit with 6:33 left in the third quarter.

A 10-2 North run in the final minute and 50 seconds of the third quarter tied the score at 40-40 entering the final period.

Undersized (6-foot-2) Tate Mellbye, who has been converted from a wing to a small post man, scored six points in North's run.

McMinnville nursed small leads during most of the fourth quarter, until North tied the game at 57-57 on a 3-point field goal by Zimmer from the right wing with 43 seconds left in the game.

After Travis Jones of the Grizzlies scored on a layup with 26 seconds left for a 59- 57 lead, North took a timeout to set up for a final shot to tie or win.

We were trying to go to me, said Zimmer. But they were double-teaming and I couldn't get it. So the ball went to Dave (Husel) and he had what looked like an open layup. The contact came after the ball was in the basket.

This one hurts, but we made major progress learning the system tonight, said Zimmer. We're going to be tough to beat when we play like this.

We not only want to be No. — in Medford, but No. — in the conference, said Zimmer. We're on the way, we think.

Mellbye had seven rebounds to go with his 10 points. Post player Travis Hinkle scored six points and had five rebounds.

But it was Zimmer who tried make up for the loss of Towne's scoring and shooting woes by his teammates with extra shots.

Clint Russell, McMinnville's 6-5 senior center, topped the Grizzlies with 22 points.

Forward Jayson Pratt added 13 points and Jones 10 for the Grizzlies.

I'm proud of these kids for coming down here, staying in a hotel out of town, dealing with a noisy crowd in the other team's gym and coming out of it all with a win, said Havercroft. We've won a lot of close games. We're getting used to it.

Havercroft says Quilhaugn's man-to-man defensive pressure over 94 feet is going to cause major problems in the Southern Oregon Conference.

They're real physical, and they play hard, he said. If I was Gene (Quilhaugh), I'd probably do something similar. They are so athletic, they can do it and make up for lack of size and other things.

NORTH MEDFORD (57) -- Oliver 4, Mellbye 10, McNeill 0, Zimmer 28, Husel 2, Brownell 2, Weyers 0, Hinkle 6, Schlief 1, Jantzer 0.

MCMINNVILLE (59) -- Hurl 0, Pratt 13, Peterson 2, Dale 0, Fricke 4, McCoy 8, Russell 22, Jones 10.

North Medford ..................11 9 20 17 -- 57 McMinnville .......................12 15 13 19 -- 59

3-point goals -- North Medford — (Zimmer 3), McMinnville 2 (Pratt 1, Russell 1).

ALOHA 52, OREGON CITY 38 -- At North Medford High, Aloha, which got 17 points from Esping, pulled away with a 22-point fourth quarter.

ALOHA (52) -- Nilan 4, Hanson 6, O'Connor 7, Wright 0, Walter 2, Esping 17, Gross 0, Hummel 11, Hope 2, Brigham 2, Gable 1. Totals: 20-42 10-14 52.

OREGON CITY (38) -- Chapman 3, Schneider 0, Wester 4, Spencer 7, Solaita 7, Brownlee 0, Tondreau 2, Hauck 6, Branderhorst 3, Flaohsbart 4, Johnson 2. Totals: 10-46 13-24 38.

Aloha ...............................12 4 14 22 -- 52 Oregon City ....................9 7 11 11 -- 38

3-point goals -- Aloha 4 (O'Connor 1, Esping 3), Oregon City 5 (Chapman 1, Wester 1, Spencer 2, Hauck 1).