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Like everyone else in the Southern Oregon Hybrid, Maricela Aguilera and the Grants Pass Cavers didn't have much luck against South Medford this season.
When the senior guard found out she would be playing with three Panthers in the fourth annual Mail Tribune All-Star Classic, Aguilera was understandably pleased.
"I played against them when I was younger in AAU and in high school and we always got along with them," Aguilera said. "They are cool girls. I was excited to play with South."
South Medford's Yaremi Mejia, Tess Picknell and Kylie Towry — who helped push the Panthers to a 12-0 conference record — combined to score 44 points as the Rogue team topped the Siskiyous 76-68 in the Olsrud Gymnasium at Kids Unlimited on Saturday.
The wild contest was wide open until the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter, when the Rogues rattled off a 7-2 run to seal the victory.
Mejia, who turned in 19 points, was named the most valuable player of the game, which pits the top basketball talents in Southern Oregon against one another. The Panthers' sophomore guard converted a four-point play in the third quarter, and her second 3-pointer in the fourth increased her team's advantage to five with 4:30 remaining.
Picknell, a 6-foot-5 junior, had 13 points and Towry, a sophomore guard, added 12 points.
Mejia said having a few familiar faces on her side was enjoyable.
"We were running some of our plays and just having fun," Mejia said.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Rogues used a 12-0 run in the third period to build an 11-point lead.
A cold spell by the Rogues in the fourth left the door open for a Siskiyou rally. Kelly Ferris' putback with 4:35 to go capped an 8-2 Siskiyou run and trimmed the Rogues' advantage to just two points.
After a bucket by the Rogues' Mariah Moore (Butte Falls), the Siskiyous' Katie Powell (Crater) drained a triple with 2:29 remaining to again cut the Rogue squad's lead to two.
Moore scored once more before McKensey Peters (North Medford) knocked down a jumper with 2:11 to go.
The Rogues then made their crucial push, using a 3-pointer from Towry, a putback by Casie Johnson (Eagle Point) and a layup by Picknell to prevail.
"We tried to calm down and move the ball around and just tried to get wide open and look for Tess to finish it off," Mejia said. Kylee Adderson (St. Mary's) was a force for the Siskiyous, registering 19 points and knocking down nine of her 14 free-throw attempts. Powell had 13 points, Alli Ehrhardt (Rogue River) nine and Ferris nine.
"(Playing in the game) is amazing," Adderson said. "It is super fun and I have never really played against some of the girls on the other team or my team."
For the Rogues, Johnson (Eagle Point) and Jacquie Nicholson both turned in 10 points, while Moore had nine.
SISKIYOUS (68) — Katie Powell 13, Adrienne Engle 6, Laurissa Tausaga 4, Alli Ehrhardt 9, Kelsie Bradfield 2, McKensey Peters 6, Kylee Adderson 19, Kelly Ferris 9. Totals: 26 12-22 68.
ROGUES (76) — Kylie Towry 12, Kelly Maxey 0, Mariah Moore 9, Kara Fikso 0, Casie Johnson 10, Yaremi Mejia 19, Maricela Aguilera 3, Jacquie Nicholson 10, Tess Picknell 13. Totals: 29 12-19 76.
Siskiyous 15 21 15 17 — 68 Rogues 14 27 18 17 — 76
3-point goals — Siskiyous 4 (Powell 2, Tausaga 1, Ferris 1), Rogues 6 (Towry 2, Moore 1, Mejia 2, Aguilera 1).
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org