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PREP BASKETBALL: Tornado tightens up on defense

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North Medford defense allows its season-low output in a 61-27 shellacking of Sheldon

After about 16 years of keeping track, North Medford boys basketball coach Scott Plankenhorn has found that if you can hold a team under 54 points, there’s about a 90% chance your team will win.

Given that mindset, maybe the 10th-ranked Black Tornado should have been awarded two Southwest Conference victories for Thursday’s performance against Sheldon.

North Medford held the visiting Irish to single-digit scoring in each of the four quarters and provided a season-best effort on defense, stifling Sheldon for a 61-27 triumph.

The Irish managed only 13 field goals — all inside the arc — and went 1-for-1 from the free-throw line, while North Medford shot 48% from the field (22-for-46) and was 9-for-20 from 3-point range.

“We were super locked in on what our game plan was for them as far as keeping things out of the paint and making things more perimeter-oriented,” Plankenhorn said. “They didn’t make many shots, obviously, and no 3s, and we didn’t allow them to get to the foul line either, which was all pretty good.”

Trey Neff led the way for North (19-2, 7-1 SWC) with 25 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists, while Bryce Dyer added six points, nine rebounds and three assists and Austin McLean had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Joey Rubino scored eight points to pace Sheldon (7-15, 1-7).

The final team totals didn’t seem likely given the start of Thursday’s game, with Sheldon building a 6-0 lead that held firm through a tough opening five minutes for the Black Tornado.

After that, though, it was all North Medford.

The Black Tornado scored 11 straight points to end the first quarter and ultimately held the Irish scoreless for a near 10-minute stretch after their early surge.

“We finally got a stop there and got the ball to Trey and he made something happen and we just kind of really went on a tear from there,” said Plankenhorn. “Offensively, even though it wasn’t great we still led 22-12 at the half and kind of ended with some momentum.”

After halftime, North Medford seemingly could do no wrong and Sheldon struggled to find ways for something to go right.

Neff ignited a 24-7 third-quarter surge with a 3-pointer that was soon followed by a pair of 3s from McLean.

“Those were the big ones,” Plankenhorn said of McLean’s baskets, “because we get those from Trey a lot but to get Austin involved in the offense like that — with Bryce making the right read to get him the ball — was big.”

Sprinkle in a couple inside baskets by O’Shea Miller, a 5-for-6 effort from the foul line by Dyer and a personal 5-0 spurt by Neff and suddenly the Tornado found itself comfortably ahead, 46-19, entering the final quarter.

“The third quarter was a really good one,” said Plankenhorn. “It was a nice turnaround to be locked in defensively and then get the offense going as well.”

The win was North’s fourth straight after suffering a 67-39 loss to South Medford, currently ranked No. 6 in the Class 6A coaches poll. The Black Tornado has a full week now to prepare for Round 2 on Feb. 25 against the Panthers, who play at Grants Pass tonight.

“Every game’s important,” Plankenhorn said of Thursday’s win. “We just keep doing what we’ve talked about. South keeps running the table so we’re trying to keep running the table on our end to make it an important game (next Friday). We’ll see what we can bring to make that a better game than it was the last time.”

SHELDON (27): Kokkeler 2, Rubino 8, Frey 0, Line 0, Bryant 4, Leighton 3, Graziano 0, Mohiuddin 0, Parosa 0, Stapleton 4, Manago 0, Cramer 4, Winger 2. Totals: 13 1-1 27.

NORTH MEDFORD (61): McLean 11, Klug 0, Ty. Neff 0, Tr. Neff 25, Plankenhorn 0, O’Neill 8, Young 0, Miller 7, Orozco 2, Dyer 6, Goodrich 2, Dominguez 0. Totals: 22-46 10-15 61.

Sheldon6678— 27

North Medford11112415— 61

3-point goals — North Medford 9-20 (McLean 3, Tr. Neff 4, O’Neill 2).

JV result — North Medford 60, Sheldon 34

ASHLAND 43, SPRINGFIELD 32: At Springfield, Ashland sophomore Crosby Lehnerz scored nine big points off the bench to spark the ninth-ranked Grizzlies to a hard-fought Midwestern League win.

