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Mahr, Grants Pass too much for North

The Cavemen turn away the cold-shootingBlack Tornado early en route to the blowout win

GRANTS PASS ' Although a basketball purist could question the sportsmanship of the Grants Pass student section, those on hand for Friday night's game with North Medford couldn't challenge their accuracy.

That aforementioned group offered up the time-tested chant of It's all over with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

And it was.

In fact, the Cavemen could have started chanting even earlier than that as Grants Pass showed just exactly how big the difference is between second and third place in the Southern Oregon Conference boys basketball race.

With the Kory Mahr Show playing to a captive audience of about 1,500 at Heater-Newman Gym, Grants Pass broke a second-place tie with North in the SOC by scoring a runaway 73-42 triumph.

The Cavemen (13-4, 6-1 SOC) opened a 16-4 first-quarter lead, bumped that up to 39-11 at halftime and were ahead 53-16 in the third quarter when the chants began.

Only a 23-point, fourth-quarter surge by North (9-6, 5-2), with matters well in hand, kept the game from looking even more lopsided than it truly was.

I had hoped we'd give them a good game, said second-year North Medford coach Tim Sam. I guess not.

Mahr simply dominated from the opening tip until he took a well-deserved spot on the bench midway through the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-6 senior scored a game-high 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked four shots and completely shut down North's low-post game.

Mahr had almost as many dunks (four) as SOC-leading scorer Ryan Lucas had points (seven). The 6-3 Tornado junior entered the game averaging 19.4 points per game, but he could muster only a 3-for-16 effort against Mahr.

Kory Mahr's a big-game kind of player and certainly changed what we did tonight, said Sam. He knocked a couple back in Lucas' face and certainly took him out of the game. And, offensively, he was a handful going to the boards.

Although Mahr's performance shined the brightest, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Caveman who didn't make some significant contribution in GP's best overall game of the season.

The Cavemen converted 31-of-56 shots from the field (55 percent), held North to 15-of-54 shooting (28 percent) and won the battle of the boards 42-30.

We were due for a big offensive night, said Mahr. We haven't had very many all season.

With North sizing up about equal to Grants Pass and the Tornado bringing in their up-tempo, man-to-man style, the time simply was right for the Cavemen to break out of their shell.

We were just due, and North Medford happened to be the team that ran into us tonight, seventh-year Grants Pass coach Bill Cowell said.

More specifically, the Tornado ran into Mahr, who showed exactly why he was named to the SOC's all-defensive team last season.

Lucas put up only one shot without hesitation against Mahr, and that was a 3-pointer that opened scoring in the third quarter. The rest of Lucas' efforts were either blocked or altered as Mahr did his best to squash any hype of Lucas being the best post in the SOC.

There's been a lot said in the media about Lucas being the best offensive post in the league, said Cowell. And with Kory being a senior, I think he probably took that as a challenge.

He stepped up, and offensively he was every bit as good as he was defensively.

For Mahr's part, securing second place outright heading into the second half of the SOC schedule far outweighed any one-on-one talk.

We just wanted to come out and bounce back after a tough loss at South Medford (56-49 on Tuesday), he said.

When North got a little behind, I think they started taking some gambles and we were able to build on our lead. We just all played within ourselves, and no one tried to do too much.

Part of North's problem was that no one was able to do enough, much like in a 28-point, SOC-opening loss at South (7-0 SOC).

We didn't exactly come to play and weren't going on all cylinders, said Sam. Give credit to Grants Pass because that's a great basketball team and coach Cowell does a great job with them.

Chris Strahm came off the bench to lead North with 10 points, while Ryan Davidson had 11 points and nine rebounds and Tom Higgins 10 points for Grants Pass.

NORTH MEDFORD (42) ' Strahm 10, Hovland 9, Lucas 7, Running 3, Fuller 3, Ryan 2, Herrera 2, Timmerman 2, Thiesen 2, O'Brien 1, Clifton 1, DeLine 0, Wehage 0, Higgins 0. Totals: 15-54 7-12 42.

GRANTS PASS (73) ' Mahr 24, R. Davidson 11, Higgins 10, Dastrup 7, Cowell 7, Pollock 4, Lathen 3, Fode 3, Heater 2, N. Davidson 2, Chamberlain 0, Mace 0. Totals: 31-56 5-7 73.

North Medford................................4 7 8 23 ' 42

Grants Pass.............................. 16 23 16 18 ' 73

3-point goals ' North Medford 5-19 (Strahm 2, Hovland 2, Lucas 1), Grants Pass 6-17 (Higgins 2, Dastrup 1, Cowell 1, R. Davidson 1, Fode 1).

JV score ' North Medford 77, Grants Pass 70.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail