The impetus a decade ago for creation of the Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic was a desire to get top players from different high school programs on the court together.
That will happen when the 10th annual edition unfolds Friday in Medford at Central Medford High, the former South Medford High, at 815 S. Oakdale Ave.
But the game will also serve as a reunion for a number of players.
South Medford’s Lauren Orndoff, co-player of the year in the Southwest Conference, is paired on the Siskiyou girls team with, among others, Kaylene Ritter of Phoenix.
“I’m looking forward to playing with KK,” said Orndoff, who helped the Panthers win their seventh consecutive conference crown and extend their league winning streak to 90 games. “She used to play at South and we grew up together in the South program. It’ll be cool to play with her again.”
Ritter transferred to Phoenix following her sophomore year. She’s been the Pirates’ top player, breaking the school record with a 41-point game in a December win over Sweet Home that included 11 steals.
Another South Medford player, Jonnay Foote, is in the same senior class and will reunite with Ritter on the Siskiyous. On the opposing Rogues team will be Panther senior Hannah Washington, who shared top SWC honors with Orndoff, and sophomore Ula Chamberlin.
The All-Star games are being moved this year from Kids Unlimited, the beneficiary of the fundraising event, to Central because of renovation at the youth development agency.
Boy and girl players from 16 high schools in the region, classes 6A to 1A, are invited to play each year.
The girls game is at 6 p.m., and the boys start at 7:30.
Tickets for the doubleheader are $8 for adults and $4 for students. Kids 12 and under get in free. Both games will be live webcast on www.tablerocksports.net.
Starters for the games will be determined by online fan voting. To participate, go to www.mailtribune.com/sports. Balloting closes at noon Friday. Nearly 10,000 votes had been cast as of Wednesday evening.
The teams are coached by the staffs from Southern Oregon University and Oregon Institute of Technology.
SOU men’s coach Brian McDermott will guide the Rogue boys, and OIT men’s coach Justin Parnell directs the Siskiyou boys. SOU women’s coach Alex Carlson has the Rogue girls, and OIT women’s coach Scott Meredith guides the Siskiyou girls.
The South Medford-Phoenix girls reunion won’t the only one going on for the All-Stars. Many of the players have connections going back to youth ball.
Still, new friendships will be formed.
“It’s a good experience,” said Eagle Point senior guard Mario Quintero, one of 10 players — four boys and six girls — returning from last year. “You go out and have fun, meet new people and play with new people.”
All-Star games are noted more for offense than defense, and Quintero’s fine with that.
“It’s fun, yeah, people take shots they want to shoot and no one gets mad,” he said.
There has been no greater individual offensive display than that of South Medford’s Juli Tago, last year’s girls most valuable player. The University of Hawaii-bound senior closed out her prep career with an All-Star-record 42 points in the Siskiyous’ 76-61 loss to the Rogues.
“I remember Juli just went off,” said Orndoff, who nevertheless scored nine points to help the Rogues end a four-game losing streak and take a 5-4 lead in the series.
North Medford’s Brian Schireman was no slouch himself, tying the boys scoring record of 27 points to earn MVP honors. He paced the Siskiyous to a 75-66 win, their seventh straight.
Orndoff is looking forward to the contests.
“I think it’s a really good experience, being able to play with other players in the valley near us and being able to play against our teammates,” she said. “It’s a great way to end the season and bring everyone together.”
Other returning boys are North Medford’s Kaison Faust and Ashland’s Malik Pippa of the Siskiyous and Crater’s Kiefer Edwards of the Rogues.
Returning girls are Orndoff, Chamberlin, North Medford’s Rylee Karrick (Rogues), Crater’s Evie Kent (Rogues), Prospect’s Baley VanWormer (Rogues) and Grants Pass’ Jordan Kujawski (Siskiyous).
Here are the teams:
ROGUE BOYS: Brad Allen, North Medford; Kaleb Franklin, South Medford; Peyton Fuller, Ashland; Kiefer Edwards, Crater; James Turnbull, Phoenix; Kasey Copeland, Hidden Valley; Joel McLemore, Cascade Christian; Aaron Hansen, Rogue River; Skylar McLanahan, Illinois Valley; Jarred Gaines, Prospect.
SISKIYOU BOYS: Kaison Faust, North Medford; Riley Martin, South Medford; Tayler Phillips, Grants Pass; Malik Pippa, Ashland; Mason Vranes, Crater; Mario Quintero, Eagle Point; Owen Hornbeck, North Valley; Ben Dunn, Cascade Christian; Bryce Bramscher, St. Mary's; Kadin Ault, Butte Falls.
ROGUE GIRLS: Rylee Karrick, North Medford; Ula Chamberlin, South Medford; Hannah Washington, South Medford; Evie Kent, Crater; Carlene Hart, Eagle Point; Kaylee Krusemark, Hidden Valley; Amanda Stewart, North Valley; Emily Stephens, Cascade Christian; Jesse Langfield, Rogue River; Baley VanWormer, Prospect.
SISKIYOU GIRLS: Megan Fossen, North Medford; Lauren Orndoff, South Medford; Jonnay Foote, South Medford; Jordan Kujawski, Grants Pass; Mya Elder-Hammond, Ashland; Sydney Gray, Crater; Kaylene Ritter, Phoenix; Emma Bennion, St. Mary's; Aundrea Miller, Illinois Valley; Katie Munsell, Butte Falls.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org