Black Tornado topples La Salle
Having a star player who plays unselfishly has set the tone for the North Medford boys basketball team.
With senior wing Kaison Faust leading the way, North had assists on 10 of its 14 baskets in the first half, putting on a passing clinic, then cranked up its defensive pressure to pull further away from La Salle in a 68-46 victory Wednesday in the opening round of the Abby’s Holiday Classic at North High.
“We’ve got multiple guys that are just willing to pass the ball and it all just starts with Kaison,” North coach Scott Plankenhorn said.
Averaging 26.0 points per game, Faust is second on the team in assists behind point guard Oscar Banuelos — two-fifths of a scrappy, tenacious starting five whose hallmark is sharing the ball.
“I think that’s what our coach told us from day one, that we have one of the best scorers in the state so just play off him knowing that he’s going to look for you no matter what,” Faust said. “I’m always going to be a pass-first player, so if I’m attacking I’m always going to be looking around to see if my shooters are open in the corner and pass to them almost every single time.”
On a night when North had plenty to celebrate, fans of the Black Tornado let out a collective gasp when Faust fell hard on his tailbone in the opening minute of the fourth quarter after being undercut by La Salle’s Justin North while jumping up for a layup.
Faust, who finished with 22 points and four assists, was slow to get up and, after going to bench, sat of the remainder of the period while watching his teammates protect the lead.
“I’m feeling good,” Faust said. “I was little scared on that layup, but other than that I’m fine. I’ll be good for tomorrow.”
“I think was just an accident,” he added. “Stuff happens like that usually in this game, so I don’t blame (the defender). He was trying to stop me from scoring — it’s just whatever.”
The Black Tornado (9-1), winners of seven straight, came into the tournament looking for increased production from the bench to complement its solid senior starters and got exactly that.
With senior leader Banuelos on the bench to start the second quarter, juniors Darrius Wells (nine points) and Garrett Parker (six points, four assists) helped spark a 13-0 run after La Salle had pulled within 15-13 on a 3-pointer by Jace Norton, and other junior reserve, Jaray Thomas, hit a timely 3-pointer late in the first quarter.
“We’ve got guys that can do it. I mean, that’s the key,” Plankenhorn said. “Garrett really did come out and play well today and I thought Darius played his best game off the bench. And Jaray is coming along.”
Said Faust: “Any great team has some role players that you need. I think our bench really stepped up tonight, so hopefully they can continue it throughout the tournament.”
The Falcons (2-6) made four 3-pointers in the first half but were held to one trey after halftime, when North made a concerted effort to run them off the 3-point line.
Defensively, starting forwards Eli Spence (six rebounds) and Jake O’Connor (five rebounds) provided a tough interior presence, while starting guards Banuelos and Quinton Rumrey pressured the perimeter along with Faust.
La Salle had long scoring droughts to start both the second and third quarters and shot just 14 of 42 from the field for the game.
Jace Norton had 12 points and Nicolas Boyd scored 10 to lead the Falcons.
“There was a few things early that we didn’t like on defense,” Plankenhorn said. “I thought we were a little soft, letting them run their offense a little too easily. …I thought we did a good job of stopping that. And we got what we wanted.”
What the Tornado wanted was a shot at Southwest Conference foe Roseburg, a winner over Forest Grove in Wednesday’s other opening-round game at North High.
“It’s always a chore,” Plankenhorn said of facing a conference opponent prior to the start of the conference season. “You’d like it to be in a championship game instead of a semifinal, but it is what is and they’re playing really well.”
LA SALLE (46): Kersey-Bronec 5, Norton 12, Pisaneschi 2, Gabrish 0, N. Boyd 10, Massaad 7, A. Boyd 4, Bosco 1, North 0, Grogan 4. Totals 14 13-25 46.
NORTH MEDFORD (68): Wells 9, Sandoval 2 Banuelos 11, Rumrey 5, Thomas 3, O’Connor 0, Carpenter 0, Orozco 2, Parker 6, Faust 22, Spence 8. Totals 26 13-19 68.
3-point goals — La Salle 5-13 (Kersey 1, Norton 2, N. Boyd 1, Massad 1), North Medford 3-11 (Wells 1, Banuelos 1, Thomas 1). Fouled out — Sandoval.
ROSEBURG 63, FOREST GROVE 54: In the other opening-round game at North High, Roseburg built a double-digit lead in the third quarter and made enough free throws in the fourth to hold off Forest Grove and advance to the semifinals.
Junior guard Collin Warmouth finished with a game-high 26 points for the Indians (7-2).
Point guard Kyle Thompson scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Vikings (3-6), who take on LaSalle at 2 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
FOREST GROVE (54): Smith 0, Duve 6, Richards 2, Funk 0, Riley 5, Purcell 1, Kyle Thompson 23, G. Littlefield 8, D. Littlefield 5, Emerick 4. Totals: 21 6-13 54.
ROSEBURG (63): Crince 4, Johnson 9, Seely 3, Warmouth 26, Lake 7, Medak 2, Stone 4, Ellis 8. Totals: 21 15-24 63.
3-point goals — Roseburg 6 (Warmouth 3, Johnson 1, Lake 1, Ellis 1), Forest Grove 6 (Duve 2, Thompson 2, Littlefield 1, Emerick 1).