Hidden Valley's Taylor Bars makes a leaping save during the Mail Tribune All-Star Classic at Kids Unlimited on Saturday. - Jamie Lusch

Siskiyous ride Harley to win

Heading into the third annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic, there really wasn't much "big" about Harley Casillas.

The Butte Falls senior stands 5-foot-8, plays in the smallest of the six classifications in Oregon high school athletics and wasn't exactly the most talked about name on his Siskiyous all-star team roster.

In fact, Casillas was one of only three players who failed to score in last year's game, which pits the top basketball talents in Southern Oregon against one another.

Once the final horn sounded Saturday night in Medford, however, no one came up with a bigger effort than Casillas.

The Butte Falls fan favorite scored a team-high 17 points and came up with a pair of big plays late in the contest to lead his team to a thrilling 99-97 comeback victory over the Rogues in front of a packed house in the Olsrud Gymnasium at Kids Unlimited.

The only thing bigger than Casillas' performance was his smile after being named MVP of the all-star contest.

"It was a big experience for me," said Casillas, who had also played a baseball game for the Loggers earlier in the day. "I play against little schools and going against these 6A, 5A and all the way down to 2A kids, it was just a great experience for me and just showed what I can do and that 1A isn't about less experienced kids."

The Mountain Valley League player of the year had eight of his points in the first half, which ended with the Rogues using a late surge to take a 51-45 lead into intermission.

The back-and-forth nature of such an event took a decided turn in momentum with about 5 1/2 minutes to go when Casillas followed a basket by Crater teammate Thomas Reed with a banked-in 3-pointer from in front of the Siskiyous bench to give his team an 81-79 lead.

"They were telling me to shoot because I was hot," Casillas said of his third 3-pointer of the game. "I shot it and I called the bank afterwards because I knew it was off from the start, right after it left my fingertips. It was a big momentum-changer for us."

Seconds later, Casillas came up with a steal and pushed the ball downcourt for a lay-in to send the gym into a frenzy with 5:01 to play as each team switched out its entire lineup.

"For the last game of my basketball career, that was a pretty good effort," Casillas said of the scoring surge after the game. "I loved it, especially all the support I got (from the fans and his teammates)."

The Siskiyous built their lead to 90-81 behind baskets by Crater's Josh Dalton, South Medford's Mike Brassel and Hidden Valley's Cody Krauss, but the Rogues dialed up their defense to set up a fantastic finish.

After a pull-up jumper by Ashland's Adam Pavlich, the senior harkened back on his soccer skills on a half-court trap to earn an unconventional steal. As a Siskiyous player tried to push the basketball through the defense, Pavlich managed a subtle volley of the ball upcourt with his right foot and then tracked it down. Pavlich took a couple dribbles and then netted a 3-pointer that turned into a four-point play moments later after he was fouled on the shot.

With their lead whittled down to 90-87 with 2:09 to play, the Siskiyous got a 3-pointer from Dalton but Roger Hults of Illinois Valley answered with his own shot beyond the arc.

Cascade Christian's Colton Cochran then came up with a blocked shot of Eagle Point's Logan Winter and the ball quickly made its way to Hults for an alley-oop layin. The crowd's excitement continued to build as a quick outlet resulted in a dunk by Winter after he was left all alone downcourt, but Cochran answered with a driving basket and ensuing free throw after being fouled to knot the score at 95-all with 51 seconds to go.

A steal by North Valley's Jeremiah Rusk led to a baseline jumper by Ashland's Jordan Resch that put the Rogues on top 97-95, but Dalton would not be denied on the other end with a strong drive to the basket for a layin with 18 seconds to play.

The Siskiyous then gave their foes a taste of their own medicine, with Brassel knocking the ball away momentarily and then Dalton coming up with a steal after a scramble for the ball. The Crater senior was fouled on the play, putting him on the free-throw line with seven seconds to play and the score tied at 97.

Without a hitch, Dalton calmly knocked down both foul shots — much to the chagrin of a Rogues team that was trying to get under his skin as he stepped to the line.

"All the Rogue guys were telling me, 'Hey, no pressure ... just shoot the shot,'" he said of the tense atmosphere. "But I did it in the season and I had confidence in my shot and just stepped up and hit them."

After a timeout, the Rogues got the ball to Cochran against the Siskiyous' pressing defense, and the Challenger standout dribbled downcourt and put up a well-defended jumper that drew the front iron and then landed in Krauss' arms as the horn sounded.

A few second later, Casillas was surrounded by teammates and fans after being named the player of the game.

"Coming out of a 1A school, Harley can play," said Dalton, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. "He's a player for sure. He might not look like much, but he's a definite ballplayer, that's for sure."

The gym was certainly filled with them, beyond Casillas' exploits.

Ronnie Fields, a senior at Grants Pass, led the Rogues with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Cochran managed 14 points and eight boards.

"It was good to get out here with all the good players in the community and all the good players in each conference," said Fields. "It was a lot of fun. I was glad all these people showed up, it really made it a fun atmosphere."

Rusk (11 points) and North Medford's Michael Levos (10 points) also reached double figures for the Rogues, while Cascade Christian senior Ben Joffer and Hults added nine points apiece.

Phoenix's Skyler Reagan and Alex Young and Winter joined Casillas as returning players in the MT All-Star Classic. Reagan scored eight points, while Young added six points, six rebounds and five assists for the Rogues. Winter had nine points, four rebounds and two blocked shots for the Siskiyous.

South Medford junior Josh Havird poured in 14 points to help lead the Siskiyous, with Taylor Bars and Krauss of Hidden Valley each adding 11 points. Reed added nine points, while Brassel had seven points and three steals and South Medford senior Travis Pratt added six rebounds and two blocked shots to his four points.

Prospect's Shane Kelly, the only other 1A competitor among the bunch, drilled one of the Siskiyous 14 3-pointers to go with three rebounds and two assists.

Every player scored in a game that featured several highlights, including an off-the-backboard alley oop from Dalton to Krauss for a crowd-pleasing dunk.

"It was intense, just going back and forth like that," said Dalton, who had four assists overall. "I thought we were going to go to 150 (points), I swear. We knew we had to get some stops late and we did that and got the 'W.'"

The MT All-Star Classic girls and boys games will be televised April 3, beginning at 6 p.m., by the Southern Oregon ESD-TV on Charter Channel 16 in Jackson and Josephine counties.

ROGUES (97) — Alex Young 6, Skyler Reagan 8, Ben Joffer 9, Michael Levos 10, Roger Hults 9, Ronnie Fields 18, Adam Pavlich 8, Jordan Resch 4, Colton Cochran 14, Jeremiah Rusk 11. Totals: 39-86 9-18 97.

SISKIYOUS (99) — Taylor Bars 11, Cody Krauss 11, Josh Dalton 14, Thomas Reed 9, Harley Casillas 17, Josh Havird 14, Mike Brassel 7, Logan Winter 9, Travis Pratt 4, Shane Kelly 3. Totals: 40-75 5-8 99.

Rogues 51 46 — 97

Siskiyous 45 54 — 99

3-point goals — Rogues 10-30 (Fields 4, Reagan 1, Joffer 1, Hults 1, Pavlich 1, Cochran 1, Rusk 1), Siskiyous 14-38 (Casillas 3, Havird 3, Bars 2, Dalton 2, Krauss 1, Reed 1, Brassel 1, Kelly 1).

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

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