Four on the floor
Kaison Faust dropped in 14 points during North Medford’s semifinal victory Thursday, but the dynamic senior certainly wasn’t content with his performance on Day 2 of the Abby’s Holiday Classic at North Medford High.
Given a chance to make things right — at least in his own eyes — only 24 hours later, the 6-foot-2 senior wing took full advantage in the championship finale Friday against visiting McKay.
Faust exploded for 16 of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter to help propel the Black Tornado to an 83-59 romp past the Royal Scots and a fourth straight Abby’s boys basketball title.
“Yesterday was a pretty rough day,” said Faust, “so I felt like I owed it to my teammates to be their leader and start scoring better.”
Faust entered this year’s tournament averaging 26 points after converting a remarkable 74 percent of his shots from the field, but the iron was unkind in the semifinals and he finished 5-for-14 from the field.
That fire, along with an up-tempo pace, helped spur the senior to a much better showing Friday. Faust was 13-for-16 from the field and 4-for-5 from the foul line in his three quarters, and also contributed 10 rebounds and three assists to the Black Tornado (11-1) cause.
“My goodness, he was aggressive early and often,” said North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn, whose program has won 10 Abby’s titles overall. “He was getting to the rim and handling the pressure, which was huge for us. We knew they were going to come after us and they come from all over the place — you never know where they’re coming from it’s so scrambled — and Kaison and Oscar (Banuelos) really just handled it well for us and that led to us getting a lot of easy baskets.”
Banuelos, a 5-8 senior point guard, managed 14 points and five assists with steady defense against McKay and joined Faust on the all-tournament team. Other selections were McKay senior Andre Tovar, Roseburg junior Collin Warmouth and Forest Grove senior Kyle Thompson.
Friday’s triumph proved to be special for Faust, who ran his record to 9-0 in Abby’s appearances with three titles. North Medford has won four straight titles; only South Medford has earned more consecutive crowns (five straight from 1999-2003).
“Just carrying on the legacy for North Medford makes it special,” said Faust. “It passes on from generation to generation to the next group. This is our tournament, we should be winning it every year.”
The outcome certainly was in doubt after the Scots (6-4) answered everything North Medford threw at them through one quarter, trailing only 14-13. As was the case against Roseburg on Thursday, the second quarter is when the Black Tornado finally found its rhythm on both ends of the court and gradually pulled away for a 40-19 lead by halftime.
Faust was the main ingredient in that surge, converting transition layups and entry passes for easy baskets to go with five of his rebounds to keep McKay from putback opportunities.
“He was really tough,” said McKay head coach Dean Sanderson. “I thought we did a nice job in the first quarter on him but he certainly showed what kind of athlete and player he was the rest of the game.”
The Black Tornado was able to limit McKay to 9-for-28 shooting in the first half and 18-for-60 overall thanks to a determined effort by its entire cast. Tovar paced the Scots with 17 points but few came easy.
“I knew that we were going to have to shoot the ball extremely well to stay in it,” said Sanderson. “We knocked a couple shots down in the first half but not enough, and then I think fatigue set in with the third game in three days. We can play better than that but a lot of what happened tonight was due to (North Medford’s) toughness. They’re just a really, really good team; I think they’re the best team we’ve played.”
Faust said he and his teammates knew the tough task they had in facing McKay’s constant stream of pressure on both ends, and they were equal to the challenge. The Black Tornado had 23 assists and converted 53 percent of its shots from the field (36-for-68) despite an off night from 3-point range (2-for-18).
“They’re a really solid team,” said Faust. “What we did was just stay calm and execute our plays and basically made them play our style. It was just a good feeling knowing we stayed calm throughout the game and came out the champions.”
When Faust exited the game after three quarters, junior Garrett Parker picked up where he left off by pouring in all 17 of his points in the final frame. Junior post Eli Spence added 12 points and five rebounds, while senior Jake O’Connor had 10 rebounds and four assists and senior Quinton Rumrey shrugged off a tough shooting night to finish with four points, six assists and three boards.
With Lakeside Classic and Abby’s Holiday Classic titles under his team’s belt, Plankenhorn said North Medford is in prime position with good momentum heading into next Friday’s Southwest Conference opener against Sheldon.
“We’ve taken care of two of our goals and now we go for the big, long journey with 12 games in the next two months,” said the coach. “It will take a special journey for our team to get the next one but I like how we’ve been responding.”
MCKAY (59): Tovar 17, Joel 4, Rios 4, Ceja 0, Trumbly 4, Tipkins 3, Beach 11, Garza 10, Bangs 6, Beaty 0. Totals: 18-60 18-28 59.
NORTH MEDFORD (83): Faust 30, Wells 0, Sandoval 0, Banuelos 14, Rumrey 4, Thomas 2, O’Connor 0, Carpenter 4, Angulo 0, Orozco-Bernal 0, Parker 17, Spence 12. Totals: 36-68 9-12 83.
3-point goals — McKay 5-9 (Tovar 2, Garza 1, Bangs 1, Rios 1), North Medford 2-18 (Parker 2).
— Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry