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Tornado uses big second half to pull away

First the North Medford girls basketball team got mad.

Then it got even.

After an aggravating first half peppered with missed shots and turnovers, the Black Tornado turned things around in the final 16 minutes of its 54-43 Class 6A state play-in win over Hillsboro at North Medford High on Friday.

North will next travel to play in the first round of the 6A state playoffs on Tuesday.

The Black Tornado trailed 26-21 at halftime after an opening 16 minutes that offered few highlights.

"We went into halftime knowing we weren't playing very well," North Medford head coach Kailey Bostwick said. "We were getting outrebounded (and) outhustled. In the third quarter we decided to work a little harder, get some rebounds and we hit some shots, and that always helps to get the confidence up a little bit."

North (11-13) took immediate control in the third quarter, kicking things off with an 11-0 run and holding the Spartans scoreless until the 2:09 mark. Jocilynn Ellis knocked down a 3-pointer to get the party started and then, just seconds later, scored on a rebound to tie the game at 26.

Kendra Straub added to Hillsboro's frustrations with a deep triple with 6:01 in the third, which gave the Black Tornado a 29-26 lead.

North delivered the knockout punch in the fourth, turning on a 9-0 run after Lauren Lykins evened things at 34 on the first play of the period.

The Black Tornado's fourth-quarter heroics included a 3 by Kendell Erb and an interception and layup by junior post McKensey Peters, who shined with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

"We realized we really had to pick it up," said Peters, who was double- and triple-teamed much of the night.

Bostwick said capturing the lead forced the Spartans out of their 2-3 zone defense. Once it had the points advantage secured, the Black Tornado used a handful of time-consuming possessions to help preserve the lead and foster judicious play.

Becca Allen had 11 points, Ellis finished with 10 points, Straub scored eight points and Erb added five points and four offensive rebounds.

"It was a good win for us," Allen said. "I didn't want the season to end."

North had lost nine of its last 11 games entering Friday's contest.

Hillsboro (4-21) came in on a 13-game losing skid. Lykins paced the Spartans with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six assists, six rebounds and two steals.

Tanya Jones had eight points and Cassidy Estep offered up seven for Hillsboro, which was troubled with turnovers throughout.

"We hang around with a lot of teams," Hillsboro head coach Lloyd Suiter said. "We are just really young ... This is a typical game for us. We just make enough mistakes at the end that we don't pull it out."

HILLSBORO (43) — Estep 7, Olson 0, Lykins 12, Schlanger 0, Salcedo-Freeman 3, Kust 4, Jones 8, Mathisen 4, Briscoe 0, Ciliberto 0, Alcazar 5. Totals: 17 9-23 43.

NORTH MEDFORD (54) — Ellis 10, Straub 8, Anderson 0, Martin 0, Thomas 1, Erb 5, Peters 15, Covington 0, Allen 11, Matagi 0, Murphy 4, Randleman 0. Totals: 19 11-26 54.

Hillsboro 12 14 6 11 — 43

North Medford 8 13 13 20 — 54

3-point goals — North Medford 5 (Ellis 2, Straub 1, Erb 1, Allen 1). Fouled out — Estep, Lykins. Technical — North Medford bench.

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

North Medford's McKensey Peters takes a shot during the second half of Friday's game. - Photo by Andy Atkinson