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Cougars claw past Tornado

With Mountain View leading scorer Kyle Mayhew sidelined by a bad back, Abe Lodwick was forced into an unfamiliar role Friday night.

Lodwick, a 6-foot-7 junior post, scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the defending Intermountain League co-champion denied North Medford its first victory with a 59-57 win in nonconference boys basketball at the Black Tornado gym.

(Lodwick) answered the challenge, Mountain View coach Craig Reid said. We needed to fill the void in the low post without Mayhew. He kept their big kid (Steven Theel) in foul trouble by staying aggressive.

Besides leading all scorers, Lodwick added eight assists and three blocked shots. He also knocked down three 3-point goals.

I'm normally a wing, but I had to go to the post, said Lodwick. It was definitely my best game of the year.

— North Medford received a strong performance from the 6-6 senior post Theel, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Theel was held scoreless in the second half and fouled out with 2:14 remaining in the game.

I knew I had to come out and play a lot harder, especially rebounding-wise, said Theel. (Lodwick) gave me some problems because I'm more of a post player and I had to help out inside, then go out on his shot.

Even though North Medford suffered its third loss in three outings, coach Tim Sam found encouragement with the performance against the undefeated Cougars (4-0).

We've come real far in the last week, said Sam. We wanted to play within ourselves and we didn't get rushed.

The improvement was no more evident than in North's number of turnovers. The Black Tornado committed only 15 turnovers against the Cougars compared to 35 in a 61-45 loss to Springfield last Saturday.

Sam credits sophomore reserve guard Michael Williams with helping North take better care of the ball. Williams had four assists and only one turnover while playing extended minutes.

Michael Williams came in and did a very nice job at the point, said Sam.

North Medford had the Cougars on the ropes when freshman Jordan Ellis connected on the third of his four 3-point goals to give the Black Tornado its final lead of the game, 49-45, with 6:18 remaining.

But Lodwick answered right back with a trey, then made two free throws after getting fouled on a putback to put Mountain View ahead 50-49 at the 5:24 mark.

The Black Tornado stumbled from the free-throw line in the final four minutes. North managed just — of 6 from the line, including missing two front ends of 1-and-1 opportunities.

Ellis, who became the first freshman in North history to start a game at home, gave the Black Tornado a final chance by knocking down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Cougar lead to 56-55 with 1:19 to go.

But Jacob Eades converted two offensive rebounds into three points to hold off any hopes of a North comeback.

If we make our free throws down the stretch, the two-point difference could have been erased, said Sam. We had a chance to win against a very good team.

MOUNTAIN VIEW (59) ' Lodwick 24, Wilcox 0, Rooney 9, N. Klein 4, M. Klein 9, Sandifer 2, Eades 11, Dart 0. Totals: 20-44 15-27 59.

NORTH MEDFORD (57) ' Theel 12, J. Ellis 12, Neel 8, E. Stroh 7, Williams 4, Pecktol 4, Slowey 4, Stefanson 2, Blaschka 2, Budavari 2, A. Stroh 0. Totals: 20-51 10-20 57.

Mountain View..........................17 15 11 16 ' 59

North Medford..........................15 17 12 13 ' 57

3-point goals ' Mountain View 4-10 (Lodwick 3, M. Klein 1), North Medford 7-19 (Ellis 4, Neel 1, Theel 1, E. Stroh 1). Fouled out ' Theel.

JV score ' North Medford 59, Mountain View 45.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail Cougars claw past Tornado "fsilow@mailtribune.com.