The young North Medford girls basketball team saved their best for last on Friday night.
Freshman Maggie Freeman scored 13 of her 15 of her points in the second half, sophomore Savannah Bumgardner came on strong late and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds and the Black Tornado downed Thurston, 53-44, during Southwest Conference action at North Medford High.
Lexi Hall provided the initial spark after intermission and concluded with nine points for North, which has emerged victorious in three of its last four games.
The Black Tornado (7-6, 2-1 SWC) — featuring a roster with six freshmen, four sophomores and no juniors — trailed 22-17 at halftime before outscoring the Colts, 16-7, in the third.
"The difference was we took care of the ball, we ran our offense and we were more patient and made a couple adjustments at halftime," North Medford head coach Tim Karrick said. "Really the difference was execution offensively."
After a rocky first half for both sides, North began to find its mojo.
Hall scored the first five points of the third quarter to provide the Tornado a jolt of energy and tie the game at 22 with a made free throw.
Then Freeman found her touch, registering eight of her team's final 11 points in the quarter. The Tornado entered the final frame with a 33-29 edge.
"I took a while," Freeman said. "I didn't have very good angles in the beginning of the game."
North opened the fourth on an 11-3 run that was capped by a lay-in by Bumgardner, who scored consecutive buckets as the Colts scrambled to force a turnover.
"We noticed that they were really switching and trying to press us," Bumgardner said. "In practice we've really been practicing slowing down and keeping our heads in the game and that really helped us."
An Allison Rich jumper drew Thurston within six points with 1:27 to go before another Bumgardner bucket. An Anya Gallup score again made it a six-point game with 1:01 left before the Tornado surged back ahead with some free throws.
"That was a little scary," Bumgardner said of the Colts' unwillingness to go away. "I was looking at the score and was like, 'Come on, we've got to keep going.' I was trying to get the girls going and keep them up and keep them running down the court and getting the buckets in."
North — which bounced back from a one-point loss to Willamette most recently — went 10-for-15 from the charity stripe in the last eight minutes to seal the triumph.
"That was one of the best halves we've had this year, and it's a great time to have it," Karrick said.
Rylee Karrick added five points and three steals for the Tornado.
The two squads combined for 34 turnovers, with Thurston racking up 20 and North 14.
Freeman's second-half eruption was big, Karrick said.
"We need that from her," he said. "There is a lot on that 14-year-old's shoulders in terms of us and our offense and, in terms of the second half, she really came to play and did a great job."
Kendall Minium scored 14 points and Rich added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Colts (6-6, 0-3).
"(North) did a good job offensively in the second half, so I've got to give them some credit," Thurston head coach Derek Duman said. "And I'm not very happy with our defensive effort in the second half. We gave up 36 points and that is not what we are about."
THURSTON (44) — Aldrich 0, Gallup 4, Gilbert 1, Hunter 3, Minium 14, Ray 2, Regas 5, Rich 13, Stedman 2. Totals: 15-33 11-18 44.
NORTH MEDFORD (53) — Martin 4, Ross 5, Bumgardner 10, Karrick 5, Hall 9, Fossen 5, Covington 0, Kuykendall 0, Freeman 15. Totals: 17-40 19-28 53.
3-point goals — Thurston 3-8 (Minium 2, Hunter 1), North Medford 0-3. Technical fouls — Thurston coach Duman.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt