Prospect’s Dakota Gordon drives to the basket during Saturday’s All-Star game. - Photo by Jerry Clarkson

Ellis steals spotlight for Rogues

North Medford junior Jordan Ellis was a little disappointed with his performance during the skills challenge festivities Saturday afternoon in the Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic.

The 6-foot-1 guard more than made up for that showing a few hours later, however, as Ellis led his team to victory in the inaugural playing of the boys all-star game.

Ellis scored a game-high 20 points and added eight rebounds and five assists to help the Rogues stave off a rally by the Siskiyous for a 77-70 victory at South Medford High.

"I wanted to win something in the skills challenge, but I couldn't do anything during that time," said Ellis, who was named the game's most valuable player, "so just coming out and being able to play like that tonight and get this (MVP trophy) was nice."

From step-back 3-pointers to soaring rebounds and nifty passes, Ellis had his game working on all cylinders from the opening tip. The all-star atmosphere also seemed to fit him well, with Ellis displaying an on-court ease and steady smile when not in the game.

"I had a lot of fun the whole time, and I think a lot of other people had a lot of fun, too," said Ellis, whose 280 votes led in online voting to determine Saturday's starters. "It was a fun game to play in. It was an up-and-down game, and that's how we played at North, so it was fun for us. It was like an open gym out there."

Saturday's game featured an opportunity for players from all classifications in the Rogue Valley to lace up their sneakers in friendly competition, and it wasn't hard to get caught up in some of the sights.

Whether it was Skyline Conference rivals Trevor Porter of Hidden Valley finding Phoenix's Mike Shepherd down low for a basket or Rogue River's Carson Frantz blocking a shot by North Medford's Danny Berger in a 4A vs. 6A showdown, there was a little something for all.

Even if it took a little while to adjust for some.

"It was pretty nerve-racking, actually," said Rogue Valley Adventist's Tyler Robertson of Saturday's game. "I haven't played with this kind of level ever, so I was a little nervous ... well, really nervous, actually. But it was a great experience. It's challenging but it's fun, and that's the only way you learn, playing with people who are better than you. And there were some excellent players out here tonight."

Of his favorites, Robertson said, "They were all good ... but Jordan Ellis is definitely very good."

Shepherd garnered the lone double-double of the night with 17 points and 10 rebounds thanks to his relentless work on the glass for the Rogues, while Berger added 16 points and Crater's Nick Brothers chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds.

"I just tried to work hard out there," said Shepherd, a 6-4 senior. "There was a lot of talent out there. It's good to have this (all-star game) around because it makes everybody better."

South Medford junior Mitch Singler led the Siskiyous with 14 points and four rebounds, while fellow Panther Zach Haveman added 13 points and Ashland senior Matt Lipski totaled eight points, eight rebounds and three assists.

In other notable efforts for the Rogues, Eagle Point's Austin Rowley had seven points and four rebounds, and William Crowl of Illinois Valley pulled down eight rebounds.

Also for the Siskiyous, Ashland's Dillon Thigpen had nine points and seven assists, and Prospect's Dakota Gordon chimed in with seven points and five rebounds.

The Siskiyous had all nine of its players score at least one basket, although few drew as much applause as when Robertson or teammate Ryan Cool — who attracted a large following from their Medford Class 1A school — tickled the twine for the first time during a fourth-quarter rally.

Thanks to a 23-8 run in the second quarter, the Rogues built a healthy first-half lead and carried a 53-31 advantage into the final four minutes of the third quarter.

The Ashland duo of Lipski and Thigpen then began to assert itself as the Siskiyous went on a 9-3 run and pulled within 14 points heading into the fourth quarter.

A 3-pointer by Haveman to open the fourth trimmed the Rogues' lead to 62-51 and Lipski followed with a rebound basket to bring the game back to single digits for the first time since midway through the second quarter.

Berger and Singler each followed with baskets and, after a Shepherd score, Cascade Christian's Scott Morse finally found the range with a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer to cut the Rogues' lead to 66-60 with 4:45 to go.

Robertson, who also had five rebounds, answered a driving floater by Brothers with an inside basket off a Thigpen assist, but the Siskiyous went cold on their next four possessions before another inside basket by Robertson with 2:05 to play. In the interim, the Rogues built their lead back up to double digits on a pair of putbacks by Shepherd and a basket by Berger.

Frantz and Cool each scored to pull the Siskiyous within 74-68 inside the final minute, but Ellis put the nail in the coffin with 10 seconds to go by draining a 3-pointer.

"We fought back and I was very pleased with that," said Singler. "The second quarter was a little rough for us, but we came back from that and I thought everybody played hard."

While getting a flow in any all-star event is difficult, the Rogues seemed to blend together especially well.

"We just played really well together and shared the ball a lot and no one got mad if anybody shot the ball," said Ellis. "It was a good all-star game."

And one the players unanimously hoped would be around for years to come.

SISKIYOUS (70) — Mitch Singler 14, Zach Haveman 13, Dillon Thigpen 9, Matt Lipski 8, Carson Frantz 8, Dakota Gordon 7, Scott Morse 5, Tyler Robertson 4, Ryan Cool 2. Totals: 28-66 5-11 70.

ROGUES (77) — Jordan Ellis 20, Mike Shepherd 17, Danny Berger 16, Nick Brothers 12, Austin Rowley 7, Saxon Gotfried 5, Trevor Porter 0, William Crowl 0, Joey Knighton 0. Totals: 32-86 6-11 77.

Siskiyous 18 8 22 22 — 70

Rogues 20 23 19 12 — 77

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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