North surges past GP
For the first eight minutes of play Friday night, it appeared the boys basketball teams at North Medford and Grants Pass were playing an elaborate joke on all those on hand in the Black Tornado gym.
Two baskets apiece and a 4-4 score heading into the second quarter? The only thing for certain is that each team seemed to have nowhere to go but up.
Thankfully for the home crowd, North Medford took that last sentiment to heart and dialed it up a notch over the final 24 minutes en route to a 62-42 runaway win over the Cavemen in Southern Oregon Hybrid action.
Senior guard Jared Knox paved the way for the Tornado with eight of his game-high 15 points in the second quarter. Knox also finished with four steals and three rebounds.
"We were getting the shots we wanted in the first quarter, we just were not making them," said North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn, whose team was a dismal 2-for-16 from the field in the opening frame. "What happens is it becomes contagious and then no one feels good about their shot. What happened in the second quarter is someone made one and everybody felt like, 'Oh, I can make one now.'"
That someone proved to be Knox, who broke his team's 0-for-9 drought from 3-point range with a deep shot from the left wing two minutes into the second quarter. Knox followed with a steal that set up a three-point play by Chris Faust and Jarrett Artale tacked on a 3-pointer soon after.
Suddenly, North Medford (11-2, 2-1 SOH) found itself with a bounce in its step and an 11-1 run that put the Tornado comfortably ahead of the short-handed Cavemen, 16-8.
"We just needed to bring some energy into the second quarter and find something to get us going over the hump," said Knox of the momentum-changing span. "I just wanted to get us going and get some energy in there. It seemed like we were kinda flat at the start of the game. Only scoring four points, it didn't seem like we were out there flying around too much."
The added energy spilled over to the defensive end, where North limited Grants Pass (5-8, 1-2) to only six shots from the field in the second quarter. It didn't help that the Cavemen were playing their second straight game without leading scorers Taylor Griggs and Tony Scriven, who were suspended two games for a violation of school rules.
"They got to us with their pressure, it was just that simple," said GP head coach Bill Cowell. "They were a little taller than us and a little quicker at just about every spot and we just didn't handle the ball very well."
The absence of a pure point guard in Griggs and a low-post scoring threat in Scriven caused GP to scramble a bit even when it was able to break North's full-court pressure.
"It's different lineups, it's different positions ... it's a mess," Cowell said of the adjusted team roles. "We played good Tuesday and good in spurts tonight, just not good enough."
North limited GP to single digits in two of the four quarters and 14-for-32 shooting overall. In comparison, the Tornado scored at least 15 points in the final three quarters and was 23-for-54 from the field.
Being able to limit the opportunities by the Cavemen was the focal point of Plankenhorn's pep talk to his team heading into the pivotal second quarter.
"That's why we preach defense, because when you can't shoot it a lick, look what happens," Plankenhorn said, "it's 4-4 and you're still in the game and you have a chance."
Jordan Browne-Moore, Faust and Artale each contributed eight points and the Black Tornado got seven apiece from Michael Osmanski and Marcus Ellis in another balanced effort. Osmanski, Browne-Moore and Faust each pulled down five rebounds, while Derek Mautz had five points and five assists.
The SOH win sets up a key confrontation for North Medford on Tuesday at South Medford (12-2, 2-1 SOH). The cross-town rivals are tied for second and stand one game behind Roseburg.
"It makes it a nice big game," said Plankenhorn. "It's the end of the first round (of SOH play) and we're going to go fight and do our stuff and hopefully play one of our better games."
Tyler Bennett came off the bench to score 11 points for the Cavemen, with Josh Emptage scoring all nine of his points in the fourth quarter thanks to a 7-for-7 effort from the foul line. Kolton Mahr also had nine points for GP.
GRANTS PASS (42) — Bennett 11, Mahr 9, Emptage 9, Etheridge 4, Tardieu 4, Evens 3, Fields 2, Rich 0. Totals: 14-32 12-16 42.
NORTH MEDFORD (62) — Knox 15, Browne-Moore 8, Faust 8, Artale 8, Osmanski 7, Ellis 7, Mautz 5, Parker 2, Bailey 2, Garfas 0, McEwen 0, Takahashi 0. Totals: 23-54 10-14 62.
Grants Pass 4 13 6 19 — 42
North Medford 4 23 20 15 — 62
3-point goals — Grants Pass 2-4 (Evens 1, Mahr 1), North Medford 6-21 (Knox 2, Artale 2, Osmanski 1, Mautz 1).
JV score — North Medford 48, Grants Pass 46.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry