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Basketball game will enable stars to face each other

A standout basketball player during his high school years in California, Manny Crump remembers wondering what it might have been like to go up against some of his peers that were in different school levels.

He recalls how nice it would have been to get on the court with someone who was named to a higher all-conference status and settle their standing there.

One level playing field, with all-stars from throughout the area showcasing their abilities for all who might be interested.

It intrigued Crump back then and has continued to weigh on his thoughts since.

Years later, Crump believes he finally has the opportunity to provide such an event thanks to his deep ties to the basketball community and work through Kids Unlimited in Medford.

With the combined efforts of Tom Cole, executive director at Kids Unlimited, and Crump and the Mail Tribune, the Southern Oregon Basketball All-Star Game has been scheduled for Saturday, March 22, at either South Medford High or the Kids Unlimited gym.

Tickets tentatively are set for $5 to $7 apiece, with proceeds going to Kids Unlimited.

"My main thing is I'm just trying to promote basketball," says Crump, who is the basketball director at Kids Unlimited. "If this goes well, next year we'll make a few changes to make it even greater. This is a good thing, and it's only going to grow."

The event will feature East and West teams of 10 to 12 players for boys and girls, with player selection based on the all-conference voting done for the local teams from all six classification levels. While most all-star events solely involve seniors, the Southern Oregon Basketball All-Star Game will allow for involvement by underclassmen.

"Not always does everyone in the valley get to see the quality kids we have playing because of all the diversity and the way the conferences are divided," says Cole. "We thought this would be a good way to showcase Southern Oregon talent and build an event that would be unique and provide a little something for everyone."

How would it look to have South Medford's Michael Harthun running a fastbreak with Ashland's Dillon Thigpen as North Medford's Jordan Ellis and Crater's Nick Brothers race back to defend?

How effective could high-scoring Prospect guard Dakota Gordon be if he was clamped down defensively by a defender above the 1A level?

Could Cascade Christian standouts Jeremy Cheney and Scott Morse find any room to roam inside against a team that could clog the paint with the likes of Ashland's Matt Lipski, South's E.J. Singler and Phoenix's Mike Shepherd and Codey Barrett?

"I'm interested in seeing some of that, with players at the different levels all on the same court at once," says Crump. "For a kid at one of the lower levels to see where you're at, now here's your chance, and for the other kids it's another chance to show everyone how good you really are."

Currently, there are only two all-star basketball tournaments in Oregon: the Oregon-Washington contest and Metro-State game. By rule, high school athletes are allowed to compete in only two all-star games for a given year, be it local or national. As comparison, former South Medford High standout Kyle Singler played in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand All-American game last summer.

Singler, however, is the exception and not the rule for basketball players from this area.

"Outside of the Oregon-Washington and Metro-State all-star games, a lot of kids don't get an opportunity to be a part of this type of forum," says Cole, who also serves as South Medford High girls basketball coach. "I think this will be unique in that it allows a lot of kids to get together and play who may otherwise not have this opportunity."

Players from the following schools are expected to make up the teams: Grants Pass, North Medford, South Medford, Ashland, Crater, Eagle Point, Hidden Valley, Illinois Valley, North Valley, Phoenix, Rogue River, Cascade Christian, St. Mary's, Butte Falls, Prospect and Rogue Valley Adventist.

Coaches for the team have yet to be determined, but suggestions have ranged from this season's coach-of-the-year winners to local media personalities or leading community members.

Each all-star game will be played under regulation high school rules (four eight-minute quarters), with East players wearing their school's home uniforms and West players wearing their away uniforms. There may even be a chance for fans to visit mailtribune.com after the teams have been chosen and vote to select the starting lineups for each squad.

The girls all-star game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and the boys at 7. The venue will depend on expected turnout and the ability to provide the best possible experience for all involved. In the afternoon prior to the games, a skills challenge is also planned that will include a 3-point contest and obstacle course for dribbling and passing.

"We really want it to be something that's fun and gets people out to watch these kids who have earned their position and notoriety for their particular conferences and schools," says Cole. "We feel like this could be a bridge between the basketball communities who otherwise wouldn't have this kind of chance."


THE TELEVISION CAMERAS will roll again in the Rogue Valley this week when the fourth-ranked South Medford boys basketball team takes on Grants Pass in the regular-season finale for both Southwest Conference teams.

Continuing their effort to bring more local high school sports action to the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon ESD television will air a tape-delayed broadcast of the game at 6 p.m. Friday on Charter Channel 16 in Jackson and Josephine counties. The game, which will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday, will also air on Channel 98 on the Ashland Fiber Network.

The program will replay at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier telecasts this school season by Southern Oregon ESD included a football game involving North Medford and Grants Pass and a wrestling match between Crater and Eagle Point.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com