As the Siskiyou boys warmed up in their green uniforms for Saturday's fifth annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic, one player after another tried their hand at throwing down dunks for the crowd's enjoyment at the packed Olsrud Gymnasium at Kids Unlimited.
The Siskiyous sprinkled in a perimeter shot or two during the pregame show, but certainly not enough to serve notice on what was to come during the all-star game that features the top boys in the Rogue Valley from Class 6A to 1A.
Saving all their regular shooting for the 32-minute showdown with the Rogues, the Siskiyous shot a blistering 47 percent from beyond the arc and 52 percent overall en route to the most lopsided triumph in the history of the event, 102-82.
Cascade Christian senior Eric Morse set the pace by swishing four 3-pointers in the first quarter and his Siskiyou teammates took the baton from there, splashing in 14 treys in 30 attempts, to ultimately turn a one-point halftime advantage into a runaway victory.
The four previous MT All-Star Classics had been decided by a combined 15 points — and none by more than seven points — but the Rogues simply couldn't answer their hot-handed counterparts. Playing in the white home uniforms, the Rogues were a chilly 34 percent from the field in the second half (15-for-44) and shot 40 percent overall (34-for-86).
"This is a game where you're supposed to have fun and tonight they were a little hotter than we were and that was why they beat us by 20 points," said Phoenix senior Alex Young, who led the Rogues with 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals. "They were hitting 3s and we weren't and we were missing layups and they weren't, but other than that it was a fun game just to play in as my last high school game."
Eagle Point senior Jonathan Bolston came off the bench for the Siskiyous and knocked down three 3-pointers among his 13 first-half points, with several shot attempts coming from NBA range. Typically a slasher to the basket, Bolston said he simply took advantage of what the Rogue defenders were giving him.
"I knew they weren't going to guard me as close as I wanted them to so I knew if they gave me any room, I'm gonna shoot it," he said.
When the Rogues started guarding the 3-point line a little closer in the second half, Bolston went to work finding his teammates for open shots. Fellow Eagle Point senior Tyrone Holmes was the beneficiary of his teammates' focus, scoring 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half.
"I saw that they started playing me up closer and I knew he'd be wide open and I just gave him the ball and let him work," added Bolston.
With 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals, Bolston was named Most Valuable Player for the all-star boys game.
"I have a lot of respect with every last player here and it was just a lot of fun out there," he said. "I just love playing with different people and it just brings out the best in anybody. This is my first MVP so I'm pretty happy about it."
There were notable efforts around every corner Saturday, with Ashland senior Billy Hansen helping break open an eight-point game entering the fourth quarter with 10 of his 15 points in the final frame. His 3-pointer at the end of regulation helped the Siskiyous score the highest point total in MT Classic history. The 2010 game featured a 99-97 final, also won by the Siskiyous.
"We've got so many good players out here that we all just spread the ball and have a good time playing a competitive game," said Hansen, who also had seven rebounds and two assists. "The second half the shots started to fall for me, which is good, but really it was just about having fun and trying to get the win."
"We compete against all these guys for four years and finally we get to come together with all the best talent in the Rogue Valley to try to win a game," he added. "It's a great thing we're able to do here."
And as history has shown, it's provided a unique experience for all on the court to play a game with such diversity in school classifications.
Bolston, Holmes and Hansen all hail from 5A schools, while Young spearheaded a group of 4A talents that included Phoenix teammate Tyler Dungannon and North Valley's Jake Herklotz and JJ Chirnside. The 6A provided South Medford's Jack Singler, Jack Delaney and Matt Retzlaff, North Medford's Chris Faust, Jordan Browne-Moore and Derek Mautz, Crater's Justin Martin and Tony Scriven from Grants Pass. Ricardo Balero of Butte Falls, Scotty Kennedy of Prospect and Jesse Gilley of Rogue Valley Adventist carried the 1A torch, while the 3A group included Morse and Trent Eccleston of St. Mary's.
"It was a little more intense than I'm used to but it was very fun," said the 6-4 senior Gilley, who scored all seven of his points in the second half to go with two rebounds and a blocked shot.
"I think everybody's like, 'Ooh, they're 6A, they're big and bad,'" added Gilley, "but once you get to play with them they're just really great people. They're really fun to play with and they're really nice and I'm just glad I got to represent my school for this game."
For the Siskiyous, Faust finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, Morse had 12 points and three rebounds, Martin had 10 points and Browne-Moore totaled seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
Mautz added four points, five assists and three steals and Kennedy pulled down five rebounds for the Siskiyous, who were coached by Southern Oregon University assistant coach Brant Minor and took a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Rogues received 14 points and four rebounds apiece from Scriven and Chirnside, who also blocked five shots. Balero dropped in a pair of 3-pointers to finish with eight points, while Herklotz also scored eight to go with three rebounds. Delaney added seven points and three rebounds, Singler scored five points and Retzlaff had six rebounds and six assists.
Eccleston notched four points, five rebounds and two assists and Dungannon had three points, three rebounds and four assists for the Rogues, who were coached by SOU assistant coach Chris Schmerbach.
SISKIYOUS (102) — Tyrone Holmes 18, Jonathan Bolston 17, Billy Hansen 15, Chris Faust 12, Eric Morse 12, Justin Martin 10, Jordan Browne-Moore 7, Jesse Gilley 7, Derek Mautz 4, Scotty Kennedy 0. Totals: 42-81 4-4 102.
ROGUES (82) — Alex Young 18, Tony Scriven 14, JJ Chirnside 14, Jake Herklotz 8, Ricardo Balero 8, Jack Delaney 7, Jack Singler 5, Trent Eccleston 4, Tyler Dungannon 3, Matt Retzlaff 1. Totals: 34-86 4-8 82.
Siskiyous 25 22 22 33 — 102
Rogues 23 23 15 21 — 82
3-point goals — Siskiyous 14-30 (Morse 4, Bolston 3, Hansen 3, Martin 2, Browne-Moore 1, Gilley 1), Rogues 10-28 (Young 4, Balero 2, Delaney 1, Singler 1, Dungannon 1, Scriven 1).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry