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Ellis sparks North to Abby's crown

Undersized, scrappy North Medford faced a major challenge against taller, stronger Hillsboro in the finals of the 19th Abby's Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament on New Year's eve.

But in the end, Jordan Ellis proved to be the difference maker for the Black Tornado. After going 12 years without winning the eight-team Classic, unbeaten North Medford registered its second consecutive championship with a 63-57 victory against the Spartans of the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference.

North Medford defeated Clackamas 85-61 in the 2007 title game and has five Abby's tournament crowns.

"They're a solid basketball team," said Plankenhorn of Hillsboro. "They have good guards and inside kids. It was a true test."

Ellis demonstrated a variety of athletic, nifty change-of-pace moves in scoring a game-high 20 points to accompany seven rebounds and five assists. The 6-foot senior guard tallied 10 points in each half.

Early on Class 6A eighth-ranked North Medford (8-0) struggled penetrating the key against Hillsboro and the outside shots weren't falling with consistency. The Spartans (5-3) dominated the boards — pulling down eight offensive rebounds in the first half — but didn't take full advantage of some multiple shot possessions.

An Ellis steal and driving reverse layin just before the end of the first quarter pulled North to within two, 12-10, after trailing by as much as six points in the period.

"That was a big momentum thing," said Hillsboro coach Greg Edwards, who was part of the South Medford staff from 1992-97. "Ellis made some big plays. He's an athlete."

The Black Tornado opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run and never relinquished the lead. Junior guard David Formolo accounted for North's first five points and had all seven of his points in the period.

With the Black Tornado leading 29-26, Ellis controlled the ball for the final shot of the half. As the Spartan defense focused on stopping an Ellis drive to the basket, he patiently found Tevin Faust open on the baseline for a 3-pointer to end the second quarter.

"He's the best player on the team," said North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn of Ellis. "He knows where to pick his spots. He was sharing the ball with the other guys and trusting them."

An Ellis layin following two misses on the offensive end opened the second-half scoring. When Ellis wasn't making plays himself, he was either setting up a teammate or hustling to disrupt the Spartans' offense. His presence on the court was a constant factor.

"Whey they're bigger than you, you have to play with a lot of extra effort," said Ellis. "They were in our face, so I had to try to take them."

Matt Maurer proved to be a big reason the taller Spartans — with 6-7 Brett Ball and 6-5 Colt Lyerla the nucleus of a stout frontline — only finished with a 44-41 rebounding advantage. Maurer, a 6-2 junior wing, pulled down an impressive 16 rebounds, including nine offensive.

"Matt is a horse down there," said Ellis, "and he played hard. He gave us a lot of extra shots."

Plankenhorn also appreciated the effort turned in by Maurer: "It's hard to keep him off the boards from his wing position. He's relentless. He's a good reader of where the ball will go."

Senior Josh Pecktol turned in another tireless performance with a hard-earned 14 points.

"We had our hands full," said Pecktol. "They (Ball and Lyerla) were tough. They were the best one-two punch we've seen down low. It was hard to get easy shots underneath. We had to adjust to it."

The Black Tornado shot 22 of 58 from the field (38 percent), while Hillsboro was 19 of 59 (32 percent) and just 5 of 22 from 3-point range.

"We didn't do a good enough job getting the ball where we needed," said Edwards. "We just didn't shoot the ball well enough. That was the difference."

HILLSBORO (57) — Perry 5, Drake 8, Jackson 0, Griffith 2, Mims 13, Ball 10, Fernstrom 2, Mosley 8, Lyerla 9. Totals: 19-59 14-15 57.

NORTH MEDFORD (63) — Maurer 7, Faust 4, Ellis 20, Pecktol 14, Borg 9, Shipley 2, Formolo 7, Ross 0. Totals: 22-58 12-19 63.

Hillsboro 12 14 10 21 — 57

North Med. 10 22 15 16 — 63

3-point goals — Hillsboro 5-22 (Perry 1, Drake 1, Mims 3), North Medford 7-17 (Faust 1, Pecktol 2, Borg 3, Formolo 1). Fouled out — Griffith.

Other Games

  • FRANKLIN 50, WEST SALEM 46 — Franklin needed all 17 of Max Snodderly's points to earn a narrow victory over West Salem for third place.
  • MCNARY 54, RED BLUFF, CALIF. 37 — McNary's J.J. Baisch poured in 16 points and the Celtics took fourth place while Red Bluff settled for sixth.
  • LAKERIDGE 53, BATTLE GROUND, WASH. 37 — Michael Hoch's 12-point afternoon helped Lakeridge beat out Battle Ground of Washington for seventh place.

North Medford’s Jordan Ellis drives to the basket past Hillsboro’s Colt Lyerla during the Black Tornado’s 63-57 victory in the Abby’s Holiday Classic finals.