North Medford player has suspension extended

The family of a North Medford girls basketball player under suspension for punching another player met Thursday with administrators at the school and said her suspension has been extended to four games overall.

McKensey Peters was informed by the school on Wednesday that she would be required to sit out an additional three games beyond the one-game suspension already levied by the Oregon School Activities Association for her ejection at Grants Pass last Friday. The 15-year-old sophomore is the Black Tornado's leading scorer and ranks third in the conference at 14.1 points per game.

North Medford Principal Ron Beick and Athletics Director Tim Sam refused comment on the specifics of the suspension when contacted Thursday.

"Discipline has been implemented in this case," said Beick. "I'm not at liberty to say specifically what it is."

Beick and Sam met with Peters and her parents, Brad and Jessica, on Thursday at the family's request since Wednesday's meeting to inform their daughter of her punishment was done without them being present.

"It was just surprising," Brad Peters said of the school's final verdict. "I would think they'd reserve that type of penalty for maybe someone who has had issues, or other problems with in the past."

By rule, the OSAA mandates any player ejected from a game must sit out the ensuing game. Any further discipline is then made at the school's discretion.

"She needed to be punished," added Brad Peters. "She'll have to deal with it and get through it. My position isn't that she shouldn't be punished, it was just more than we expected and definitely more than the OSAA does and we were a little bit upset we couldn't get an answer to why other than that this is just what they decided."

McKensey Peters carries a 3.5 grade-point average and hasn't been suspended or in trouble at any point in her schooling until last Friday's heat-of-the-moment incident, according to her father. He also noted that she had written a letter of apology to the Grants Pass girls basketball program following the incident and turned that into school officials the first day back from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

"She's very regretful for what happened — as much as I've seen a kid — and never been in a situation like this before," added Sam. "She knows she put herself in a bad situation and feels horrible for her teammates and the school and Grants Pass. She's learning a lesson the hard way, but she's a great kid and will bounce back and be the better for it."

Brad Peters said he was under the impression that his daughter's penalty could be reduced to three games under certain stipulations, but Sam said he couldn't confirm such a possibility. At four games, McKensey Peters would return to the lineup on Feb. 4 against South Medford. At three games, her return would coincide with a home game against Grants Pass. She is eligible to practice with the team and sit on the bench for the games during the suspension.

"I'm hoping that it becomes official that it is three games and not four," said Brad Peters. "That is my hope."

Beick said the decision on extending the suspension wasn't made lightly.

"Obviously Tim and I go to great lengths to look at what happened, compare to things we've dealt with in the past and gather all the facts we can," said Beick, in his second year as principal and 17th overall at North. "Sometimes there's not one option but options with options depending on the severity and what's appropriate with the individuals involved."

It's that "up-in-the-air" quality about determining such penalties that frustrates Brad Peters but also causes headaches for administrators like Sam.

"There's no playbook for it," said the AD. "It's watching the video, discussing it with coaches and administration, looking back through similar circumstances, although circumstances are never the same in any two of those. There's lots of thinking and discussion and considering the individual kid. Again, McKensey's a great kid and never been in any kind of situation like that before. She's just been very positive in the classroom as well as on the court. We all make mistakes, but it's what we do and learn from those that defines us."

Sam also said having a cut-and-dry suspension policy simply would not be suitable.

"For my sake I wished there was one, so you could hand it out and say, 'OK, there it is,'" he added. "But I don't think you could ever possibly think of everything that could possibly happen and all the circumstances around it and put it in a handbook. It seems like everything's always a little different. I've never come across a different one like this one."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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