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Williams sparks Tornado rout

Michael Williams could do no wrong Thursday night for the North Medford boys basketball team.

The senior was a thief at one end with a team-high six steals and a marksman at the other, scoring 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting as the Black Tornado registered a convincing 62-37 victory over West Salem in the semifinals of the Abby's Holiday Classic at North Medford High.

Jordan Ellis added 14 points and Matt Maurer came off the bench to add nine points and nine rebounds.

Jordan Jenkins scored 19 points to lead West Salem, which takes on Aloha at 4:15 today in the third-place game.

North Medford (5-3) will play 10th-ranked Clackamas (7-1), a 67-45 winner over Aloha in the other semi, tonight at 6 in the championship game of the eight-team tournament. The Tornado has not won the Abby's Holiday Classic since 1994.

"This is exciting for us," said second-year North coach Scott Plankenhorn. "We wanted to come here (into the tournament) and win as many games as possible to get a good run going into league. We've been able to do that so far."

Williams' play on both ends was the spark the Black Tornado (5-3) needed Thursday.

The 6-foot-1 point guard led a defense that forced 26 turnovers and turned those Titan miscues into a number of easy baskets.

"Coach Plank is always preaching defense," said Williams. "To be honest with you, I wasn't doing anything special. I was just playing defense."

Williams and his teammates used an aggressive man-to-man attack to keep West Salem's guards off balance and prevent them from getting the ball to 6-3 senior post Jordan Bishop, who scored 19 points in a win over Battle Ground, Wash., on Wednesday.

Bishop was held scoreless against North on Thursday.

"Our guys did a good job defensively on him," said Plankenhorn. "They made sure it was tough to get him the ball and they surrounded him when he did get it."

Maurer was also big off the pine for North Medford. The 6-2 sophomore used several hustle plays to key a 14-3 run to start the second quarter that stretched the Black Tornado lead from 15-10 to 29-13.

Maurer scored on a putback just 12 seconds into the second period, then, two minutes later, rifled a length-of-the-court inbound pass to Josh Pecktol for an uncontested layup that pushed the advantage to 20-11.

North Medford led 31-21 at the half, with Maurer contributing four boards, two assists and two steals.

"My biggest goal is to bring energy off the bench," said Maurer, a standout pitcher in baseball. "I try to be physical with everyone when I'm out there. The more physical the better."

Williams and Ellis each had four points to ignite an 8-2 burst at the outset of the third quarter that gave North Medford a comfortable 39-23 lead.

Ellis' final bucket of the quarter came in spectacular fashion.

Williams stole the ball from a West Salem guard near midcourt and immediately passed ahead to a streaking Pecktol. But Pecktol could not get his feet set in time and left the layin attempt off the glass and then the front rim. Ellis, however, came swooping down the court to climb above the rim and convert the basket with a one-handed tip in.

West Salem never recovered and was outscored 31-16 in the second half.

"That was a tremendous effort," said Plankenhorn, who got offensive production from 10 of the 11 players to touch the court. "Defensively, we were attacking and making that first pass very difficult for them to make."

Tonight's opponent for the Black Tornado will provide another difficult challenge.

North defeated Clackamas 64-55 in last year's Abby's Holiday Classic.

"We got 'em last year so they probably want to get us back," said Williams. "I feel we're a good team but I don't think we've played our best game. Hopefully we can come out and show everybody that this team is for real."

WEST SALEM (37) — Bishop 0, Loumena 0, Saba 0, Allen 5, Evans 0, Sexton 4, Gilbert 3, Ellis 2, McCaughey 0, Cameron 0, Jenkins 19, Avila 4. Totals: 15-33 6-18 37.

NORTH MEDFORD (62) — McLemore 3, Williams 15, Ramirez 2, Ellis 14, Pecktol 8, Berger 6, Barlow 0, Waldron 1, Budavari-Jasper 2, Maurer 9, Gentry 2. Totals: 25-50 10-16 62.

West Salem 10 11 6 10 —37

North Medford 15 16 14 17 —62

3-point goals — West Salem 1 (Jenkins 1), North Medford 2 (Berger 1, McLemore 1).

Other Games

CLACKAMAS 67, ALOHA 45 — Andrew Earnest drained five 3-pointers for his team-high 15 points to guide Clackamas past Aloha and into the championship game.

Curtis Papenfuss added 12 points for the Cavaliers (7-1).

Aloha's A.J. Stephenson poured in a game-high 22 points. Aloha (4-7) plays West Salem for third place at 4:15 today.

BATTLE GROUND 58, FRANKLIN 45 — Battle Ground, Wash., pulled out to a 10-point lead after three quarters and maintained the lead in the consolation semifinal.

Kyle Kromminga and Erik Cronrath each scored 15 points for the Tigers (5-5). They play McNary for fourth place today at 2:30.

Michael Collins had 13 points and Nate Keilholtz 12 for Franklin (1-7).

MCNARY 63, RED BLUFF, CALIF. 39 — McNary of Salem bolted to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter and wasn't headed in the consolation semifinal.

Jordan Lewis-Graneto scored 13 points and Grant Kessel 12 for the Celtics (6-3), who meet Battle Ground in the fourth-place game at 2:30 today.

Kevin Bosworth led Red Bluff (5-7) with 13. The Spartans play Franklin at 12:45 today in the seventh-eighth game.

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail kgoff@mailtribune.com