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Crater too much for North

CENTRAL POINT — Whatever North Medford threw at the Crater girls basketball team, the Comets were ready Friday night.

That theory didn't work both ways, however, as Crater steamrolled the Black Tornado, 76-51, in yet another efficient dismantling of a Southern Oregon Conference foe.

The second-ranked Comets (16-1, 8-0 SOC) jumped to an 11-0 lead and handed the Black Tornado its sixth SOC loss and 12th in 17 games overall.

If they were going to try for what South did, we prepared for it, said Crater coach David Heard, referring to Tuesday, when South Medford used a slow-down tactic. We didn't really care what they did, though. We were going to just get the rebounds and get out and run no matter what.

With Sarah Pool distributing the ball, Jody McLeod dominating inside and Janell Sapienza flying all over the court, Crater did just that in taking a 49-16 halftime advantage.

Pool and Sapienza provided the play of the night — and possibly the year — with one minute left in the second quarter. After Pool had drained back-to-back 3-pointers, the junior playmaker opted for a different approach on Crater's ensuing possession.

Following a North miss, Pool corralled a loose ball near the free-throw line, took two dribbles and sent a lob pass across court toward the basket. The ball sailed over three North defenders and found a home in the hands of a suddenly emerging Sapienza, who snatched the pass in mid-air and directed it into the basket amid the oohs and aahs of the crowd.

Pool wasn't interested in making much of the pass following the game, but her coach didn't have trouble capturing the moment.

That lob was one of the best plays I've ever seen, said Heard. You just don't see that in girls basketball from half court. That was just incredible.

The vantage point from North's sidelines was a little less enthusiastic, however, as the Tornado once again started slowly and closed the gap only when the Comets went solely to reserves late in the third quarter.

We got out kind of timid, said North senior Ashley Nelson. We just don't come out as strong in the first and second quarters as we do the second half. We need to work on playing a full 32 minutes. We can't just play for a good ending.

Nelson scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Brittany Hodges added eight for the Tornado.

When she was on the court, the game belonged to Pool. The junior had her way on offense, continually breaking down the North defense to develop an open look for a teammate or a scoring opportunity for herself. Pool finished with 18 points, nine assists and four steals.

Sarah Pool just does a great job finding people, said Heard.

Pool scored 16 points in the first half, with McLeod adding 12 of her 16 and Sapienza notching eight of her 10 in the opening two frames.

In the first half, Jody and Janell completely just carried us, said Pool. Jody got tons of rebounds and Sapienza was hitting the shots. They really did something for us tonight.

Crater's large early lead cut into the numbers of the Comets? other prime-time player, Amy Denson, although the junior did score eight points and grab six rebounds.

Crater's defensive pressure helped spur most of those numbers, with the Comets forcing 22 turnovers and notching 14 steals.

Freshman Katie Robertson chipped in nine points off the bench against North, which lost 76-37 the first time these two teams faced off this season.

That early-season spanking apparently did nothing to dissuade Crater from an all-out effort Friday night.

It's not hard to get up because we like to play, said Pool. Every time that we have the opportunity to come out and play a game, we give it our all and just have fun.

We're just trying to continue to stay focused and play as a team so we can keep it rolling.

Despite Friday's disappointing outcome, Nelson said North will recharge its battery and be ready to finish off the league season strong.

Our goal is to win every one from here on out, she said. I know we can do it, we just have to come out strong for a full 32 minutes and not wait for the second half. If we can do that we?ll be OK.

— NORTH MEDFORD (51

) — — Hwang 6, Lilly 6, Hodges 8, Nelson 21, Stevenson 2, Versteeg 6, Miller 2, Gentry 0, Meager 0. Totals: 17-33 14-21 51.

— CRATER (76)- Pool 18, McLeod 16, Sapienza 10, Denson 8, Johnson 4, Black 5, Kinney 4, Huntley 2, Robertson 9, Anhorn 0, Lebel 0, Nafie 0. Totals: 31-57 11-20 76.

— North Medford.........................................8 8 13 22 — 51

Crater......................................................26 23 17 10 — 76

3-point goals — Crater 3-4 (Black 1, Pool 2), North Medford 3-11 (Hwang 1, Nelson 2).

JV score — Crater 31, North Medford 16.

Reach reporter at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com