North comes out firing in win over South Salem
It took the North Medford boys basketball team all of two seconds to score its first basket Wednesday night. For the next 15 minutes, 58 seconds of the first half, there were plenty of times where it looked like one-way traffic for the Black Tornado.
Behind a 35-point first-quarter blitz in which North Medford virtually put the game away, the Black Tornado rolled to a 93-46 win over South Salem on the opening day of the 31st annual Abby’s Holiday Classic at South Medford High.
“It was the defense,” said North senior guard Trey Neff, who scored a game-high 23 points “We came out hot on defense. We were just pestering (South Salem) all over the place, getting a lot of steals and that led to buckets.”
The sheer volume of points came in quite the game-opening flurry for North (9-1), which has won eight straight since suffering its lone loss of the season Dec. 3 against Beaverton.
The Black Tornado used a 14-0 run within the game’s first three minutes to set an early tone where four of North’s five starters contributed baskets.
By the time the first quarter was over, North was ahead 35-11, with Neff’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer on the left wing putting the exclamation point on a dominant opening period.
For as cold as it was outside the South Medford gym, North was pretty hot to open Wednesday night’s game.
“We just came out with great energy and our defense was really on point,” North senior O’Shea Miller said. “That let us get good buckets. We just had great energy throughout the floor.”
The energy didn’t let up much as the first half went on.
Case in point: North was comfortably ahead 63-25 at halftime.
In its last two games, North scored 63 and 62 points total.
“Defense is what makes the offense go,” Neff said.
“If we can get easy steals, it leads to easy buckets. We just got a lot of easy buckets tonight. It was super cool to see all of our shots going in. We were making extra passes and it just led to good shots — and they went in.”
That big of a lead had North head coach Scott Plankenhorn going back in the memory bank to try and remember the last time one of his teams recorded so many points in the first half of a game.
“I dunno … I think we’ve had some, but it’s been a while,” Plankenhorn said. “It’s been a while since we had a team score that many points in a quarter.”
Neff scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half and was one of three North players in double figures. Miller recorded 13 of his 15 points before halftime and also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
North senior Bryce Dyer nearly had a double-double of his own with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Ty Neff had eight points and 10 assists, many of them coming as the Black Tornado flew from one end of the court to the other in transition.
“We’re really close to having four guys averaging double figures and our other guys who aren’t scoring are the defender guys, so it’s a nice core of guys who are willing to share it and pass and play,” Plankenhorn said. “They’ve really bought into the defensive end, which allows an offense that flows. It’s more natural to get the basketball.”
The buy-in defensively was on display Wednesday night, much to the approval of Plankenhorn.
“Defensively, we’ve been pretty good all the way around,” Plankenhorn said. “We’ve had a couple of lapses, but we’ve been really solid on that end. That’s been our concentration effort in practice and it’s been showing in games that we’ve come out and really played solid. It triggers our offense because we get in transition and we have a lot of kids who can share it and make baskets. When you play defense you don’t have to play offense so often.”
Sophomore guard Eli Gabriel led the way for South Salem (3-5) with 16 points.
North wraps up its reworked schedule at the Abby’s Holiday Classic against Ashland — which lost 65-63 to Forest Grove in double overtime Wednesday — at 1:30 p.m. today, while South Salem faces Roseburg in the day’s first game at 10:30 a.m.
“I feel like every game we’re getting better because I feel like we’re bringing the energy, our defense is getting better, we’re practicing hard. We’re just getting better day by day,” Miller said. “It was kind of a bummer because we did want to play South since that’s our rival, but we’re going to play them again. We’re just playing our game and just going.”
SOUTH SALEM (46): James 7, Gabriel 16, Davidson 2, Barram 0, Feik 4, Stonerock 8, Comer 7, Nickel 2, Hiser 0, Lassahn 0, Pruett 0. Totals: 18 4-6 46.
NORTH MEDFORD (93): McLean 2, Klug 0, Ty. Neff 8, Tr. Neff 23, Plankenhorn 5, O’Neill 2, Carr 0, Young 6, Miller 15, Orozco 3, Dyer 19, Goodrich 5, Dominguez 5. Totals: 40 8-13 93.
South Salem1114813— 46
North Medford3528246— 93
3-point goals — South Salem 6 (Gabriel 2, Stonerock 2, Comer 2), North Medford 5 (Tr. Neff 2, Plankenhorn 1, Orozco 1, Dyer 1).
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.