Tornado turns it up in win over Grizzlies
Ashland got to play in its own gymnasium but that was about the only comfort North Medford afforded the Grizzlies in nonconference boys basketball Thursday night.
Using a defensive frenzy and an early onslaught by the Neff twins, the Black Tornado was able to open a double-digit margin midway through the first quarter and never looked back during a 79-44 win at Ashland High.
“I thought our defensive energy was where we’ve been talking about wanting it to be,” North Medford head coach Scott Plankenhorn said. “We came out and did what we really wanted to do on the defensive end, which led to the offensive end being a little easier because that led into break situations where it’s hard to defend, especially when you’ve got guys who can shoot.”
And no doubt about it, North Medford (1-0) proved it had guys who can shoot.
Seniors Trey Neff and Ty Neff supplied a lion’s share of the scoring for North in the opening 11 minutes, combining for 24 points as the Tornado’s lead ballooned to 32-8 and erased all doubt toward a final outcome.
Trey Neff, a first-team all-Southern Oregon Conference pick in the spring, finished with a career-high 30 points to go with eight rebounds in only three quarters of play.
Ty Neff added 12 points and six assists in a breakout effort of his own.
“I haven’t seen every player in the state play,” said Ashland head coach Sam Osofsky, “but I’d be surprised if there’s a better shooter in the state than Trey. He’s turned himself into quite the ballplayer. He sees a couple go down and you’re in trouble from there.”
North Medford senior Bryce Dyer complemented the twins’ effort with 13 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five steals in his own strong effort.
For Ashland (0-2), senior Hawthorn Lapierre finished with 23 points but none came easily, and most were part of his 12-point outburst in the fourth quarter.
Only 24 hours earlier, South Medford was able to take advantage of turnovers by Ashland to gain separation and that again proved to be the Grizzlies’ downfall. Ashland managed only seven shot attempts — making three — in the first quarter amid five turnovers and finished with 14 turnovers for the first half to fall behind 39-16 at the break.
North’s defense flustered Ashland into hurried shots when not turning the ball over, often leading to quick one-and-done trips down the court that kept the Grizzlies from gaining any momentum or ability to slow the Tornado.
“We got caught off guard and last night we were able to make some shots and settle ourselves down,” said Osofsky. “When shots didn’t fall tonight, it kind of snowballs on you a little bit and it’s tough to gain that momentum back and stop that slide.”
“I give full credit to North,” he added. “They came out and they defended at a level that we haven’t seen yet. That’s something we haven’t been able to replicate in practice. I thought their defense was in midseason form with their intensity and their physicality. That’s something I’ll take responsibility for, I didn’t think we were ready for that tonight.”
On the flip side, North Medford was chomping at the bit to see someone else in a different uniform after some energetic and sometimes testy practices leading up to Thursday’s opener.
“We’ve been having some decent practices, but we’ve been talking that we just need to go out and play somebody in another jersey finally,” said Plankenhorn.
“You could see that we were tired of playing ourselves. We’ve had some competitive practices, but it led to us finally putting it on somebody else and with the whole team flying around and supporting each other.”
Austin McLean was able to add five steals for North, which next plays at Beaverton tonight.
Ashland was able to come out of halftime strong with five straight points but the surge was short-lived as North regrouped and continued to find open seams in the defense to outscore the Grizzlies 23-12 overall in the frame.
“We feel like we have the opportunity to be a really special team this year,” said Osofsky. “We’ve got size, shooters and we play really well in spots. We’ve just got to find a way to put it together. When we built this schedule with South and North on back-to-back nights, we knew the challenge we were in for and we wanted to find out right away where we’re at.
“Our team competes and we’ve learned that about ourselves,” he added. “Now we’ve got to turn that competitive fire into a little bit more focus so that competition turns into execution as well.”
NORTH MEDFORD (79): McLean 0, Klug 9, Ty. Neff 12, Tr. Neff 30, Plankenhorn 0, O’Neill 0, Carr 0, Young 0, Miller 8, Orozco 3, Dyer 13, Goodrich 2, Dominguez 2. Totals: 32-58 3-5 79.
ASHLAND (44): Stowasser 2, Lapierre 23, Golden 6, Wright 0, Thompson 0, McNamara 5, Barnes 4, Shields 4. Totals: 15 10-11 44.
North Medford23162317— 79
3-point goals — North Medford 12-24 (Klug 3, Ty. Neff 2, Tr. Neff 5, Miller 1, Orozco 1), Ashland 4 (Lapierre 1, Golden 2, McNamara 1). Technical foul — Orozco, Lapierre.
JV result — North Medford 76, Ashland 28
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