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DeManby named SOC's top player

North's Gregg picked as coach of year

Travis DeManby's memorable basketball season got a little more memorable when he was named player of the year in the Southern Oregon Conference.

But he's had little chance to savor the honor since learning of it last week. DeManby and his South Medford teammates have been working hard to prepare for the Class 4A state tournament this week in Portland.

I set a lot of pretty high personal goals for myself this year, and being player of the year was one of them, says DeManby, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound wing who was a first-team choice for the second straight. I'm very happy to get it, and it's one of the highlights of what I've done.

If we can finish off the season with a good state tournament, I'll feel like the whole season was a success. But if we don't do better than we did last season, it would be a disappointment.

South, 1-2 at state last year, opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Sunset at Memorial Coliseum.

South senior point guard James Wightman joins DeManby on the first team in voting by the league's coaches at a March 2 banquet.

Other first-team selections were Klamath Union senior guard Mark Chocktoot, 6-foot-8 Roseburg center Matt Brown and 6-1 guard Obie Strickler of Grants Pass.

Chocktoot led the SOC with a 20.1 scoring average, followed by Matt Brown of Roseburg at 19.9, Crater's Matt Brown at 18.0 and DeManby at 17.5.

North Medford's Terry Gregg was coach of the year.

South coach Dennis Murphy says DeManby's player of the year award is a tribute to his work ethic and the improvement he made over last year.

Travis gives us all the elements of a player deserving of player-of-the-year honors, says Murphy. He's a good defender, on and off the ball, and he can shoot off the dribble. That may be the biggest thing he does.

He can defend a post man because he's gotten bigger and stronger, and he's a real smart player, says Murphy. It didn't matter much what we asked Travis to do this year. He would step up and do it.

DeManby didn't score as much as he's capable of because he plays on such a balanced team.

We had four guys all capable of leading the team in scoring every night, says DeManby, referring to himself, Wightman, second-teamer Adam Decker and third-teamer Bryn Ritchie. As a result, it took the pressure off me.

If I was having an off night and somebody else was hot, we would go that way, at least for a while, and I would try to do other things like rebound, pass and play defense to help the team.

On another team, where I might have had to score for us to win, I would have felt a lot more pressure than I do on this team.

DeManby says he hasn't decided where he'd like to play college basketball.

Hopefully, that will be decided at the state tournament, he says. I'm hoping to get some opportunities by having a good tournament.

Gregg was hailed by his peers after guiding an inexperienced team to fourth place in the SOC and a berth in the state playoffs. This despite losing point guard K.C. Rumrey, the team's leading scorer at more than 20 points per game through eight games, in late December due to a knee injury.

The Tornado did it with Gregg's trademarks: team play and aggressive man-to-man defense.

Any award like this is the result of extra work by players and your coaching staff, says Gregg. It's a shared award. I know it wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of those folks. I didn't do anything different this year. I had a committed group of players and coaches.

We had to do some things differently after we lost K.C. (Rumrey). The team improved through the year and they were a fun team to coach.