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Tornado holds off Barlow in 3OT

Standing at the free-throw line, hearing the North Medford student section's roar of approval, feeling the ground beneath him shake, Jared Knox tried his hardest to focus as a season-long revery came to life.

The senior guard's two makes at the charity stripe with 2.8 seconds left put the final touches on a hard-fought win in triple overtime over Barlow and sent a sea of fans onto the North Medford High court Friday night.

The Class 6A second-round state-playoff victory fulfilled a season-long dream in a fashion that even Knox could never have imagined.

"Amazing," said Knox, who scored six of his 20 points in the final four minutes to help clinch the 76-69 win and send the Black Tornado (19-5) to the 6A state tournament. The tourney begins Wednesday at the Rose Garden in Portland.

North, which has won eight of its last nine games and six straight, will play West Linn (13-14) at 6:30 p.m. The Lions beat Lake Oswego 63-51 in their second-round game.

"We've worked hard to be in this spot," North head coach Scott Plankenhorn said.

Despite a string of heroics late, the Bruins went 0-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc in the final minute of the third overtime while trying desperately to tie the game.

"You know what? This was just a great game," Barlow head coach Tom Johnson said. "It's one of those where it's a shame somebody had to lose. ... This is a great group of kids and we won't let this tarnish our season."

Senior reserve Marcus Ellis also came up big for the Black Tornado in the third OT, scoring consecutive buckets to put the home team ahead for good. He finished with 16 points.

Knox knocked down a pair of free throws with 32 seconds remaining in the second overtime to even the game at 65.

"I just had to clear my head and take a couple of deep breaths," said Knox, who also had nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.

On the ensuing possession, Barlow's Brock Otis drove hard to the basket and missed his shot. Ellis' last-second 3-point try was off, prompting the third OT.

Barlow (15-10) was 6-for-6 at the charity stripe in the second overtime session.

Tanner Jones' deep 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the first overtime pulled the Bruins to within a point, and Otis' free-throw make 26 seconds later tied things at 59.

"Barlow is a great team," Plankenhorn said. "They fought back. It was back and forth, and so you feel bad for the team that doesn't win. I think the thing that stands out the most was our defensive stops late, rebounding and free throws."

Trailing by four points in a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Barlow needed and received some magic from Deray Robinson. The senior guard — who fouled out in the first OT session — scored on a dazzling drive and was fouled with 17.7 seconds remaining. After Robinson connected on his free-throw attempt, Ellis was fouled and made one of his two tries at the line. With less than 10 seconds left and his team down by two, Robinson dribbled the length of the court and connected on a layup to level the contest at 53.

North turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound attempt, but Derek Saling's shot with 1.2 seconds left was off, forcing overtime.

Saling knocked down a key baseline 3-pointer with 1:09 left in regulation to tie the game at 48. The junior forward finished with 14 points.

Jones poured in 19 points and Otis scored 18 for the Bruins. In a first-round state playoff game in 2009, Barlow lost to Newberg 92-86 in triple-OT.

Michael Osmanski had 13 points and Chris Faust had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Black Tornado, which led 22-20 at halftime. Faust showed dominance in the fourth quarter, registering six points in the paint. His thunderous dunk on a Derek Mautz steal and pass with 6:07 remaining gave North a 41-36 advantage.

Knox's steal and reverse layin with 2:30 left in the third quarter put the Black Tornado ahead by nine points.

Mautz drained three 3-pointers and finished with nine points, and Jordan Browne-Moore contributed six points and nine rebounds.

"We battled all game," Knox said. "I guess we figured out which team was better tonight."

BARLOW (69) — Roher 3, Paxson 0, Jones 19, Johnson 2, Robinson 11, Leabo 2, Otness 0, Thran 0, Saling 14, Otis 18, Kennedy 0. Totals: 24-44 17-24 69.

NORTH MEDFORD (76) — Ellis 16, Knox 20, Osmanski 13, Artale 0, Browne-Moore 6, Mautz 9, McEwen 0, Howitt 0, Faust 12, Garfas 0. Totals: 30-65 12-19 76.

Barlow 10 10 14 19 6 6 4 — 69

North Medford 13 9 17 14 6 6 11 — 76

3-point goals — Barlow 4-19 (Jones 3, Saling 1), North Medford 4-17 (Mautz 3, Osmanski 1). Fouled out — Roher, Robinson, Faust, Mautz.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail djones@mailtribune.com

North Medford's Christopher Faust, left, snags a rebound over Barlow's Deray Robinson on Friday. - Denise Baratta