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Parker propels Tornado in opener

When North Medford led 10-2 inside the first three minutes of play and all-star senior post Erica Schultz hadn't even taken a shot, you just knew it was going to be a good night for the Black Tornado.

Sure enough, the North Medford girls basketball team didn't disappoint in their season opener on Friday.

Schultz poured in 12 of her team-high 18 points in the first half against North Eugene, but it was fellow senior Jana Parker who proved the most instrumental in leading the Black Tornado to a 62-38 victory.

Parker scored four points in each quarter to total 16, and was seemingly all over the court as she pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and helped disrupt the Highlander offense.

"It was a career game for her tonight," said North Medford coach Tim Karrick of Parker.

"She's a special girl. She'll do whatever she has to do for us to be successful, and tonight it was scoring."

The 5-foot-8 wing did the brunt of her offensive damage from the foul line, draining all 10 of her attempts. As a team, North Medford converted 22 of 26 attempts from the charity stripe.

"If we wouldn't have executed on free-throw shooting, this would've been a really close game, so it really saved us," said Schultz, who also finished with five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Andrea Egge added eight points and four rebounds off the bench, while sophomore Karissa Dixon fared well in her first start at point guard with seven points and four rebounds.

McKenzie Smith, Jaci Abeloe and Kacie Whitehead each pulled down five boards as North Medford dominated the glass, outrebounding North Eugene 38-16.

"North Medford always plays hard and always plays intense," North Eugene coach Brent Coleman said. "It was a good measuring stick for us, but we didn't even come close to being on that stick. We didn't have any energy tonight."

That was especially true early on as the Black Tornado swarmed all over the court to deny the Highlanders (0-2), eventually limiting North Eugene to only 28 percent shooting (13-for-47) for the night.

"Being our first game, of course it's going to be a little bit slow because we don't know what tempo we need to be at yet," Schultz said. "But defense is definitely our key when it comes to how we play. I think that's pretty much what got us going."

North Eugene junior Mackenzie Ficek almost single-handedly kept her team within striking distance in the first quarter with seven of her team's eight points, but long lulls in scoring hampered the Highlanders throughout the game. Ficek finished with a team-high 18 points.

"We want to take people out of what they're doing and make them make decisions on the run or in bad positions, and for the most part we did that," Karrick said. "We're a ways away from being a good basketball team, but I sure liked what I saw."

Parker's play was especially important considering another all-conference player, senior Whitney Hodnett, is still hobbled by a high ankle sprain. Karrick said Hodnett isn't expected back until his team travels to Lake Oswego for the Interstate Shootout on Dec. 26-29.

"She's already a great defender and if there's a loose ball on the floor the girl's going to get a hand on it," Karrick said of Parker, "but for her to step up offensively like that, especially with Whitney not playing, was huge."

NORTH EUGENE (38) — M. Ficek 18, Dunn 6, Huff 6, T. Ficek 3, DeHaven 2, Wiltz 2, Verde 1, Kimball 0, Ingram 0, Knight 0. Totals: 13-47 9-19 38.

NORTH MEDFORD (62) — Schultz 18, Parker 16, Egge 8, Dixon 7, Smith 5, Satterfield 4, Abeloe 2, Whitehead 2, Dekorte 0, Gall 0. Totals: 19-47 22-26 62.

North Eugene 8 11 8 11 — 38

North Medford 14 16 15 17 — 62

3-point goals — North Eugene 3-19 (M. Ficek 3), North Medford 2-5 (Schultz 1, Dixon 1). Technical fouls — North Eugene coach Coleman.

JV score — North Medford 45, North Eugene 41.

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

North Medford’s Jana Parker, left, drives to the basket as North Eugene’s Tayler Ficek defends during Friday’s game.