Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
When Kylie Towry was in middle school and about to make the transition to the high school level, she wasn't a no-doubt varsity selection for South Medford girls basketball coach Tom Cole.
Cole had coached Towry from fifth grade and beyond and knew she had something special, but it's not like the marquee measurements were in her favor.
Yet that didn't stop her from earning a starting role as a freshman. It didn't stop her from leading the team in scoring all four of her years in high school. And it didn't stop her from capping her run as South Medford's record-holder for career and single-season scoring.
"She was never touted as a superior athlete," Cole said Monday, "but what she did do is she worked extremely hard and that work ethic to get better was why she was able to do what she did for us. She wasn't 6-foot tall or the fastest kid down the floor with some amazing vertical. Kylie didn't have that but in spite of that found tremendous success."
The 5-9 shooting guard used her deft stroke from 3-point range and extraordinary work ethic to amass 1,813 points in her 114 games as a Panther. The 553 points she scored as a junior, when South Medford went 30-0 and earned the Class 6A state championship, stands as the single-season record at the school.
"It means a lot," Towry said of holding the scoring records. "Hard work pays off, I guess."
Next up for her will be the Northwest Shootout, which makes its return after a one-year hiatus after gaining Buffalo Wild Wings as a main sponsor. Towry was one of 10 players selected to compete for the Oregon girls team which will square off against a Washington squad at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Chiles Center at the University of Portland. The boys game is at 6.
Towry not only secured the career scoring record, she obliterated the previous standard set by Whitney Grant. Grant, a 2002 graduate, totaled 954 points as a Panther and, in her senior season, eclipsed the previous mark of 920 set by Kellie Thomas.
Towry scored 331 points in 27 games as a freshman, 447 in 28 games as a sophomore and broke the record as a junior. She tallied 452 points in 29 games as a senior to come close to doubling Grant's total.
"A lot of credit to making it happen for me has to come down to my team with all the assists and teamwork in general," said the 18-year-old Towry.
Credit also has to go to Towry for spending hour after hour working to be the best player she could be.
"First of all, she's one of the most intense competitors that we've had," said Cole. "I think her desire to want to be better was what elevated her — going from this kid during her summer transition to high school that wasn't necessarily someone I counted on, to being instrumental and not only making the varsity her freshman year, but being a first-team all-conference kid."
"Each year, to her credit, she really focused on wanting to get better and improved," added Cole, "and I think her numbers over her four-year period of time certainly reflect that. In terms of being a pure shooter, she's one of the best we've ever had."
With all the transition baskets set up by fellow senior Yaremi Mejia and open opportunities supplied by the likes of Tess Picknell, Luisa Tago, Ashley Bolston and Andee Ritter over the years, Towry enjoyed playing with the most complete Panther teams during her run. It's what the core of that group was able to accomplish, a state title in 2012 and runner-up finish in 2013, that Towry is most proud of during her career.
"That's the greatest impact that I hope will be remembered," she said. "In the end we won a state championship and accomplished an undefeated season, and it's still a good accomplishment to end up as the runner-up."
Now there's the Northwest Shootout, for which she's the only Rogue Valley representative on either team.
"I'm excited for it," said Towry. "It's great to come from southern Oregon and get a chance to represent my school and everyone here. It's exciting to get to play with these players that I never would think I would play with. I've played against almost all of them and it's weird to think I'm on their team now."
Joining Towry will be Central Catholic's Jordan Reynolds and Kailee Johnson, Oregon City's Johanna Paine and Montana Walters, Westview's Delanie Parry and Sara Curl, Milwaukie's Alexis Noren, Beaverton's Alexis Montgomery and Glencoe's Marly Anderson.
The Washington boys and girls have each won the past five Northwest Shootouts, with the Washington girls holding a 10-8 lead in the series.
Towry said the Oregon group got together this past weekend for practice, mostly just to get to know one another, and will ramp it up again on Friday before taking to the floor Saturday.
"We have some confidence in ourselves so we believe that we can win," said Towry. "All the girls out there are pretty competitive."
As for Towry, she hasn't decided on where she'll play basketball next fall in college. She has made a couple visits and plans to make a few more before finalizing her plans.
"No matter where she ends up playing," said Cole, "that school is going to get a kid who is going to work really hard. She can be a great role model for those who may not otherwise have that going for them. Kylie's going to do fine."
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry