Black Tornado leaves Sheldon heads spinning

The Sheldon Irish fell to the Black Tornado, 70-59, in a Southwestern Conference matchup. Photo Courtesy of Zachary Neel.

EUGENE, Ore. - The Sheldon Irish went into Friday night looking to notch the biggest win of their season over the North Medford Black Tornado, who currently sit at No. 1 in the Southwestern Conference.

The Irish were blown off their feet within the first four minutes.

North Medford built a 16-2 lead out of the gate, and never looked back on their way to taking down the Irish 70-59, improving to 16-2 (5-1 SWC).

Senior guard Kaison Faust left his fingerprints all over the victory, scoring a game-high 21 points, 12 of which came in the first half.

"I don't know what he ended up with, but what he gives us we'll take," said North Medford coach Scott Plankenhorn on Faust's performance. "He's averaging 25 [points] and 8 [rebounds,] so when we don't get that from him it's a shock."

Oscar Banuelos, a senior guard for North Medford also contributed some solid minutes, finishing with 12 points, nine of which came in the first half.

From the opening tip, the Black Tornado ran all over the Irish (9-9, 3-4), beating them to loose balls and rebounds while forcing numerous turnovers and capitalizing with fast-break layups.

"They had a lot more energy than we did to start the game," said Sheldon coach Daniel Clark."On your home floor, you just can't have that -- you can't spot a team 15 points in the first quarter and expect to win many of those."

Despite being down 24-9 after the first quarter, the Irish were able to regain their footing a bit in the second frame, mainly due to Junior center Dominic McGarvey, who stabilized the team with eight points in the first half.

McGarvey finished the game with 16 points, and Sheldon was forced to lean on him late after both starters Patrick Herbert and Jaren Banks exited the game in the fourth quarter with injuries.

"[McGarvey] was just really aggressive, and he felt like he could go at the guys that were guarding him," said Clark. "He has that in him, and he's had a few games this year where he's been like that, and hopefully that's the way he plays for the rest of the year."

The Irish were forced to rely on McGarvey and senior guard Devante Bailey for offensive production, but they still managed to cut the lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter, trailing 62-52 with three minutes to play. Bailey finished the game with 13 points for Sheldon.

North Medford now owns the season sweep over Sheldon, after beating them 71-49 in the conference opener in the beginning of January. Despite the blowout win, Plankenhorn knew that this was not a game to look past.

"We knew this was going to be a chore, because we obviously started the conference season with them down at our house," said Plankenhorn. "This was a good game. I know the score may not show it but that is a highly competitive team, so we knew we had to be ready at the start and stay focused throughout."

Up next, North Medford will travel crosstown and take on South Medford, while Sheldon takes a break from conference play to travel to Sprague.

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