North pounds West Salem
Tanner Borg struggled with his decision to forgo playing basketball last year to focus on winning a second consecutive state tennis title.
While Borg succeeded in winning back-to-back doubles championships with partner David Longmire, he sorely missed being on the basketball court.
There was no indecision by Borg about playing basketball his senior year.
When North Medford struggled early against West Salem in the semifinals of the 19th annual Abby's Holiday Classic, it was Borg who came off the bench to ignite the Black Tornado attack.
Borg swished a 3-pointer during a 13-0 Black Tornado run to end the first quarter, then bombed in two more to complete a 24-2 surge that carried undefeated North Medford to a 73-40 home victory Tuesday.
Eighth-ranked North Medford (7-0) will go for its second straight Abby's Classic title at 6 p.m. today against Hillsboro at the Black Tornado gym
North Medford had difficulty getting into any offensive rhythm early against the Titans' 2-3 zone defense. West Salem, which lost to Benson in the opening round of last year's Class 6A state playoffs as the No. 3 team from the Central Valley Conference, took an 11-10 lead on a 3-pointer by Jarrod Hicks with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter.
West Salem failed to score over the next 3:15 as the Black Tornado raced to a 28-11 lead, then upped the advantage to 29 points by halftime.
"We couldn't match up man-to-man so we had to play zone," said West Salem veteran coach Scott Cross. "They were getting two or three shots and pretty soon they started making them."
Senior guard Tevin Faust began North's run with a trey from the top of the circle. Matt Maurer followed with a slinky move in the key and Borg, who just entered the game, unleashed the first of three silky smooth long-range jumpers. Josh Pecktol sank a short jumper from the baseline, then Jordan Ellis completed the opening period with a three-point play off a fast break fed by Pecktol.
"Early we were trying to shorten the game a little bit," said Cross. "They play hard and shoot the ball well. When you're not making shots and rebounding, it's tough."
Borg opened the second quarter scoring with a 3. The 6-foot guard made a steal and pulled up for another triple, then canned a turn-around 15-foot jumper to complete his offensive output and put North ahead 38-14 with three minutes to go in the first half.
Coming into the game and immediately making his first 3-pointer was a big confidence booster according to Borg.
"I was feeling good earlier in the day and then in warm-ups my shot felt good," said Borg. "My role is to help spread the floor and look for my shot."
Last year, Borg sat behind the North bench all season and was close to the team at the state tournament when the Black Tornado made it to the semifinals.
"That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, focusing on tennis," said Borg. "I had to play basketball again. I love the game."'
North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn appreciated that Borg stayed close to the team last year.
"I understood," said Plankenhorn. "I'm not going to fight a guy who has special skills in another sport. We knew he would be coming out (this year) and that was a good thing for us."
Senior forward Josh Pecktol was a warrior for North with a game-high 19 points to go with eight rebounds, three steals and two assists. Pecktol scored six of North's first eight points and was a presence on the boards.
"We started slow but picked it up and played our game," said Pecktol. "We flat got after it on the defensive end. That's what started it. That's why we beat them so bad. "
In the first half, North outrebounded the Titans 17-5 and forced 12 turnovers. While the Black Tornado was 18 of 30 from the field, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, before intermission, West Salem only managed 13 shots off North's hounding man defense.
"We were flying to the ball and getting in those passing lanes," said Plankenhorn. "It seemed like multiple guys were on the ball even though they weren't."
Senior guard Jordan Ellis had an effective game with 10 points, a team-best eight assists and seven rebounds and senior post Riley Shipley provided a lift off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds.
"We showed how we can play," said Plankenhorn. "We were aggressive on defense. We got in transition and shared the basketball. This was definitely the best we've played all season in all facets."
WEST SALEM (40) — Chappell 0, Saba 14, Faber 0, Postell 1, Lenz 0, Lands-Adams 2, Gonzales 6, Scheller 6, Hicks 9, Avila 2, Frinzi 0, Smith 0. Totals: 15-39 6-10 40.
NORTH MEDFORD (73) — Maurer 6, Clark 0, Faust 9, Ellis 10, Pecktol 19, Borg 11, Shipley 8, Formolo 4, Waits 4, Ross 2. Totals: 29-60 6-6 73.
West Salem 11 6 8 15 — 40
North Medford 23 23 18 9 — 73
3-point goals — West Salem 4-16 (Saba 1, Hicks 3), North Medford 9-20 (Faust 3, Ellis 1, Pecktol 2, Borg 3).
- HILLSBORO 62, FRANKLIN 35 — Drew Perry helped shoot Hillsboro into the championship game by scoring 18 points, including 12 onuy four 3-pointers.
- RED BLUFF, CALIF. 47, BATTLE GROUND, WASH., 28 — Ben Redfield scored 11 points for Red Bluff.
Willie Bratcher led Battle Ground with eight.
MCNARY 70, LAKERIDGE 41 — Jordan Lewis-Graneto made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for McNary. The Celtics made 11 3-pointers.
Robert Breedlove scored 10 for Lakeridge.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org