While it obviously doesn’t compare to finishing her South Medford career as the girls basketball program’s all-time leading scorer, Panthers senior Ula Chamberlin will be eager to secure another milestone Friday night.
Chamberlin will go for a rare feat as she vies for her fourth triumph in the 12th annual Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic at Kids Unlimited in Medford, 821 N. Riverside Ave. The games showcase the top high school players in Southern Oregon, from Class 6A to 1A.
The girls game starts at 6 p.m., the boys at 7:30. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and kids 10-and-under get in free. Proceeds go to Kids Unlimited.
More than 21,000 votes had already been cast as of 5 p.m. Wednesday as fans vote for each game’s starters. The ballot can be found at mailtribune.com/sports.
Live video of the games will be streamed at tablerocksports.net.
The staffs at Southern Oregon University and Oregon Institute of Technology will coach the teams.
“I’m really excited to finish my high school career with a fourth straight chance to play in the Mail Tribune All-Star game,” said Chamberlin, who was Most Valuable Player in last year’s girls game with 22 points and five rebounds. “It’s given me a chance to play with a lot of different girls and play with different styles of play and meet so many new faces. I feel super blessed to have had this opportunity.”
Chamberlin capped her career at South Medford with 1,874 points. This past season, she averaged 18.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Her play helped the Siskiyou girls squad snap a two-year losing streak last year, but she will be a key figure on the Rogues this season — a factor that isn’t lost on her teammates for Friday’s game.
St. Mary’s High senior Emma Bennion played in the Mail Tribune’s annual event as a sophomore but missed last season after suffering a stress reaction in her tibia. While track and field workouts have her busy these days following a basketball season that saw her share Far West League player of the year honors, one future teammate caught her eye.
“I only briefly got a look at the list and the name that I remember is Ula Chamberlin,” said Bennion of who she was looking forward to playing with Friday. “I’ve played against her several times before and never had the opportunity to play with her, so that will be exciting.”
Both players, who are also standout soccer players, said they enjoy the dynamic that the Classic provides, with players from all classifications mixed together and teammates often going against one another.
“I’m really excited to have another opportunity to play in the game,” said Bennion. “I get to play with a bunch of people that I only ever get to hear about or read about in the newspaper. Sometimes being in 3A I wonder how I would compete with people that are in a higher classification. A lot of those girls I’ve known since I was pretty young, so it’s really fun to reconnect with them. Also I just love competition, it’s so much fun.”
The speedy 5-foot-6 Bennion is also excited to show her growth as a well-rounded player since that last Classic appearance two years ago. She averaged 16.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 2.8 assists this past season.
“My sophomore year when I played,” said the BYU-bound Bennion, “I mostly was a defensive player and when they asked me to be a part of the All-Star team I was like, ‘OK, I don’t know, the All-Star game is all about the 3-point shot and everyone scores a ton.’ And I’m the type of player that my version of a slam dunk is taking a charge, and I love stealing the ball.”
Bennion said she’s feeling more secure about her role this time around.
“As a sophomore it was my first time going to this thing and I was a little nervous,” she admitted, “and I think as a senior you have more confidence because you’ve played a lot more and you know what’s coming. At least I think I do, we’ll see how it goes.”
Girls players returning along with Chamberlin and Bennion include South Medford’s Bella Pedrojetti, Grants Pass’ Ahdra Klingler, Rogue River’s Jesse Langfield and Rogue Valley Adventist’s Savanah Zamora.
One newcomer jokingly stirring things up, at least for Ula Chamberlin, is her little sister Kaili, who has already thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to the Rogues-Siskiyous battle.
“She’s already been like, ‘I’m not voting for you (for the starting lineup),’ and ‘We’re going to win, our team’s stacked,’” said Ula Chamberlin of the good-natured ribbing. “I’m like, OK, you just wait. I’m trying to come out there and win Friday, especially since my sister has been talking a bunch of trash.”
There are no sibling rivalries for the boys game, rather a unique situation that has come about by pure luck of the draw. Even though the team selection process seeks equity when devising the teams, the Siskiyous are currently on a nine-game winning streak in the 11 games played to date.
Last year, North Medford’s Oscar Banuelos stole the spotlight from his fellow senior teammate Kaison Faust by setting a new Mail Tribune All-Star Basketball Classic scoring record with 29 points to go with four rebounds and five assists in earning MVP honors.
Faust played a key role this week in Oregon Tech reaching the NAIA Championship final.
The previous record of 27 points, set by North Medford’s Brian Schireman in 2016, was also topped last year by Crater’s Kiefer Edwards, who finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and several highlight dunks.
With Banuelos and Edwards leading the way, the Siskiyous scored the most lopsided win in event history with a 25-point edge in an 88-63 victory that saw the Rogues struggle from the field in what typically is a wide-open affair.
Boys returning for this year’s game are South Medford’s Sherman Hunter, Grants Pass’ Taylor Anderson and Ashland’s KJ Pippa.
Hunter and Pippa were on the losing Rogues roster one year ago but will be split up this year, with Pippa joining Anderson on a Siskiyous lineup that is determined to bump its winning streak up to 10 games.
Here are the teams:
ROGUE GIRLS: Ula Chamberlin, South Medford; Toni Coleman, South Medford; Abby Christiansen, North Medford; Grace Gaither, Grants Pass; Sydney Gray, Crater; Andrea Flores, Eagle Point; Jenelle Hurley, Hidden Valley; Mallory Meilicke, Cascade Christian; Emma Bennion, St. Mary’s; and Savanah Zamora, Rogue Valley Adventist.
SISKIYOU GIRLS: Bella Pedrojetti, South Medford; Kaili Chamberlin, South Medford; Talia Baker, North Medford; Ahdra Klingler, Grants Pass; Eliza Idiart, Crater; Jayd Sollinger, Ashland; Hallee Jessee, Hidden Valley; Marissa Welch, North Valley; Maggie Carrillo, Phoenix; and Jesse Langfield, Rogue River.
ROGUE BOYS: Jett Carpenter, North Medford; Sherman Hunter, South Medford; Randy Clark, Grants Pass; Jayden Vranes, Crater; Hayden Neyt, Eagle Point; Joe Blanton, Hidden Valley; Tanner Lauby, North Valley; Donminic Lewis, Cascade Christian; Devon Malcolm, Butte Falls/Crater Lake; and Jordan Royce, Prospect..
SISKIYOU BOYS: Jaray Thomas, North Medford; Keegan Losinski, South Medford; Taylor Anderson, Grants Pass; KJ Pippa, Ashland; Nate Horton, Crater; Ethan Hutsell, Phoenix; Tre Foster, St. Mary’s; Bryce Bruner, Illinois Valley; Aiden Norris, Rogue River; and Isaiah Christensen, Rogue Valley Adventist.