North surges into Abby’s final
It wasn’t looking good early for North Medford’s boys basketball team during Monday’s semifinal of the 25th annual Abby’s Holiday Classic at South Medford High.
Fortunately for the ninth-ranked Black Tornado, it has plenty of options to overcome all sorts of issues.
After Franklin put North Medford in a 10-0 deficit midway through the first quarter, Black Tornado head coach Scott Plankenhorn went in search of answers from his reserve players and that group responded with a definite spark.
With players like Karter Dixon and Tyren Wolfe flying around, Jack Singleton splashing 3-pointers and Alex Brothers playing tough in the low post, North Medford was able to turn the tide and eventually sprint away from the Quakers for a 71-52 triumph.
With the win, the Black Tornado (8-1) secured a spot in tonight’s championship game and will take on cross-town rival South Medford at 6 p.m. The Panthers edged Cleveland, 52-49, in overtime in the other semifinal.
Franklin (3-3) will face fellow PIL team Cleveland in the third-place game at 4:15 p.m. today at South Medford High. Tournament games will also be contested at 12:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
North Medford has won six tournament titles but has gone only 1-4 in championship matchups against South Medford, most recently dropping an overtime thriller in 2012. The Panthers have won nine Abby’s titles.
“We’re excited to be playing in the final,” said Plankenhorn. “It should be fun.”
Brian Schireman paced the Black Tornado (8-1), which is No. 1 in the Class 6A power rankings, with 21 points to go with four assists, and senior leader Tristen Holmes added 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists to complement the infusion from the bench.
“Our second group came in after a 10-0 start where we weren’t ready to play basketball for some reason and got us engaged and got us going,” said Plankenhorn. “Brian then got a feel off that and got himself really going, and that sparked us to a nice run of 33-11 to finish the half.”
A 3-pointer by Singleton was followed by a three-point play from Wolfe and another 3-pointer by Dixon to help North Medford close within 14-11 at the end of one quarter. The second quarter was all Black Tornado as Schireman scored his team’s first 10 points out of the break to wrench the lead away from Franklin for the remainder of the contest.
North Medford outscored the Quakers 22-7 in the second quarter, draining four of its 10 3-pointers, and ultimately took advantage of its experience factor. Franklin starts three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
“The second quarter was the telltale tape of the entire game,” said Franklin head coach Jeffrey McGee. “You’ve got to take your hats off to them, they did a great job. They nullified what we were trying to do, they did a pretty decent job on our big guy (6-foot-10 junior Joseph Smoyer) and they knocked down shots, which was exactly what they needed to do to beat us.”
Despite a valiant effort, Franklin was unable to cut into its deficit in a meaningful way over the final 16 minutes. Reserve forward Brad Allen gave North Medford a lift with six rebounds and a pair of steals, while junior Matt Lasota created a stir with 10 second-half points and two steals.
“There were a lot of sparks from a lot of different guys,” said Plankenhorn. “I thought Brad Allen came in for the majority of his first varsity minutes and played really well, and Matt Lasota came in and sparked us to really let us stretch the game out.”
Tucker Barry added eight points, three rebounds and a pair of assists for North, which saw nine of its 13 players score at least one basket.
“We’ve just got so many guys that can shoot it,” said Plankenhorn. “We’re a deep team and searching all the time for who’s going to give us the right minutes. That’s a good thing, and I think it’s a good thing for guys to know when they go on the floor that they better be prepared, otherwise they’re just going to come out.”
Smoyer finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for Franklin, while freshman point guard Ahmir McGee had seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Freshman Khalil Chatman and sophomore Nate Fields each had 11 points and four rebounds.
“We knew they were a good shooting team,” said coach McGee. “Our game plan was to make them shoot contested 3s, but the bottom line is we’re just young and they have that No. 1 seed (in the power rankings) for a reason.”
FRANKLIN (52) — McGee 7, Carlson 0, Doern 2, Jacobson 4, Stock 2, Chatman 11, Fields 11, Cunningham 2, Smoyer 13, Davis 0. Totals: 18 13-25 52.
NORTH MEDFORD (71) — Allen 2, Lasota 10, Schireman 21, Barry 8, Tri. Holmes 12, Faust 0, Williams 0, Dixon 5, Singleton 6, Polataivao 0, Brothers 4, Wolfe 3, Tre Holmes 0. Totals: 28 4-5 71.
3-point goals — Franklin 3 (Fields 3), North Medford 10 (Schireman 3, Lasota 2, Barry 2, Singleton 2, Dixon 1). Technical fouls — Barry.
SPRAGUE 54, MCKAY 40: Sprague secured its first victory of the season behind 17 points from Kaiden Flanigan and 16 from Cole Freeburg in the consolation semifinals at South Medford High.
The Olympians (1-7) opened a 24-19 lead by halftime and held off McKay (4-5) by converting 6 of 8 free throws in the final quarter.
Kris Williams had nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter for McKay, and Oscar Garcia added 12 points.
Sprague plays West Albany in today’s fourth-place game at 2:30 p.m. at South Medford High, while McKay will take on Roseburg at 12:45 p.m. in the seventh-place game. West Albany topped Roseburg 62-51 in the other consolation semifinal.
SPRAGUE (54) — Posey 2, Blea 5, Flanigan 17, Quitoriano 7, VanHouten 0, James 5, Freeburg 16, Miller 2, Kleinman 0, Long 0. Totals: 17 17-22 54.
MCKAY (40) — Williams 13, Bailey 0, Lebron 0, Gray 2, Garcia 12, Stone 0, Woods 4, Wilson 6, Agulair 3. Totals: 15 6-8 40.
3-point goals — Sprague 3 (Blea 1, Flanigan 1, James 1), McKay 4 (Williams 1, Garcia 2, Agulair 1). Fouled out — Woods. Technical fouls — Woods.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry