Slowed by injuries throughout the high school basketball season, South Medford’s Hunter Bradford was only looking to enjoy his time on the court with his body finally healthy heading into the eighth annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic on Friday night.
He got that and more in front of an appreciative crowd at Kids Unlimited.
With the 6-foot-8 junior leading the charge, the Siskiyous rallied for an improbable sixth straight victory over the Rogues, 94-91, in a game that features the Rogue Valley’s premier high school players from the 6A to 1A levels.
Bradford scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in a fourth quarter that saw the Siskiyous erase an eight-point deficit and then hold on as a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Ashland’s Collin Malcolm caromed off the rim at the buzzer.
For his efforts, which included 10 rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot, Bradford was named the game’s most valuable player.
“It feels good being able to be healthy and playing like I’m supposed to play,” said Bradford, who battled a foot injury and a concussion this past season for South Medford. “That was a ton of fun, I couldn’t wait to get out there. It was a great way for me to finish basketball and move on to baseball.”
Cascade Christian senior Jason Wyncoop added 16 points and seven rebounds, Rogue River junior Chris Campbell had 14 points and North Medford senior Tristen Holmes finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists to help lead the Siskiyous.
Campbell was the overall voting winner for the 2015 edition — in which more than 23,000 total votes were logged — securing 5,356 votes to be among the starting five for the Siskiyous in open voting at mailtribune.com.
“It means a lot to get that many votes because I don’t even know that many people ... or half that many people,” said Campbell, who opened the game by swishing a 3-pointer. “It’s really cool. We only have like 400 students (at Rogue River) so they must’ve voted a couple times for me. I just really appreciate all the support that not only I got but for everybody.”
Campbell said he also appreciated being able to go out a winner in the all-star event that featured many of his former AAU colleagues.
“I’ve played AAU with a bunch of these guys, like Brian (Schireman), Hunter, Brayden (Massey), and it’s fun just to come out here and compete in front of everyone with them,” he said. “It’s a nice end to the season.”
Campbell said his team had no doubts that it could pull off the comeback, even though they trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. The Siskiyous turned the game around in the fourth quarter with a 17-2 run that had Bradford’s fingerprints all over it. Bradford had three 3-pointers, three rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal that lead to a fastbreak layup by Holmes in that span for a 90-83 advantage.
“I knew he could stroke it but it takes him a little bit to get warmed up,” said Campbell of Bradford. “He came up big for us and it was exciting for him. I’m happy for him to get the MVP, too.”
North Valley senior Cody Thompson drained a 3-pointer to snap a long drought by the Rogues and North Medford junior Brian Schireman followed with a steal and eventual basket to cut into the deficit.
The Rogues had a chance to tie the game after that but Malcolm’s jumper missed the mark and, as is unique to the all-star event, Tornado teammates Holmes and Schireman went toe-to-toe under the basket on the opposite end before Holmes muscled in his second attempt for a 92-88 cushion.
One free throw by Malcolm with 1:17 to play and Schireman’s rebound of a miss by St. Mary’s junior Michael Crennen created another chance to tie, but Thompson was off the mark on a shot beyond the arc and Bradford scored on a putback to keep the Siskiyous rolling.
South Medford senior Brayden Massey split the defense for a layup with 4.6 seconds left for the Rogues to make it 94-91 and they got the ball back after forcing a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play. Malcolm flashed open in the left corner with 2.7 seconds to go and had high hopes for his rainbow effort over a charging Bradford from 3-point range.
“I thought that was going in,” he said. “It kinda sucked to see it rim out.”
Massey and Ashland senior Walker Shibley-Styer each had 15 points to lead the Rogues, with Massey also adding three rebounds and three assists. Schireman finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Malcolm added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Thompson scored 12 points for the Rogues, who were caught off guard by the Siskiyous’ surge.
“We were sitting on the bench kinda joking around and then the next thing we look up and we’re down by one,” said Schireman. “I don’t know what happened.”
Still, the loss didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits during the all-star game that was served as a benefit for Kids Unlimited. More than $40,000 has been raised for Kids Unlimited in the history of the Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic.
“That was really fun,” Schireman said of his first experience. “It’s weird going from the state playoffs where it’s so intense and win or go home to this, where you’re kind of just playing for fun with all these people you know. I’ve played with all these kids before but not in the past few years so it was cool to get back on this court with them.”
The second-highest vote-getter among the boys was North Valley senior Chris Morsa (5,106) of the Siskiyous, who managed seven points, four assists and three rebounds, while Eagle Point senior Ethan DeVore (10 points, two rebounds) received the most votes for the Rogues at 3,379.
Phoenix sophomore Thomas Skaff added 10 points, Crater senior Gunnar Asher had five points and four rebounds and Crennen added three points and three rebounds for the Siskiyous.
For the Rogues, St. Mary’s junior Connor Vinyard managed five points and two rebounds, Crater senior Race Reiter had four points and six rebounds and Rogue River junior Jordan Ehrhardt had four points, two rebounds and three assists.
ROGUES (91) — Brayden Massey 15, Walker Shibley-Styer 15, Brian Schireman 14, Collin Malcolm 12, Cody Thompson 12, Ethan DeVore 10, Connor Vinyard 5, Race Reiter 4, Jordan Ehrhardt 4, JC McKinley DNP. Totals: 37-84 3-4 91.
SISKIYOUS (94) — Hunter Bradford 22, Jason Wyncoop 16, Chris Campbell 14, Tristen Holmes 12, Thomas Skaff 10, Chris Morsa 7, Gunnar Asher 5, Mike Hults 4, Michael Crennen 3, Wil Bateman 1. Totals: 38-79 7-9 94.
3-point goals — Rogues 14-46 (Shibley-Styer 5, Massey 3, DeVore 2, Thompson 2, Malcolm 1, Vinyard 1), Siskiyous 11-28 (Bradford 4, Campbell 2, Wyncoop 2, Asher 1, Morsa 1, Crennen 1).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry