by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Sunset senior post Tyler Gutierrez was picked as the Metro League Player of the Year following a standout season on both ends of the hardwood.

There’s a certain distinction, a particular acclaim that comes with being named first-team Metro League in boys’ basketball.

When future collegians and even NBA players such as Mike Dunleavy Jr., Landen Lucas, Kyle Wiltjer, Stephen Holt, and Garrett Sim each carry the “all-Metro” tag on their athletic resumes, you know you’re in elite company.

First-team, all-Metro players are considered some of the best in the state, and this year is no different.

Sunset senior post Tyler Gutierrez was named Metro’s Player of the Year. His head coach Todd Sherwood was picked as Coach of the Year for helping the Apollos win the Metro League, and reach the 6A state tournament for the second straight season.

Gutierrez was a motivated beast on both ends of the floor in his final season as an Apollo, playing with a sort of controlled edge and fury that only grew as the year went along. A 6-foot-8 post with dexterity in the post, but also a silky touch from three-point land and solid ballhandling skills on the perimeter, the Concordia University commit emerged as a mismatch nightmare for many a Metro foe. A fiery competitor who often fed off the boisterous Sunset student section, Gutierrez’s game seemed to skyrocket during Metro play, when every game was a de facto street fight filled with physicality, aggression and emotion.

“Metro is what we lived for,” said Gutierrez. “It’s competing against a good team and whoever wins, wins. But, the competition of it and the high level of athletes that are out there, it’s just fun.”

Joining Gutierrez on the first-team was fellow teammate Taylor Harris along with Jesuit’s Dan Nelson, Southridge’s A.J. Monterossi and Aloha’s Steven Boswell.

Harris saved some of his best basketball for the end of the season, coming up with momentum-swinging plays down the stretch. Against Jesuit in the Apollos’ season finale, Harris scored 10 second half points that helped Sunset clinch the Metro title. In the second round of the 6A playoffs versus McMinnville, Harris scored 12 straight points in the first quarter that gave Sunset a big early lead, and sent the Apollos back to the Moda Center for the second straight year.

At 6-foot-4, Harris was too tall for most Metro point guards, yet his handle and craftiness with the basketball off the dribble were likewise tough for most wings to contain. And, with a reliable outside shot to work with, the senior captain was the perfect complement to Gutierrez’s dominance down low.

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Sunset senior first-team all-league point guard Tyler Harris was a steady hand and solid scoring threat for the Apollos this season.

“We finally started playing well again,” said Harris. “Ever since the Sherwood game (a 59-49 loss) when we kind of blew it, our practices were better. Our games were better. We had so much more energy. We’re not necessarily playing smarter, but we just play hard which is just as important. That really helped us.”

Aloha centered most of its offense around Boswell’s soft touch and nimble feet in the pivot, feeding the rock to the big guy down low in hopes of getting paint scores or drawing double teams. Respected by each Metro opponent, and the focus of every opponent’s gameplan, the junior post was a patient offensive attacker, taking what the defense gave him, but also going to work with energy and quick moves to the hole. A willing passer who was fully aware of where the constant double teams came from, Boswell often found open teammates cutting backdoor for hoops or for unobstructed threes on the perimeter. Boswell was the only non-senior on the team.

Monterossi was both Southridge’s turboprop driving the Skyhawks to the second round of the 6A playoffs, and the rudder guiding a young team that encouraged its senior captain to take over when necessary. The 5-foot-10 senior point guard was arguably the toughest player to cover one-on-one in the conference because of his feline quickness and ability to go from a standstill position to the threshold of rim in one or two dribbles.

Also a first-team Metro pick as a junior, Monterossi found that blissful balance of getting his own offense, but also keeping his teammates satisfied with good looks inside and outside. Few players were better at reading the pick-and-roll than Monterossi when it came to attacking, pulling up for jumpers or finding one of his posts for jumpers or dives to the cup. As a result, an overlooked Southridge squad took flight to the second round of the playoffs, where they were knocked out by South Medford on the road.

“I was a leader on this team this year, so I did what I had to do to make us successful,” said Monterossi. “I picked my spots and found the open guys when they were there. If we played together, we won together.”

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jesuit senior guard Dan Nelson was picked first-team all Metro after taking the Crusaders to the 6A state semifinals against eventual champion West Linn.

A senior director for Jesuit, Nelson was a cold-blooded, clutch player who took his game up a notch during crunch time. Against South Medford in the 6A state quarterfinals, Nelson hit two clutch free throws that helped calm the Crusaders’ butterflies and eventually landed Jesuit in the semifinals against West Linn. Versus Westview early in Metro play, Nelson exploded for 30 points and five assists that helped eek out a 60-57 win over the Wildcats. During a four-game stretch in which the Crusaders beat Beaverton, Aloha, Southridge, and Sunset by a combined eight points, it was Nelson who coolly and fearlessly took the ball in his hands and put Jesuit in the winner’s circle.

Westview’s Alex Carrick and Ben Larsen made the Metro’s all-second team as did Jesuit’s Henry Mondeaux, Sunset’s Jeff Bieber and Beaverton’s Martin Tannler. Southridge’s Griff Christensen, Aloha’s Edger Guerra, Sunset’s Mikey Fey, Jesuit’s Reid Bucy and Beaverton’s Ty Peacock were selected to the all-Metro third team.

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