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The story and headline had practically been written: Siskiyous dominate, cruise past Rogues.
The Siskiyous girls basketball team was in control against the Rogues for most of the seventh annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic at Kids Unlimited on Friday.
Propelled by South Medford sophomore Julissa Tago, the home team led by as many 24 points and owned a 12-point edge entering the final quarter of the contest that pits the top talents in Southern Oregon against one another.
Stop the presses!
During a fourth quarter that saw the squads combine for 50 points, the Rogues trimmed the lead to one point with less than three minutes to go before the Siskiyous prevailed, 73-69.
Tago received most valuable player honors after finishing with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds. She got the offense going early and helped fight off a surging Rogues club late after being substituted in.
"Our defense was beginning to break down at the beginning of the second half," said Tago, who also scored a game-high 18 points in last year's all-star game. "When we came back in (Siskiyous coach Lynn) Kennedy said to play good defense. I just tried to take good shots and find open teammates."
Phoenix senior Baylee Toney turned in 16 points and six rebounds to pace the Rogues, who trailed 23-8 after the first quarter and 40-22 at halftime.
The Rogues made just three of their 16 field-goal attempts in the first period and fell behind 32-8 after a Tago jumper in the second quarter.
To open the third, the Rogues went on an 8-0 run that was capped by a dart pass from North Valley's Lexi Pittman to Toney, whose bucket cut the deficit to 10.
The Rogues used a 7-0 run to kick off the fourth. Toney's free-throw makes with 6:13 to go made it 52-47, Siskiyous.
"At first we had the jitters," Toney said. "Nothing was falling. I think we were all just like, 'What do we have to lose? It's just an all-star game.' We just picked up our intensity a little and we hustled."
A layup by Toney made it a three-point game with 4:30 left. South Medford's Jasmin Falls scored for the Rogues with 2:57 remaining, trimming the deficit to a point.
Phoenix's Bailee Tally responded with a 3 for the Siskiyous — who finished with nine treys — and a layup by Tago made it 66-60.
The teams exchanged a couple of buckets before Tago knocked down two free throws with 42 seconds left to seal the triumph. She finished with eight points in the final frame after re-entering during the Rogues' comeback bid.
"(Tago) is really nice and funny," said Ashland's Michaela Dunn, who had 11 points, three rebounds and two blocks for the Siskiyous. "She just gives it her all all the time."
For the Siskiyous, South Medford's Keyari Sleezer had 13 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals and Tally 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Eagle Point's Adrienne Wood added nine points and three rebounds and St. Mary's Emily Alvarez chipped in nine points.
For the Rogues, Ashland's Georgia Williams recorded 15 points, Rogue Valley Adventist's Ashton Petray 11 points and Falls 10 points and nine rebounds.
Cascade Christian's Alaina Thomson added seven points and three rebounds and Pittman three steals.
ROGUES (69) — Alexia Hall 0, Jasmin Falls 10, Alexa Phillips 4, Georgia Williams 15, Baylee Toney 16, Lexi Pittman 2, Alaina Thomson 7, Lillian Martin 4, Anjelica Pamplona 0, Ashton Petray 11. Totals: 26 13-15 69.
SISKIYOUS (73) — Julissa Tago 18, Keyari Sleezer 13, Becca Heard 0, Michaela Dunn 11, Adrienne Wood 9, Bailee Tally 10, Curly Devos 1, Emily Alvarez 9, Kimberly Crow 2, Torri Lilly 0. Totals: 29 6-10 73.
Rogues 8 14 18 29 — 69
Siskiyous 23 17 12 21 — 73
3-point goals — Rogues 4 (Williams 2, Petray 2), Siskiyous 9 (Dunn 3, Wood 2, Tally 2, Sleezer 1, Alvarez 1).
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt