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Thomas returns as North Medford girls coach

North Medford High athletic director Brent McConaghy has had an eventful few weeks here recently and added to his haul of new coaches Friday with the addition of John “J.T.” Thomas as girls basketball coach.

Thomas’ hiring comes on the heels of the Black Tornado adding Morgan Barry as girls soccer coach and Nathan Chin as football coach one month ago. A wrestling position is still waiting to be filled.

For Thomas, it will be a repeat venture at North Medford after he served as an assistant coach for Mike Kay before taking over as head coach from 1999-2002.

More recently, Thomas has served as head coach at Cascade Christian for the past two seasons, posting a 16-20 overall record.

His coaching tree also includes a successful run as Crater girls basketball coach, moving from assistant to the head spot for the 2006-07 campaign and ultimately guiding the Comets to a third-place finish at the Class 5A state tournament in 2010. In seven seasons at Crater, Thomas compiled a 106-68 record.

“We established pretty early on with our program that we needed to have somebody that had connections to the community and then, more importantly, had a work ethic second to none,” said McConaghy. “Coach Thomas definitely has that. The other thing that was really big is coach Thomas is absolutely incredible at building a youth program and we need to rebuild that as well so we can be prepared to start to match South Medford at the girls basketball games.”

Thomas could be seen for years personally overseeing the youth programs at North Medford and Crater.

“Not only does he have the experience to do it,” said McConaghy, “but he has a plan that’s worked and has a plan that’s ready to be put in place and he’s got people that have bought into that plan at mutiple locations. If multiple different schools buy into the same person and philosophies he has as a coach and a leader, that’s something we want to be part of.”

Krysten Copeland stepped in as a late interim replacement for Terrence Readus this past season, with Copeland’s squad going 4-12 overall — with three of those wins over winless Roseburg. The Black Tornado averaged 25 points per game.

A year prior under Readus, North Medford went 7-17.

The Black Tornado has not enjoyed a winning season since a 2017-18 campaign that saw North tie Sheldon for the Southwest Conference title and finish 18-10 under Aaron Rayburn.

Thomas served as an assistant coach for Rayburn in his final 2018-19 campaign so there will be familiarity with some current and future Tornado.

In his previous run as North head coach, Thomas went 19-50 in three seasons.

Have a local story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Basketball hoop with ball inside top view