Junior Izzy Golden scored 11 points for Ashland (11-7, 8-3 MWL), which moved a half-game ahead of Crater in third place in the league standings. Junior center Egan Shields added eight points on a night when Hawthorn Lapierre was limited to just four points before fouling out.

The Grizzlies led 22-18 at the half but outscored the Millers 11-4 in the third quarter to get some much-needed separation.

Anthony Hill led Springfield (3-18, 2-11) with nine points.

ASHLAND (43): Stowasser 0, Lapierre 4, Golden 11, Wright 2, Thompson 4, Lehnerz 9, Barnes 5, Shields 8. Totals: 16 8-11 43.

SPRINGFIELD (32): Johnson 0, Vega 6, Kapihe 8, Napier 0, Hill 9, Navarrete 3, Lemley 3, Colter 0, Peterson 3. Totals: 11 2-6 32.

Ashland1391110— 43

Springfield99410— 32

3-point goals — Ashland 3 (Golden 2, Lehnerz 1), Springfield 8 (Vega 1, Kapihe 2, Hill 2, Navarrete 1, Lemley 1, Peterson 1). Fouled out — Lapierre. Technical foul — Lapierre.

JV result — Springfield won.

Girls

SHELDON 44, NORTH MEDFORD 36: North Medford junior Ali Stevens scored 13 points, including a runner off the glass to trim Sheldon’s lead to 39-35 with about 25 seconds to go, but the Black Tornado was unable to complete an upset bid of Sheldon.

The Black Tornado (7-14, 1-7 SWC) kept close to second-place Sheldon, which led only 11-10 after one quarter before a late surge allowed the Irish to enter halftime up 22-12.

Stevens also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Caileigh Raines finished with eight points and seven boards and North got strong defensive efforts from Brooke Richardson, Jaiden Gallery and Kiera McNamee.

Sheldon (14-8, 7-1) went 5-for-6 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds to fend off North’s rally.

SHELDON (44): Bruegman 11, Rhode 11, Wright 9, G. Harms 9, Miller 2, Raleigh 2, Sprouse 0, Pappas 0, Line 0. Totals: 14 14-19 44.

NORTH MEDFORD (36): Stevens 13, Raines 8, Lane 5, Patel 4, Boger 2, Hamlin 2, Richardson 1, Gallery 1, McNamee 0. Totals: 11 12-22 36.

Sheldon1111814— 44

North Medford102717— 36

3-point goals — Sheldon 2 (Bruegman 1, Rhode 1), North Medford 2 (Lane 1, Stevens 1). Fouled out — Wright. Technical foul — Sheldon bench.

JV result — Sheldon won.

SPRINGFIELD 72, ASHLAND 23: At Springfield, sixth-ranked Springfield built a big early lead and never looked back to claim the Midwestern League win.

Senior Gabby Heiken scored six points to lead Ashland (1-17, 0-11 MWL), while Abbey Lambert and Koura Sayre scored five apiece.

The Millers (15-7, 9-4), currently in third place behind Crater and top-ranked Willamette in the MWL standings, led 29-5 after the opening quarter.

Sophomore guard Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam scored 24 points and hit four of the Millers’ five 3-pointers.

ASHLAND (23): Montgomery 0, Sayre 5, Lambert 5, Caruso 0, G. Carter 0, Jenkins 0, Heiken 6, L. Carter 0, Robinson 0, Lundgren 0, Pokrob 3, Ayala 2, Pistole 2. Totals: 9 1-2 23.

SPRINGFIELD (72): Morgan 14, Wilson 5, Phillips 2, Smith 0, Bartlow 11, Henderson 7, Rawson 4, Weirner 3, Romero Ah-Sam 24, Cline 0, Ostrander 2. Totals: 27 13-20 72.

Ashland5774— 23

Springfield2917197— 72

3-point goals — Ashland 4 (Sayre 1, Lambert 1, Heiken 1, Pokrob 1), Springfield 5 (Bartlow 1, Romero Ah-Sam 4).

JV result — Springfield won.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Austin McLean blocks the shot of Sheldon's Rocco Graziano during the second quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Treyson Neff shoots for three points during the second quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Bryce Dyer shoots for two points during the second quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Andrew Plankenhorn saves the ball on a turnover during the second quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Bryce Dyer dives for the loose ball during the first quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's O'Shea Miller drives for two points during the third quarter.