Tornado overcomes slow start, wins big
As the North Medford High gymnasium emptied on Tuesday night, Derek Mautz gave the red oven mitt a look of amusement before trying it on.
On the inside of the glove — which a fan made for the North junior guard — was this message written in gold paint: Too Hot To Handle.
The short statement is a perfect fit for the Black Tornado, which has now won seven of its last eight games and five straight.
Jordan Browne-Moore and Jared Knox both scored 13 points and Mautz added 11 as North ran past Hillsboro 60-43 in a Class 6A state playoff contest.
The Black Tornado (18-5) next hosts Barlow (15-9) at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner will advance to the eight-team 6A state tournament at the Rose Garden in Portland.
"In the middle of the season, we were lacking on defense and not hustling as much," Mautz said. "Now we got back at it, we're playing North Medford basketball and we had our mind set on the Rose Garden. So we kept on our intensity."
North was cold early but heated up fast against the Spartans (9-17), who showcased 6-foot-5 post player Colt Lyerla. Defended by the 6-3 Browne-Moore for much of the evening, the standout University of Oregon football recruit was held to nine points on 4-for-13 shooting. Lyerla added four blocks.
"I've always tried to keep a level mind and not let people's status get me up," said Browne-Moore, who added 11 rebounds. "Enough people told me about (Lyerla). He's really strong. I am used to guarding big guys and have always guarded people bigger than me. He is known as a great rebounder and an athlete, so I just had to keep him preoccupied and busy while the other guys had to deal with the guard play."
Browne-Moore did just that once he and his teammates recaptured their mojo.
Hillsboro raced out to a 10-2 lead after nailing four of its first five shots. Meanwhile, the Black Tornado missed six of its initial seven before turning on a 14-3 run.
Amid the hot streak, Browne-Moore and Knox poured in back-to-back buckets and Mautz drained consecutive 3-pointers.
"We never let up," said Mautz, who added five assists. "They had that little spurt and we just knew we couldn't let them back in it."
North led by five at halftime and constructed a 12-point advantage by the end of the third quarter. Knox scored on a fastbreak and orchestrated a crowd-pleasing play a few minutes later during an 11-0 run by the Black Tornado. Sliding to the ground while dribbling, the senior guard tossed the ball over his head to a wide-open Chris Faust in the paint with 2:30 left in the period.
North buried 10 of its 16 free-throw attempts in the final eight minutes to clinch the win.
"We did a good job running our stuff and executing and making free throws down the stretch," North head coach Scott Plankenhorn said.
Faust recorded eight points and 11 rebounds and Marcus Ellis added five points and four assists for the Black Tornado, which outrebounded the Spartans 41-33.
While Lyerla was spectacular at times, Browne-Moore was consistent en route to his second straight double-double.
"He's had some seriously tough matchups and as an undersized post he does a great job on kids," Plankenhorn said of Browne-Moore.
Tyson Fernstrom and Joseph Jackson both scored 11 for Hillsboro.
"They ran their stuff," Hillsboro head coach Antoine Shired said of North's effort. "They did what they were told to do and we didn't. We were shooting the ball too quickly, we weren't passing the ball. It was a very bad game for us as a team."
HILLSBORO (43) — Fernstrom 11, Jackson 11, Drake 9, Lyerla 9, Grissom 3, Lepley 0, Waters 0, Quintero 0, Merrill 0, Carlson 0, Mark 0. Totals: 17-49 4-7 43.
NORTH MEDFORD (60) — Knox 13, Browne-Moore 13, Mautz 11, Faust 8, Garfas 5, Ellis 5, Osmanski 3, Artale 2, Takahashi 0, Bailey 0, McEwen 0, Whitaker 0, Howitt 0, Parker 0. Totals: 21-52 13-20 60.
Hillsboro 15 9 8 11 — 43
North Medford 17 12 15 16 — 60
3-point goals — Hillsboro 5-14 (Drake 3, Fernstrom 1, Grissom 1), North Medford 5-15 (Mautz 2, Osmanski 1, Knox 1, Garfas 1). Fouled out — Jackson.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org