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North subdues South in SWC finale

North Medford’s boys basketball team had a plan and executed it to perfection Wednesday night in its regular-season finale against visiting South Medford.

Hoping to start fast and stifle the Panthers from the opening minutes, the Black Tornado did just that in turning the Southwest Conference matchup into a rout well before halftime en route to a 73-53 victory at North Medford High.

“The game plan was to play Black Tornado basketball and that’s what we did,” said North Medford senior Kaison Faust, whose team had already secured its second straight SWC title. “We just went after it.”

To no one’s surprise, Faust was a key cog in North Medford (21-3, 10-2 SWC) securing its fourth straight win over South Medford (7-16, 3-9) — trimming the team’s overall deficit in the series to 53-28. The SWC’s leading scorer tallied 10 of his game-high 25 points in the first quarter as he joined junior Eli Spence in attacking the glass to help the Black Tornado dominant inside the paint.

“I’m always told to do that, be aggressive and set the tone, and that’s what I did,” said Faust, who entered the game averaging 23.1 points. “I guess it worked out in the end.”

Spence finished with eight of his 16 points in that same first quarter, along with six of his nine rebounds, to help North Medford open a 21-7 advantage.

“Kaison is so special,” said Tornado head coach Scott Plankenhorn, “but Eli these last couple games has really come back into rhythm. … We’re just a different team with his athletic ability and energy on the floor like that.”

With Faust and Spence controlling the paint, North Medford didn’t need much else to overwhelm the Panthers but there proved to be plenty in reserve for the Black Tornado as Garrett Parker came off the bench to add 11 points and six rebounds and fellow reserve junior Jaray Thomas provided seven points and three rebounds.

By halftime, North Medford had built an insurmountable 45-16 cushion and simply played out the second half without a worry as the Tornado now sets its sights on opening the Class 6A state playoffs next Wednesday. North was No. 9 in the state power rankings as of press time.

“They’re going to pressure you and force you into turnovers and it was just a good job by them all night,” said South Medford head coach James Wightman. “That’s a good team led by Kaison and those other guys, and with the two guards off the bench (Thomas and Darrius Wells) and Parker they’re a solid eight. Hopefully they can make a run for Southern Oregon.”

Senior Nick Randleman totaled 16 points in the season-ender for South Medford, which stands outside the top 36 in the 6A power rankings. Austin Boster hit three 3-pointers for nine points and fellow sophomore Keegan Losinski added nine points and four rebounds off the bench.

What Plankenhorn and company didn’t want to do was allow the Panthers to get comfortable and carry any hopes of an upset on this night, and he was proud of his team’s dedication to not allowing that to happen.

“Obviously we’d already won the conference title but we’re still building on things and trying to get better every day,” said Plankenhorn. “I think in the last five or six games we’ve been really good and special at home.”

“We talked about how you’ve got to put guys on their back early so they don’t have any energy to try and come and make that upset,” he added. “I’m just really proud of the kids in the way we started the game with high energy and really good basketball. We were playing awful hard.”

North led 14-7 with three minutes to go in the first quarter when it went on a 26-3 run that ultimately put the game away by that same point in the second quarter.

“It was a great feeling,” said Faust of the runaway win, “because this is going to set the momentum for a big, big playoff run and we’ll see what we can do.”

SOUTH MEDFORD (53): Randleman 16, A. Boster 9, Losinski 9, Hunter 6, J. Owens 4, Fealey 3, Higgins 2, P. Owens 2, T. Boster 2, DeBoer 0, English 0. Totals: 21-53 5-7 53.

NORTH MEDFORD (73): Faust 25, Spence 16, Parker 11, Thomas 7, Banuelos 4, Wells 4, Sandoval 2, Carpenter 2, Angulo 2, O’Connor 0, Rumrey 0, Orozco-Bernal 0. Totals: 29-62 11-22 73.

South Medford;7;9;19;18;—;53

North Medford;21;24;17;11;—;73

3-point goals — South Medford 6-11 (A. Boster 3, Randleman 2, Fealey 1), North Medford 4-20 (Parker 2, Faust 1, Thomas 1).

JV score — North Medford 58, South Medford 22.

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

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North Medford's Darrius Wells gets the ball away from South Medford's Austin Boster during the first quarter on Wednesday. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]
North Medford's Jake O'Connor blocks Nick Randleman's shot attempt during the first quarter. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]