PREP BASKETBALL

Who will step up and be this year's Harley?


Mail Tribune
March 19, 2011

LISTEN ON THE NET

WHERE: The Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic will be streamed live on www.chadwickssports.com. Click on the "Listen Live" button for local high school sports. The game broadcasts will be archived 24 hours later and available thereafter. There will be no live radio broadcast.

Two questions:

Should we name the boys MVP trophy in the Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic the "Harley?"

And ...

Who will be this year's Harley?

Tonight's hoop extravaganza brings together the top high school players in Southern Oregon, classes 6A to 1A. It's at Kids Unlimited, with the girls game at 5:15 and the boys at 7.

The idea behind these contests four years ago was to put the large-school standouts that we routinely cover on the court with the small-school kids who have similarly excelled.

Would mismatches abound? Would the players be of equal abilities?

Those questions were best answered last year, when Harley Casillas of tiny Butte Falls scored a team-high 17 points and made a couple of big plays down the stretch to lead his Siskiyous team to a 99-97 win over the Rogues.

(By the way, and off topic, when was the last time you saw a high school game in which both teams were within one basket of reaching the century mark?)

Casillas' smile was as wide as a backboard when it was announced he was the MVP. Even more heartening was the reaction of his larger-school teammates. They gleefully mobbed the young man headed for Logger lore.

Lore is not an exaggeration, either. Not long ago, a couple of electrical workers were doing a job at Kids Unlimited and one, apparently with Butte Falls roots, was overheard raving about Casillas' exploits those many months ago. Harley showed the big boys that the little guys could play, too, he crowed.

So, if you have the Oscar, the Emmy, the Clio and the Peabody, perhaps it's time for the Harley. We'll take that under advisement.

But who knows who this year's best MVP candidates are. Barring the unforeseen, the honor will go to a member of the winning teams.

We had a practice Thursday night and got a preview as the players joined their coaches, who installed a couple basic plays, ran a few drills, then turned the troops loose to scrimmage.

It was apparent then — not so much beforehand because we hadn't seen all the players in the region — that the Siskiyou boys have a size advantage, and some of those bigger kids are awfully athletic. There were more rim-rattling dunks at their end during warm-ups from the likes of North Medford's Jordan Browne-Moore, Eagle Point's Logan Winter and Tyrone Holmes, Phoenix's Tyler Dungannon and Illinois Valley's Jesse Bethke.

I walked to the other end and along the baseline, where Rogues coach Brant Minor, an assistant at Southern Oregon University, stood. Where's the beef? At the far end.

"That's OK," he said. "We've got some shooters."

As he talked, roughly six straight 3-pointers swished through the net just seconds apart. Enough said.

Josh Havird of South Medford and Billy Hansen of Ashland can fill it up for the Rogues. Braden Monnot of Hidden Valley and Caleb Allen, a freshman from Rogue Valley Adventist, knocked down a few.

The Rogues' best chance might be to run the Siskiyous silly. We'll see.

In the girls matchup, the Rogues have South Medford's 6-foot-5 Tess Picknell — no one on either team matches up with her — and Panther guards Kylie Towry, last year's MVP, and Yaremi Mejia.

I asked an opposing player after the scrimmage if the Siskiyous could take them.

"If it's not the South show," she said.

There's a lot of talent surrounding the South girls, too, but the Siskiyous aren't lacking and won't roll over.

Phoenix's Adrienne Engle sprinted in late from softball, took the court and made about five twine-tickling 3s in succession. One, I swear, was from out of bounds. Crater's Katie Powell, St. Mary's Kylee Adderson and Rogue River's Alli Ehrhardt will bring it, too, and North Medford's Alyssa Maurer and McKensy Peters have been through the wars.

The girls teams seem to match up pretty well, and another one-point game — the Rogues triumphed 71-70 in 2010 — wouldn't be surprising.

The question is, which of the stars will shine brightest? Come out and see.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com