Southern Oregon has been home to many prominent wrestling duals over the years, mostly thanks to the history of programs like Crater, Eagle Point...
South Medford's girls basketball team enjoyed a season of "firsts" this past winter and had another such honor come their way Saturday with the release of the Class 6A all-state basketball teams for girls and boys.
After securing the program's first state championship — also the first for the Rogue Valley in girls basketball — and the first 30-0 run at the big-school level, the Panthers hit another high-water mark with three players earning recognition on the all-state team. Fifth-year South Medford head coach Tom Cole was also named 6A coach of the year.
"I think they earned a lot of credibility this season, obviously, with how they finished and it's great to see them recognized for it," said Cole. "When you get three kids on there I think it's a reflection on not only their individual performance but truly for how the entire team worked and played together."
Senior Tess Picknell, a 6-foot-5 center, was named to the all-state first team, while junior guards Yaremi Mejia and Kylie Towry earned second-team selections. Central Catholic point guard Jordan Reynolds was named 6A girls player of the year.
The Stanford-bound Picknell averaged 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks entering the state tournament and was a force in the middle at the Rose Garden, pulling down 37 rebounds to go with eight blocked shots and 27 points in three games. She was a second-team all-state selection a year ago.
"When you have a kid who's her size and is capable of doing the things she did from a defensive end," said Cole, "that certainly was key in what we were able to do as a team. There's no question when it came time to close out the season, her presence was a big part of the formula."
Towry, a 5-8 shooting guard, paced the Panthers with 19.1 points per game entering the state tourney to go with 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. She averaged 12 points and a team-high 29.7 minutes per game at the state tourney.
Mejia averaged 13.7 points to lead South at the state tourney and came up with eight steals in three games. Entering play at the Rose Garden, Mejia avearged 10.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals.
"It's nice to see those kids earn recognition like that for the first time and give us three (all-state) players for the first time in our program history," said Cole.
As for his own all-state selection, Cole said he was definitely honored to be recognized by his peers but all of the credit was due to his players and their willingness to work together. The Panthers boasted five players who averaged double-digit scoring, including sophomore Ashley Bolston (11.5 ppg) and freshman Andee Ritter (11.7 ppg), and were not led in scoring by the same person for more than three consecutive games.
"I'm honored but I also know I'd sooner see more of the recognition go to the kids who played such a big part of making this so historic," Cole said in downplaying his role. "This was a special group of kids and they had an amazing season. What we did was so much about our team and a lot of people playing really important roles to make it all happen."
Grants Pass senior post Annie Edgar was an honorable mention choice for the 6A squad.
On the 6A boys all-state list, South Medford senior Jack Delaney was named to the second team and North Medford senior Chris Faust was an honorable mention selection.
Delaney, the Southern Oregon Hybrid player of the year, averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists to lead his 23-5 Panthers to the conference championship. The 6-2 post averaged 18 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals at the state tournament.
Faust, a 6-2 senior, averaged 12 points and 8.7 rebounds at the state tourney to lead North Medford to a third-place finish. During the regular season for the 24-4 Black Tornado, the SOH runner-up, Faust compiled 10.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He has signed to play at Oregon Tech next season.
Lake Oswego junior Calvin Hermanson, a 6-6 forward, was named the 6A boys player of the year, while Jesuit's Gene Potter earned coach of the year after guiding the Crusaders to their fourth straight title.
Class 6A All-State Basketball
Jordan Reynolds, Jr., Central Catholic; Jaime Nared, So., Westview; Kaylie Van Loo, Sr., Glencoe; Montana Walters, Jr., Oregon City; Tess Picknell, Sr., South Medford.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Jordan Reynolds, Central Catholic.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Tom Cole, South Medford.
Zoie Sheng, Sr., St. Mary's; Yaremi Mejia, Jr., South Medford; Kylie Towry, Jr., South Medford; Kailee Johnson, Jr., Central Catholic; Maddie Black, Sr., Tigard; Deven Hunter, Sr., McNary.
Rachel Mendelsohn, Sr., Jesuit; Hannah Rodrigues, Jr., Sheldon; Johanna Paine, Jr., Oregon City; Annie Edgar, Sr., Grants Pass; Karly LeVeque, Sr., West Linn; Jordyn Peacock, Sr., Southridge.
Calvin Hermanson, Jr., Lake Oswego; Khyan Rayner, Jr., Jesuit; JT Flowers, Sr., Lincoln; Avry Holmes, Sr., North Salem; Danny Brakebush, Sr., Central Catholic.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Calvin Hermanson, Lake Oswego.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Gene Potter, Jesuit.
Landen Lucas, Sr., Westview; AJ Lapray, Jr., Sprague; Mitch Cokely, Sr., West Linn; Jack Delaney, Sr., South Medford; Collin Spickerman, Sr., Jesuit.
Jarred Kelsay, Sr., Tigard; Jeremiah Harris, Sr., David Douglas; Chris Faust, Sr., North Medford; Alex Sattley, Sr., Lincoln; Nathan Suyematsu, Sr., Tualatin.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry