Oscar's no slouch
One of the fun aspects of the Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic is it gives teammates an opportunity to go up against one another in friendly competition.
North Medford senior point guard Oscar Banuelos wasn’t about to let his chance slip by Friday night in the 11th annual contest that features the Rogue Valley’s premier high school boys basketball players from the Class 6A to 1A levels.
With good friend and senior classmate Kaison Faust anchoring the Rogues for Friday’s tilt after a player-of-the-year season in the 6A Southwest Conference, the 5-foot-8 Banuelos still found a way to stand tallest of them all at Kids Unlimited as he poured in 29 points to lead the Siskiyous to their ninth straight win in the series during an 88-63 rout.
For his efforts, which included four rebounds and five assists, Banuelos was named Most Valuable Player. His 29 points established a new MT All-Star Basketball Classic scoring record, topping the 27 points netted by former North Medford standout Brian Schireman in 2016.
“I just came out here wanting to have some fun, knowing I was going against my former teammate (Faust),” said Banuelos, who knocked down five 3-pointers. “I just wanted to show him what I was made of. Getting that MVP was something I never thought I’d get before.”
The scoring record was also a shock for the Black Tornado standout, but one he felt humbled by keeping the company of another North Medford great.
“Brian Schireman is a great player so beating him is an honor, honestly,” added Banuelos.
Records and trophies are always nice but certainly not what Friday’s yearly all-star game is about.
Just ask Butte Falls senior Dalton Lester, who plays at the 2A level but was reunited with longtime friend Kiefer Edwards of Crater to help propel the Siskiyous to the most lopsided victory in event history. The 25-point margin topped a 102-82 win by the Siskiyous in 2012.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot more competition than I’m used to seeing, that’s for sure,” said the 6-1 Lester, who had four points, four rebounds and one assist. “Being part of this means a lot because I get to come out here and play with some of the best athletes in Southern Oregon. It was a real honor to come out and play with all these guys.”
Lester said he had an inkling his team was in for a victorious night just by having Edwards on his side. The 6-6 Crater standout was equally as impactful as Banuelos with 28 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and several highlight dunks.
“I knew for a fact that we had a chance (at winning),” said Lester, “and since Kiefer was on my team, I knew I wasn’t getting dunked on so that was a plus.”
Edwards was one of four players making their all-star return along with Faust, Crater senior teammate Mason Vranes and Cascade Christian senior Joel McLemore. Edwards also was able to eclipse Schireman’s scoring mark after Banuelos had exited in the fourth quarter, but not able to get that one extra basket to put him over the top overall.
“Missed layups … they get you every time,” Edwards said with a laugh. “That’s OK, Oscar deserved the MVP, he did great. He went off, he couldn’t miss.”
Banuelos scored the first eight points of the second quarter to push the Siskiyous’ lead to 33-19 and it was never threatened after that thanks to an off shooting night and a host of turnovers by the Rogues.
“In warmups I was hitting a few shots and I knew it was going to be a good game,” said Banuelos.
South Medford’s Jesse Higgins, a 6-9 senior, scored nine of his team-high 16 points in the first quarter for the Rogues. He also had four rebounds and two blocks and was complemented well by Vranes, who tallied 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“I always watched this game when I was younger so it was super cool to actually be able to come out and play in this,” said Higgins. “Even though we lost it was still a lot of fun to play with these guys.”
Overall, the Siskiyous were 6-for-26 from 3-point range and 38-for-86 overall (44 percent) while the Rogues were 8-for-32 from beyond the arc and 26-for-77 overall (34 percent).
“Sometimes you’re hot and sometimes you aren’t,” said Faust, who managed six points, five rebounds and two blocks. “They shot very well and we just didn’t.”
“It was a rough night in general for me but I’m happy for Oscar,” he added. “He deserves (MVP), he played amazing. ”
North Valley senior Colton Lauby added eight points for the Siskiyous, while Grants Pass junior Taylor Anderson had seven points, McLemore added six points and five rebounds and Crater freshman Nathan Bittle had six points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Phoenix senior Javan Gail had five rebounds and two assists and St. Mary’s senior Jakab Bowling, who was the leading vote-getter among the boys with 2,239 votes, added three rebounds.
For the Rogues, Eagle Point senior Zakk Scott (eight points, five rebounds), Ashland junior K.J. Pippa (seven points, 10 rebounds) and Cascade Christian senior Tyler Cochran (six points, five assists, four rebounds) had solid all-around efforts. Rogue River sophomore Diego Agosto added five points and four rebounds, South Medford sophomore Sherman Hunter had three points and Prospect senior Brendan Raines added two points, three rebounds and two assists.
ROGUES (63): Jesse Higgins 16, Mason Vranes 10, Zakk Scott 8, KJ Pippa 7, Kaison Faust 6, Tyler Cochran 6, Diego Agosto 5, Sherman Hunter 3, Brendan Raines 2, Caleb Hess 0. Totals: 26-77 3-4 63.
SISKIYOUS (88): Oscar Banuelos 29, Kiefer Edwards 28, Colton Lauby 8, Taylor Anderson 7, Nathan Bittle 6, Dalton Lester 4, Joel McLemore 6, Jakab Bowling 0, Javan Gail 0, Quinton Rumrey (DNP). Totals: 38-86 6-7 88.
Rogues 19 10 10 24 — 63
Siskiyous 25 29 18 16 — 88
3-point goals — Rogues 8-32 (Higgins 2, Vranes 2, Scott 2, Hunter 1, Agosto 1), Siskiyous 6-26 (Banuelos 5, McLemore 1).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry