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Anderson leads North to victory

On a night when the North Medford High boys basketball team lost yet another player to injury, Ben Anderson had the game of his life.

The 6-foot-3 senior wing bombed in 14 first-period points and 29 overall to fuel the Black Tornado to a 68-56 victory over Crater Friday night in the North gym.

The victory broke a three-game losing streak for the Tornado, now 7-9 overall and 3-3 in the Southern Oregon Conference.

The struggling Comets fell to 5-11 and 1-5.

We needed someone to step up offensively and so I decided to shoot the ball a little more, said Anderson, who nailed five 3-point baskets and was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. I got into a rhythm early and just took it from there.

North Medford went into the game without starting point guard Mike Olson, who is sidelined with a broken hand, and starting post Travis Poulton, who is out with a shoulder injury.

The Tornado lost yet another front-line performer Friday when senior Thomas O'Brien went down with a badly sprained ankle at the 1:23 mark of the third period.

But rather than dwell on its bad luck, North Medford played with purpose and poise down the stretch to run its homecourt record to 5-0 this season.

We've been given reasons the last two weeks to lose faith and exhibit negative qualities, North Medford coach Gene Quilhaugh said. But these kids won't do that, and I've got to give our seniors credit. They just keep playing hard.

Along with Anderson, another senior who registered a solid game was Kevin Foreman. A 53 percent free-throw shooter going into Friday's game, Foreman sank 6 of 7 from the line and scored 10 points, all in the second half.

I've been shooting a lot of extra free throws in practice, Foreman said. And tonight I just relaxed when I went up there.

Anderson drilled a 12-foot jumper from the left wing just five seconds into the game, swished a 3-pointer 33 seconds into the contest and scored again at the 6:13 mark of the first period when he stole the ball and made a layup.

It was Anderson 7, Crater 2 at that juncture, and by the time he sank a 12-foot jumper with 31 seconds remaining in the period, he had 14 of North Medford's 22 points, while the Comets had but 11.

— halftime Anderson had 21 of North Medford's 31 points, with Crater managing just 22 points in the opening two quarters.

Not much was going right for Crater, but Andrew Norum ignited a third-period charge that saw the Comets crawl within 40-37 with 2:05 left in the period.

Norum, a 6-4 sophomore post, had eight points in the period and it was his layup that pulled the Comets within three.

That's about the time O'Brien sprained his ankle, but North Medford still closed out the quarter strong. First, Anderson stole the ball, passed it to a streaking Zach Taylor and Taylor converted a three-point play after getting fouled on a layup.

Junior guard Brian Weeks then drove into the key and made an 8-foot jumper as the quarter ended, giving North Medford a 45-37 lead.

Crater scored the first four points of the fourth period to pull within 45-41, but Anderson — who else? — hit two treys over the next minute to essentially put the Comets out of their misery.

North Medford helped its cause by making 13 of 15 free throws over the final 5:52 and was a tidy 25 of 27 on the night.

We made a run at them but then we couldn't make a play, said Crater coach Matt Meunier, whose team came into Friday's game having lost four SOC games by a total of 12 points. We'd either make a bad pass or take a poor shot, and it was back to 10 points just like that.

Senior post Andy Haas led the Comets with 17 points and Norum performed solidly with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

David Wessells came off the bench to score eight points for North Medford, while Weeks had a steady floor game with seven points, five assists, two steals and just three turnovers.

This could end up being a benchmark game for us, Quilhaugh said. We had lost to three pretty good teams (Roseburg, South Medford and Grants Pass) and we needed a win tonight if we're going to get back into the race.

— CRATER (56)- Haas 17, Norum 14, Darnell 12, Ryan 6, Goode 3, Petersen 2, Sills 2, Goff 0. Totals: 21 10-13 56.

— NORTH MEDFORD (68) -Anderson 29, Foreman 10, Wessells 8, Weeks 7, O'Brien 7, Burchfiel 4, Taylor 3, Timmerman 0, Deline 0, Lucas 0. Totals: 19 25-27 68.

— Crater .....................................................11 11 15 19 — 56 North Medford ....................................... 22 9 14 23 — 68

3-point goals — Crater 4 (Darnell 3, Norum 1), North Medford 5 (Anderson 5). Fouled out — Petersen, Goode.

JV score — Crater 58, North Medford 57.

Reach reporter at 776-4469, or e-mail dhunt@mailtribune.com

North's Kevin Foreman, center, maneuvers past a pair of Crater defenders. - Andrew Mariman