Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Yaremi Mejia and her Mail Tribune All-Star Classic teammates proved on Saturday that they might have a future in the newspaper business.
They certainly thrived under the pressure of a deadline at Kids Unlimited.
The cast of local hoops stars had but eight minutes to turn a six-point deficit into a story of triumph during the fifth annual all-star contest.
Mejia scored seven of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to help lift the Siskiyous to a thrilling 71-69 win over the Rogue squad in a game that pits the top talents in Southern Oregon against one another.
"When you have those kinds of games, you just have to use your fundamentals," said Mejia, a junior point guard for Class 6A state champion South Medford.
Mejia took home her second straight Mail Tribune most valuable player trophy for her efforts. She scored 19 points last year for the Rogues in a 76-68 victory.
The Rogues had won the previous four contests, a fact that was not lost on Mejia.
"It feels great winning the state championship and then getting the Siskiyous a win for the first time," said Mejia, who had 10 points at halftime.
No one before Mejia had ever won two MVP awards in the history of the philanthropic game, which benefits Kids Unlimited.
Crater standout Kasidy Cobb was equally dazzling for the Rogues, which stood tied at 29 with the Siskiyous at halftime. The senior knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points. She scored 12 points in the third quarter — hitting three triples, stealing the ball and scoring on a layup and knocking down a free throw — to give her squad a 53-45 edge entering the final period.
"It was really fun," Cobb said. "It was different playing with kids I've played against. I really enjoyed it."
But the fourth quarter belonged to the Siskiyous, who outscored the Rogues 26-16 to secure the W. The Rogues got off to a forgettable start, turning the ball over four times and missing its first two shots as the Siskiyous went on a 12-0 run. The hot stretch included two buckets from Eagle Point's Casie Johnson and a theft and layin by South Medford's Ashley Bolston.
Cascade Christian's Kelsey Cochran drained a trey with 5:20 left to bring the Rogues to within a point. The two squads proceeded to go back and forth before Hidden Valley standout Jenna King buried a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining, giving the Siskiyous a 67-63 edge.
Cobb's bucket with 20 seconds to go trimmed the Siskiyous' advantage to three points. St. Mary's Emily Alvarez made both her ensuing free-throw tries for the Siskiyous, and then Cobb sank her last triple with a second left.
The Siskiyous inbounded the ball and the final second rolled off the clock, ensuring a feel-good win for the players in St. Patrick's Day green jerseys.
The Siskiyous knocked down nine of their 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth.
For the Siskiyous, Bolston finished with 13 points (seven in the first quarter), King nine and North Medford's McKensey Peters nine. For the Rogues, South Medford's Kylie Towry had 11 points and Cascade Christian's Katie Aguilar eight.
"It was intimidating but it was fun to play against other good players," said Prospect star Heather Lass, who played for the Rogues.
Rogue River star Alli Ehrhardt and Grants Pass' Annie Edgar attended but were unable to play due to illness and injury respectively. Oregon Tech's Scott Meredith and Southern Oregon University's Lynn Kennedy were the coaches.
SISKIYOUS (71) — Peters 9, Mejia 23, Bolston 13, Alvarez 6, Murphy 3, Johnson 6, Ramirez 2, King 9, Funk 0. Totals: 25 16-25 71.
ROGUES (69) — Tago 4, Towry 11, Cobb 20, Scott 6, Shulenberger 6, Schmoll 5, Aguilar 8, Lass 4, Cochran 5. Totals: 25 11-17 69.
Siskiyous 15 14 16 26 — 71 Rogues 12 17 24 16 — 69
3-point goals — Siskiyous 5 (King 2, Bolston 1, Peters 1, Mejia 1), Rogues 8 (Cobb 5, Towry 1, Schmoll 1, Cochran 1).
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org