Former AHS stars Blanche, McKinnis shine at next level

Oregon State pitcher Sam Gaviglio isn't the only Ashland High alum who's making a name for himself at the next level.

At least two former Grizzlies were recently honored for coming up big on the basketball court, and a few more are already helping their college teams on the baseball diamond.

Following is a list of some former Ashland greats, where they're at and what they're up to.

Rory Blanche: The 6-foot-6 junior was named a Great Northwest Athletic Conference honorable mention after leading the Western Washington men's basketball team in rebounds (6.8 per game), minutes (32 mpg), field goal percentage (.628) and tying for second in points (14.3).

Blanche, who was a second-team Class 5A all-state selection for Ashland as a senior in 2007, recorded season highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds and hit 10 of 10 shots in a 115-84 win over Willamette on Nov. 16. The manufacturing engineering technology major had 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds in Western Washington's season-ending loss to Northwest Nazarene on Monday in the first round of the GNAC tournament.

Blanche was voted the team's most improved player two years in a row heading into this season, when he started all 26 games he played in. Western Washington is an NCAA Division II institution.

Kelsey McKinnis: The 5-foot-8 sophomore guard was named a Northwest Conference second-team all-star after leading the Puget Sound women's basketball team in 3-pointers made (53), steals (40), assists (63) and minutes played (33.7 per game) and finishing second in points (15.3 ppg).

The 2009 AHS grad hit 37 percent of her 3-point attempts — the best percentage on the team — and scored a season-high 26 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including 6-for-8 from long range, in a loss to Northwest on Nov. 15.

The NCAA Division III Loggers (18-8) were eliminated from the NWC tournament by George Fox on Feb. 24. McKinnis led Puget Sound with 19 points, seven assists and two steals in 40 minutes.

Nick Hall: Less than a year after helping the Grizzly baseball team advance to the Class 5A championship game for the second time in three years Hall is already a mainstay in Pacific Lutheran's starting lineup. The 5-10 freshman has started at shortstop in eight of the NCAA Division III team's nine games, and has proven his worth on defense with a .974 fielding percentage.

Hall is batting .240 (6-for-25) with a double and three RBIs. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in a 5-2 win over Cal Lutheran on Feb. 11, and 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI in a loss to Texas-Dallas on Feb. 12.

  • Lucas Stone: The freshman pitcher has seen only limited action for Puget Sound. The lefty, who also played a major role for the 2010 Grizzlies, has allowed five hits and five earned runs in four innings of work. In his first-ever college start Feb. 19, Stone surrendered four runs on five hits in an 11-10 loss to Whitworth. Stone struck out one and walked one in the nonconference game.
  • Max Gordon: The Oregon State sophomore is still looking for his first hit as a Beaver after transferring from Sierra College. He's 0-for-10 with two walks, five strikeouts and a stolen base. Gordon was part of the great AHS class of 2008 that won Ashland's first and only state championship with Gaviglio on the mound.

Other notables: Garrett Tygerson, a 2009 AHS grad, will again pitch for Lower Columbia College (Wash.). The 6-5 sophomore right-hander was projected as the team's No. 2 starter in a preview released by the team. Last season, Tygerson pitched 14 1/3 innings, going 1-0 with two saves and a 5.65 ERA. "… April Thorson, formerly April Jorgensen, has made the roster for the BYU softball team but the backup catcher has yet to see action. "… Allison Gida, who graduated from Ashland in 2010, saw limited action as a 5-11 freshman guard. In nine games, Gida was 1-for-8 from the floor with three assists.

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