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...
Basketball players Ashley Bolston of South Medford and Tristen Holmes of North Medford have similarities in their games.
Perhaps none is more pronounced than the versatility they've shown in contributing to their teams' Southern Oregon Hybrid success, which is a big reason they were honored as the girl and boy player of the year, respectively.
The senior Bolston and junior Holmes were singled out in all-league voting by the SOH coaches.
Bolston was one of three Panthers on the girls first team — she was joined by Julissa Tago and Keyari Sleezer — and South Medford's Tom Cole was coach of the year.
Other first-teamers were North Medford's Joci Ellis, Crater's Courtney Setzer and Roseburg's Pele Gianotti.
In balloting for the boys, SOH champion South Medford placed two players on the first team, Ben Orndoff and Mark Winans, and Dennis Murphy was chosen the top coach.
Other first-team selections were North Medford's Julian Gray, Crater's Conner Lane and Grants Pass' Micah Johnson.
Bolston, the first Panther to win back-to-back player-of-the-year awards, and Holmes put up impressive season-long statistics in leading their teams into the Class 6A state playoffs.
Bolston has averaged 20.1 points per game in all contests, with a high of 38 against Salesian of California. Her high game in conference was 28 points against Grants Pass, helping her lead the SOH with a 19.6 average.
She also had averages of 10 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.1 blocks and 2.0 steals overall.
As for her all-around game, Bolston had double-doubles in three different categories: points and rebounds, points and assists, points and steals.
She also had four triple-doubles for the top-ranked Panthers, so it's little wonder Cole thinks she deserves not only the SOH honor, but others as well. He believes she should have been selected to play in the McDonald's All-American game, for which she was nominated, and should be a strong candidate for state player of the year.
"She's not only been a bright spot in conference," said Cole, "but she's done it against the best teams in the nation."
South Medford played against powerhouse national and regional teams in tournaments in Washington, D.C., and Stockton, Calif.
"In all of those occasions, she was the best player on the floor," said Cole.
Two players whom Bolston held her own against or out-played in head-to-head opportunities were Tennessee-bound Jaime Narid of Westview in Portland and Louisville-bound Mariya Moore of Salesian. Narid and Moore were selected for the McDonald's game.
She had her 38 points and 15 rebounds while holding Moore to 21 points in the Salesian matchup.
The 6-foot-2 Bolston signed last fall to play for Washington State.
"I think Ashley has consistently demonstrated this season that her abilities are comparable to any player that was selected to those national teams," said Cole.
Bolston, he added, doesn't care about such things.
"One of the things that makes Ashley pretty special is, she's not a kid who is driven by personal accolades and never has been," said Cole. " "¦ I think that's one of the traits that gives the best insight into what she's about: making her team better and winning basketball games."
Tago, a sophomore guard/forward, averaged 14.5 points in conference to rank third, and Sleezer, a junior guard, scored 12.7.
Ellis, a senior guard, averaged 13.8 points, and Setzer tallied 12.7 per game.
Similar to Bolston, Holmes does more than just fill up the basket, which he did at such a clip as to lead the SOH in scoring with a 17.5 average.
For the season, Holmes has tallied 18.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per outing.
The 6-2 guard began the conference season with five straight games of 20 or more points and has reached that benchmark 11 times overall.
"Then teams started to really concentrate on him a little more and started slowing him down a bit," said Plankenhorn.
But not much.
"I think it's well-deserved," Plankenhorn said of the top-player honor. "He's had an incredible season."
Holmes' versatility was regularly on display.
"A huge mark of his ability was, even though he could score, he contributed with assisting the ball, rebounding the basketball and sometimes we'd put him on the other team's best player to try to slow them down," said Plankenhorn. "He's just a special kid and has had a great season. We hope it can continue."
Gray, a senior guard, averaged 9.9 points in league play.
Senior wings Orndoff and Winans were South Medford's top scorers in the SOH, with averages of 13.8 and 9.2, respectively. Lane averaged 11.9 and Johnson 12.6.
Ashley Bolston, sr., South Medford; Pele Gianotti, sr., Roseburg; Julissa Tago, so., South Medford; Joci Ellis, sr., North Medford; Keyari Sleezer, jr., South Medford; Courtney Setzer, jr., Crater.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Ashley Bolston, sr., South Medford.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Tom Cole, South Medford.
Becca Heard, sr., Crater; Alexa Phillips, sr., Grants Pass; Fiona Johnson, sr., Roseburg; Jordan Stotler, so., Roseburg; Jasmin Falls, so., South Medford.
Emily Henderson, sr., Grants Pass; Sydney Thomas, jr., North Medford; Andee Ritter, jr., South Medford; Lauren Orndoff, fr., South Medford; Cheyenne Scott, so., Crater; Ashley Backen, jr., Roseburg.
Tristen Holmes, jr., North Medford; Ben Orndoff, sr., South Medford; Julian Gray, sr., North Medford; Micah Johnson, sr., Grants Pass; Mark Winans, sr., South Medford; Conner Lane, sr., Crater.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Tristen Holmes, jr., North Medford.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Dennis Murphy, South Medford.
Brian Luther, sr., Grants Pass; Carson Reid, sr., Roseburg; Aaron Brown-Moore, sr., North Medford; Jacob Hintemeyer, so., Crater; Brayden Massey, jr., South Medford.
Cameron English, jr., South Medford; Alex New, sr., Roseburg; Edmund Polataivao, jr., North Medford; Jason McKinley, jr., Grants Pass.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org