Having fun is always at a premium when it comes to playing in an all-star game, but after a while the competitive edge always seems to take over for some.
That was the case in the 10th annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic boys game Friday night, especially for the collection of Siskiyous players who had been somewhat taken advantage of through three quarters by the highlight reel Rogues at Central High.
Trailing 63-49 entering the fourth quarter, the Siskiyous opened the frame with an 11-0 run to put the spirit of competition back in play and never let up to steal a 95-90 overtime victory over the Rogues in the yearly gathering of the Rogue Valley’s premier high school players from the 6A to 1A levels.
“To be honest, I don’t know how we did it,” said North Medford junior Kaison Faust, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two assists for the Siskiyous. “It was just all good fun but I guess in the fourth quarter we just decided to step it up.”
No one embodied that spirit more than Eagle Point senior Mario Quintero, whose steal and layin in the final eight seconds allowed the Siskiyous to pull even with their foes for the first time since early in the first quarter.
On the fateful play, Cascade Christian junior Joel McLemore received an inbounds pass with 11.6 seconds to go but as a Siskiyous player closed in to try and foul him for a second straight possession, he quickly sent the ball back across the middle to his teammate to avoid the stoppage.
And that’s when things turned for Quintero, who was the leading vote-getter to start with 4,142 votes.
“He wasn’t paying attention (for the return pass),” he said of the fateful play, “so I just snagged it and went up with it hoping for the best, and it went in so that was good.”
Good turned to great in the four-minute overtime as Quintero took over, cementing his place as the game’s MVP by scoring the first 10 points of the extra session for his team.
As if that weren’t enough, the 5-foot-7 guard also pulled off an all-star game rarity by standing in to take a charge with the score tied at 88-all and 1:21 to play in OT. On the next possession, his three-point play gave the Siskiyous the last lead change of the contest.
Quintero finished with a team-high 21 points to go with three assists for the Siskiyous, who earned an improbable eighth straight win in the series.
South Medford junior Kaleb Franklin scored a team-high 21 points to go with three rebounds and three assists to pace the Rogues.
“The adrenaline picked up and we just pulled off the win,” said Quintero of the comeback. “It just happens like that I guess. My natural instinct is to get the ball in the fourth quarter or overtime and try to do my best and make plays.”
In an ordinary game, such a defeat would have been heartbreaking but the Rogues players understandably shrugged off the outcome after exiting the floor with all they really came for on Friday.
“We got caught up in the fun and just enjoying the time,” said Crater junior Kiefer Edwards of letting the game slip away. “It was so much fun out there, I love being part of this. I’m never OK with losing but it was definitely worth it, it was a lot of fun.”
The high-flying Edwards helped create that fun, with considerable help from North Medford senior Brad Allen, by throwing down five dunks en route to 20 points and 10 rebounds, the latter somewhat aided by rebounding a few of his own rim checks as layups simply wouldn’t do for this atmosphere.
“I was going for dunks,” Edwards said of his pregame goal. “It was the All-Star game and I was just trying to have fun.”
Allen helped play the perfect partner, using his 6-6 frame to pass over the defense to his 6-6 running mate time and again in hopes of bringing the crowd to its feet. Allen’s pass off the backboard to set up a two-handed jam by Edwards put the Rogues up 53-41 midway through the third quarter and was one of the signature plays of the night.
“I should’ve been in Kiefer’s ear more over the summer to come to North and have a little bit of that during the season,” said Allen, “but I told him tonight I was going to try to get him as many highlights as I could. Although Kaison has mad hops, having a guy like Kiefer also to throw hoops to is extremely fun.”
Allen finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in a clear effort to try and secure the first triple-double in MT All-Star Classic history.
“I was trying to go Draymond-style on everyone,” said Allen. “He’s my favorite player and I tried to give him a little love by working for that (triple-double).”
No matter which team came out on top, Allen said he felt like the game was a winning proposition for all involved.
“When you have the best players in the valley going at each other it’s always fun no matter what,” he said. “It was probably one of the biggest highlights of my year for sure. Playing with people that I don’t usually get to play with in a fun way, you just can’t beat it.”
Crater junior Mason Vranes joined Quintero in leading the Siskiyous with three 3-pointers apiece and netted 11 points overall to go with two assists. Grants Pass junior Tayler Phillips added 10 points and five rebounds and a breakaway dunk of his own in the fourth quarter.
The Siskiyous also got key efforts from North Valley senior Owen Hornbeck (six points), Cascade Christian junior Ben Dunn (five points, three rebounds) and St. Mary’s senior Bryce Bramscher (three points, five rebounds, two assists).
Butte Falls senior Kadin Ault drained a first-quarter 3-pointer and added three rebounds and Ashland senior Malik Pippa scored in the paint to pull his team within 67-66 with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
For the Rogues, Phoenix senior James Turnbull’s third 3-pointer of the game capped the third quarter with a 63-49 edge and he finished with nine points and four rebounds while Rogue River senior Aaron Hansen had eight points and three boards. McLemore was the leading vote-getter for the Rogues and finished with five points, three rebounds and three assists.
Hidden Valley junior Kasey Copeland (seven points, five rebounds), Illinois Valley senior Skylar McLanahan (three points, four rebounds) and Prospect senior Jarred Gaines (six rebounds) also played key roles for the Rogues.
ROGUES (90): Kaleb Franklin 21, Kiefer Edwards 20, Brad Allen 17, James Turnbull 9, Aaron Hansen 8, Kasey Copeland 7, Joel McLemore 5, Skylar McLanahan 3, Peyton Fuller 0, Jarred Gaines 0. Totals: 37-87 5-9 90.
SISKIYOUS (95): Mario Quintero 21, Kaison Faust 18, Riley Martin 14, Mason Vranes 11, Tayler Phillips 10, Owen Hornbeck 6, Ben Dunn 5, Malik Pippa 4, Bryce Bramscher 3, Kadin Ault 3. Totals: 34-88 16-23 95.
3-point goals — Rogues 11-35 (James Turnbull 3, Brad Allen 2, Kaleb Franklin 2, Kiefer Edwards 2, Joel McLemore 1, Skylar McLanahan 1), Siskiyous 11-36 (Mario Quintero 3, Mason Vranes 3, Riley Martin 2, Owen Hornbeck 2, Kadin Ault 1).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry