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North Medford settles for sixth place

PORTLAND — The effort was there but the timely baskets simply weren’t for North Medford as the Black Tornado closed out a solid campaign by settling for sixth place in the Class 6A boys basketball state tournament on Saturday.

South Salem closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to build a double-digit lead at 22-11 and, despite a second-half rally by North Medford, never let its lead dip below five points in holding on for a 73-65 win in the fourth-place final here at the Chiles Center.

“We played a really good second half but all those times we had a chance to hit a big one we just couldn’t,” said Black Tornado head coach Scott Plankenhorn. “And we couldn’t get enough stops or a missed free throw (at the end). Credit to South Salem on how good they are and how hard they are to guard. My goodness it was a challenge.”

The sixth-place trophy was the fourth trophy earned by North Medford (23-6) since 2008. The Black Tornado placed third in 2012 and fifth in 2008 and 2011.

“It’s been an incredible ride for us,” said North Medford senior Tristen Holmes. “We were picked to finish fourth in conference so it’s pretty crazy that we ended up finishing sixth in the state. I’m just really proud of the whole team and the effort that we put forth this year. It was a great season.”

The 6-foot-2 Holmes played a huge role in allowing North Medford to bring home some hardware. Holmes was sensational throughout the season but took his game up a notch when it mattered most, scoring 20 or more points in all five state playoff games. He capped his run Saturday with a team-best 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

“Five playoff games and all over 20 points? That’s absolutely amazing,” said Plankenhorn. “I don’t know what our single-season record is for points, I know he’s close with Danny Berger, and I’m not sure that he didn’t get it with the performance he had in the playoffs. He’s already crossed 1,000 for his career and what he did this year was unbelievable. He just willed this team to win and they followed.”

Holmes definitely drew the lion’s share of attention, and respect, from South Salem (25-4) during the morning finale.

“He was the engine for those guys and he kept fighting the whole game long,” said South Salem head coach Tyler Allen. “He’s a good, talented player. It was a privilege to be able to play against him.”

Black Tornado junior Brian Schireman scored nine of his 21 points to spark a third-quarter rally that made a comeback seem possible despite his team falling behind by 14 points by halftime. Schireman also added six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

North Medford senior Jared Faust, who finished with nine points and six rebounds, also gave his team a boost before foul troubles cut into his availability midway through the second quarter.

The Black Tornado had a good opportunity to put the Saxons on their heels to open the fourth quarter in a 50-45 game but Karter Dixon’s corner 3-pointer missed its mark and South Salem’s Rey Ruiz countered on the other end with a trey.

After a pair of misses by Holmes, Connor Fohn scored in transition and just like that, the Saxons had rebuilt their cushion to a comfortable margin. South Salem connected on 9 of 10 free throws in the final 77 seconds and went 11-for-15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter alone to deny the Tornado.

“We’ve seen North Medford play and we were shocked to see that they were able to come back against Lakeridge so we knew they never let up and never stop fighting,” said Allen. “We came out a little sloppy there in the third quarter but we brought it back together and had some key buckets down the stretch. I’m proud of the way our guys finished the game.”

Fohn led South Salem with 23 points and six assists and Ruiz came off the bench for 22 points, four assists and three steals. The Saxons finished 22-for-44 from the field, including 8-for-14 from 3-point range.

For North Medford, the biggest disappointment was in leaving Portland under the shadow of what could’ve been had the Tornado been able to cash in on its bread-and-butter 3-pointers.

As one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the state — North averaged 7.2 3-point makes per game at a 37-percent success rate (187-for-507) — the Black Tornado never could find the range at the Chiles Center. A 3-for-18 effort from beyond the arc on Saturday followed similar struggles in its first two games against Central Catholic (1-for-15) and Lakeridge (3-for-21) to drop North Medford’s totals to 7-for-54 (13 percent) for the tourney.

“We got here by making 3s at seven per game and we’re walking out after three games with sixth place,” said Plankenhorn. “If we could’ve just made some baskets out there, who knows where we’re at. We’re absolutely playing our hearts out and can’t get one to go in.”

NORTH MEDFORD (23-6)

Tristen Holmes 4-11 15-16 23, Brian Schireman 8-12 3-5 21, Jared Faust 4-6 1-1 9, Tyren Wolfe 2-6 0-0 4, Tucker Barry 1-7 0-0 3, Karter Dixon 0-4 2-2 2, Edmund Polataivao 1-2 0-0 2, Brad Allen 0-0 1-2 1, Alex Brothers 0-1 0-0 0, Jack Singleton 0-2 0-0 0, Isaiah Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Lasota 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-52 22-26 65.

SOUTH SALEM (25-4)

Connor Fohn 9-15 1-3 23, Rey Ruiz 4-5 11-14 22, Gabe Matthews 4-8 1-1 9, Jack Frazier 2-6 4-7 9, Jacob Ramos 1-3 4-6 6, Kahlid Thomas 1-3 0-0 2, Brent Kemp 1-3 0-0 2, Brendan Cabrera 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Stephens 0-0 0-0 0, Seth Erickson 0-0 0-0 0, Peyton Nash 0-1 0-0 0, R. Joseph Carey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-44 21-31 73.

North Medford;11;17;17;20;—;65

South Salem;22;20;8;23;—;73

3-point goals--North Medford 3-18 (Brian Schireman 2-3, Tucker Barry 1-5, Tyren Wolfe 0-2, Karter Dixon 0-3, Jack Singleton 0-2, Matt Lasota 0-1, Tristen Holmes 0-2), South Salem 8-14 (Connor Fohn 4-5, Rey Ruiz 3-4, Jack Frazier 1-2, Peyton Nash 0-1, Jacob Ramos 0-2). Rebounds--North Medford 29 (Tristen Holmes 9), South Salem 31 (Gabe Matthews 9). Assists--North Medford 7 (Tristen Holmes 3), South Salem 13 (Connor Fohn 6). Total fouls--North Medford 23, South Salem 22. Technical fouls--North Medford-Jared Faust, Tristen Holmes.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry