Today's battle of Pirates rife with subplots

Basketball fans looking for a matchup that has some teeth in it need look no further than today's 4 p.m. matchup between Phoenix and Dayton at the Wells Fargo Advisors Christmas Classic at Cascade Christian High.

You want to see some of the state's top junior boys basketball players in action? That game has it.

How about some interesting local ties? That game has it as well.

"There's a lot of little history right here (with Dayton) and it's pretty neat for all the kids," Phoenix head coach Glenn Johannes said Monday. "It's just fun to have something come together like this."

For the basketball purist looking for quality play, today's duel between the Pirates from the north (Class 3A Dayton) and south (Class 4A Phoenix) features at least four of the state's top players in the Class of 2012.

For those who like more subtle intrigue, Dayton's A.J. Hedgecock is the son of former Medford High star athlete Julie Vobora, who graduated in 1981 and went on to acclaim as a javelin thrower at the University of Oregon. Hedgecock's cousin David Vobora, son of 1978 Medford graduate Andy and current St. Louis Rams linebacker, was coached by Johannes while at Churchill High.

As if that weren't enough, Dayton's Hedgecock, Maika Ostling and Hayden Craig were teammates of Phoenix's Tyler Dungannon and Dalton Richardson from seventh grade to their freshman years on the AAU circuit.

Ostling, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound post, and Hedgecock, a 6-1, 185-pound guard, lead the charge for undefeated Dayton. Both played key roles in leading the Pirates to a runner-up showing at last year's 3A state tournament, with Hedgecock named first-team all-tourney.

Throw in the likes of Craig, a 6-5 junior, seniors Travis Bernards and Ben Manely and sophomore Nathan Bernards, and Johannes said Dayton (5-0) is as dangerous as any team out there.

"Their starting five is a really good starting five and can compete at any level, whether it's 6A, 5A or 4A," said the Phoenix coach.

Ostling is a matchup nightmare for any team, let alone the undersized Phoenix squad. Entering Monday's game against North Valley, Ostling was averaging 13 points and 9.3 rebounds. In rankings done by national scout Johnny Hernandez at as well as, Ostling is ranked third among Oregon's 2012 players behind Horizon Christian's Jordan Tebbutt and Landen Lucas, currently at Findlay Prep High in Henderson, Nev.

"I just have high praise for him," said Johannes. "I've coached four bigs that are playing or have played Division I and he's just as good or better than the kids I've had. He's got really good hands and he's more offensively advanced than normal high school bigs are, and that's hard to find. Usually you find kids that are just shot blockers or defensive rebounders but he's got a polished inside game and moves well on the perimeter and is a good shooter even beyond 15 feet."

Hedgecock serves as much more than just a complementary player to Ostling, however. He leads the team at 16.8 points per game and adds four assists, four rebounds and two steals per outing. Hedgecock is 24th on Hernandez's list but is generally considered one of the top junior guards in Oregon.

A well-rounded athlete, Hedgecock is coming off a football campaign in which he was named first-team all-state as a running back and he was also the 3A high jump champion last spring after clearing 6-0 at the state meet.

"He's a very athletic kid that also happens to play basketball," said Johannes. "He's smart and he understands the game and doesn't force many things."

Travis Bernards is second on the team at 13.5 points per game, just ahead of Craig (11.8 ppg), and leads the squad with seven assists per game. Nathan Bernards ranks second to Ostling with 7.5 rebounds per game, while Craig averages seven rebounds and Travis Bernards pulls down six boards per outing for Ron Hop's team.

As a counterattack, sixth-ranked Phoenix (3-1) utilizes a guard-oriented attack driven by juniors Alex Young and Dungannon. Young ranks ninth on Hernandez's list, while Dungannon is 14th. Both have had the luxury of deferring to upperclassmen during their varsity years, but the onus to shoulder the burden has come their way this season and both are rising to the challenge.

The 6-1 Young spent a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, adding 15 pounds of muscle, and has really stepped up his play at point guard thus far.

"I think that's built the confidence in him to get the ball more to the rim and he's scoring more of a high percentage from two-point range," Johannes said of Young's added bulk.

Entering Monday's game against St. George's BC, Young was averaging 26.3 points, 4.0 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game to go with five blocked shots. He put up 33 points and 12 rebounds in an 85-74 loss to top-ranked Newport Saturday.

Dungannon, who stands 6-2, is battling through tendinitis in his wrist and averaging 16.3 points and three rebounds. Last year, Dungannon played a pivotal role in leading Phoenix to a fifth-place showing at the 4A state tournament as a first-team all-tourney selection. He surpassed the previous tournament highs in field goals in a single game (13) and in the tournament (27) as the second-leading scorer (19.7 ppg) at the final site.

Alex Hobson is averaging 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, two steals and two assists, while fellow senior Justin Bohn averages 3.3 assists and five points and Richardson is adding four points and four rebounds per game.

"It'll be a tough matchup because we don't have the size they have, but we're going to do our best we possibly can to compete with those guys," said Johannes.

That may or may not include marquee one-on-one matchups between Hedgecock and Young.

"I don't think either coach is going to let them cover each other because they can't afford to foul them out," said Benjie Hedgecock, A.J.'s father, on Monday.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail Follow him at

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