Tornado tightens up
Having lost their last two league games, the North Medford girls basketball team was determined not to fall behind in the Southwest Conference standings.
Just ask Grants Pass.
Junior post Savannah Bumgardner recorded 17 points and five rebounds as the Black Tornado blew past the Cavers, 47-29, during SWC action at North Medford High on Tuesday.
Though it is still early in the league season, the triumph gave North (12-4, 4-2 SWC) sole possession of third place in the conference race, behind South Medford (14-3, 6-0) and Sheldon (11-5, 4-1). The Tornado was coming off losses to the Panthers and Irish.
The top four in the SWC automatically qualify for the 32-team state bracket.
“We really want to win these league games, especially at home,” said Bumgardner, who shot 8 of 10 from the field. “It was huge.”
The struggle was real for Grants Pass (8-6, 3-3), which was outscored 10-0 in the first quarter, missed its first 11 shots and did not get on the scoreboard until an Abi Johnson jumper at the 5:39 mark of the second period.
Nine first-quarter turnovers were also hurtful for the Cavers, who have a 52-41 victory over Roseburg under their belts.
“Really North was able to do some great things defensively tonight,” Grants Pass head coach Scott Wakefield said. “I thought they had a really good defensive plan and we were cold as ice in the first half. We couldn’t buy a bucket. We really got behind the 8 ball there.”
The Cavers, who trailed 19-7 at halftime, did get within eight points early in the fourth quarter after a miraculous high-off-the-glass bucket by Alyssa Etheridge, who was fouled and completed the three-point play. But Grants Pass would miss its last 10 shots and go 1-for-7 from the free-throw line during that final stretch.
“Defensively I thought we took them out of some semblance of offense,” North head coach Tim Karrick said. “We didn’t execute all the time offensively, but we did well enough. It was a hard-fought victory. Grants Pass is tough and physical and gets after you. … It was a big win. We wanted to hold home court.”
Added Bumgardner: “Defense is what we pride ourselves on.”
Sophomore guard Maggie Freeman added 16 points and five assists and Joanna Ross six points with two 3-pointers, three assists and two steals for North. M.J. Hamilton chipped in four points and two steals.
Bumgardner was 3 of 3 shooting in the first quarter.
“She’s had some really good first quarters the last few weeks,” Karrick said.
Johnson led the Cavers with 12 points, and Jacque Luaders was held to seven points while encountering strong defense from Ross, Karrick said.
“You go back to the drawing board and keep getting better at things,” Wakefield said. “We’d like to be in that top-four conversation (in the SWC).”
North, which swept Grants Pass last winter, has a favorable stretch of conference games up next with South Eugene, the Indians and Willamette on deck.
GRANTS PASS (29): Wise 0, LaPan 0, Johnson 12, Musser 0, Luaders 7, Tobey 0, Dinkel 3, Etheridge 6, Kuiawski 1. Totals: 8-37 10-26 29.
NORTH MEDFORD (47): Lane 0, Ross 6, Bumgardner 17, Karrick 0, Hamilton 4, Mo. Fossen 0, Freeman 16, McLemore 4, Fisk 0, Me. Fossen 0. Totals: 19-44 7-12 47.
3-point goals — Grants Pass 3-9 (Johnson 2, Luaders 1), North Medford 2-9 (Ross 2). Fouled out — Me. Fossen. Technical fouls — North Medford coach Karrick.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt