The top two teams from the past two years will likely be on top again
Jesuit or Westview.
Westview or Jesuit.
If you were laying down a bet on the upcoming Metro League boys basketball race, the smart money would land on one of those two teams, especially knowing that the Crusaders have won the last three state titles while the Wildcats have taken second twice in a row.
But which one to bet on in 2012? There's the question.
'Jesuit and Westivew are the favorites,' said Southridge coach Phil Vesel. 'Westview was already talented, and adding Landon Lucas makes them even better. But Jesuit and coach (Gene) Potter have a résumé of success and can never be counted out. Those two teams have been the class of our league and the state and will be again.'
'I would say it will be Westview and Jesuit, and then Southridge,' said Sunset coach Todd Sherwood. 'But it's a tiered league. After those three, it will be us, Aloha and Beaverton competing for fourth.'
For their part, the two favorites are relatively sure that the other will win, at least at this point in the year.
'I'd have to guess Westview,' Potter said. 'With Landon (Lucas) there and the guys they have back, they have to be the odds-on favorite.'
'My best guess is either Jesuit or Westview will win the league,' agreed Westview's Pat Coons. After that, 'Southridge will battle and Sunset is always competitive.'
Following are previews of the Metro League's varsity boys basketball teams.
ALOHA - Aloha's boys basketball team is ready for a fresh start.
The Warriors were one of the Metro League's top teams a year ago, but saw their season come apart when one of their players was ruled ineligible and cost Aloha 12 wins, not to mention its favorable spot in the OSAA's RPI rankings.
But the Warriors return in 2011-12 with a revamped lineup, a new coach in Antoine Shired, and a desire to compete yet again.
'The key for us is to grow as a team. We need to rely on one another and get after it,' said Shired, who served as head coach at Hillsboro the last two seasons after previously spending a decade on the sidelines as assistant at Westview and another decade before that at Beaverton. 'But we've got a lot of young kids and some older ones too in the mix - we have to grow as a team if we want to be able to play in this league.'
The Warriors bring back just one varsity player from last year's senior-laden team, 6-foot-5 junior post Bryson Sullivan, and will also rely on 6-2 senior wing Lucas Taylor and 6-3 senior wing Cory Sinner.
Taylor 'has played very well and he had good offensive instincts,' Shired said, adding that Sinner is a leader and Sullivan 'will help hold down the middle for us.'
The rest of the varsity lineup this year will include 6-0 senior guard Jeffery Horton, 6-1 sophomore wing Edgar Guerra, 5-8 sophomore wing/point Nick Christophersen, 5-9 senior wing Anthony Walton, 6-2 senior wing Isareal Inge, 5-9 junior point Nate Christophersen, 6-4 senior wing Nic Parker, 5-11 sophomore point Justice Mcentarffer, and 6-0 sophomore point Givon Greene.
BEAVERTON - The 2011 season was, at best, a difficult one for the Beaverton Beavers.
And there are no guarantees that, in the ever-competitive Metro League, 2012 will be any better for Beaverton, but the Beavers believe it can be.
'We feel we are much improved,' said Beaverton coach Erik Lathen. 'I hope we can battle for that third spot, but our league is so tough - if we don't defend and rebound, if we don't do those two things, it will be tough.'
The 2012 Beavers bring back seven varsity players from last year's 0-10 Metro team, that group led by 6-foot-3 junior forward Hakeem Bradley and 6-2 senior forward Tyler Cady.
'Hakeem is really athletic. He's been working hard and he's led us in scoring and rebounding so far,' Lathen said, adding that Cady - the team's MVP last year - is expected to contribute on both ends of the court.'
Also back with experience for the Beavers are 6-1 senior forward Brady Narkiewicz, 5-8 senior guard Ershad Mahmood, 5-8 senior guard Ben Cunha, 6-0 junior guard Joey Losk, and 5-11 senior guard Randy Salsedo.
'That's what we're trying to do, to use our athleticism and play to our strengths,' Lathen said. 'We'll try to use a variety of different things, we'll press and do some other things to take advantage of our strengths.'
Also due for varsity time are 6-2 junior post Savali Talalemotu, 6-0 senior guard Aaron Newton, 6-7 senior post Devin Ferguson, 6-0 sophomore guard Martin Tannler, 6-0 senior forward Preston Khiev, and 6-2 junior forward Davasyia Hagger.
BEAVERTON - Jesuit enters the 2011-12 season riding a three-year winning streak that is unmatched in state history.
While the Crusaders have won the past three Metro League titles, they've taken a few lumps along the way, losing four times in that stretch.
At state, however, Jesuit has had no such missteps, going 9-0 in that same stretch and becoming the first team in Oregon history to win three straight big-school championships.
That said, if the Crusaders hope to continue either of those streaks, they'll have their work cut out for them.
The team brings back just two varsity players - junior guards Khyan Rayner (5-foot-10 and a third-team all-league pick in 2011) and Xavier Coleman (5-10) - and must replace two-time Oregon Player of the Year Kyle Wiltjer.
'We're starting a little bit at ground zero,' said Jesuit coach Gene Potter. 'We've got those two guys back, but they were mostly role players a year ago. It's exciting - there's a lot of unknowns.'
Still, building around Rayner and Coleman isn't a bad place to start.
'I expect them to be leaders and get us going in the right direction every night,' Potter said.
The rest of the varsity lineup - all of whom are expected to play - includes 6-0 senior guard Werner Nistler, 6-2 junior wing Sean Milligan, 6-1 senior wing Rick Maddock, 6-4 senior wing Jack Hackman, 6-4 freshman wing Ryan Bay, 6-2 sophomore wing Franklin Porter, 6-8 senior post Collin Spickerman, 6-4 sophomore post Henry Mondeaux, 6-5 junior post Mike Ralston and 6-7 junior post Max Rich.
BEAVERTON - The Southridge boys basketball team has had, at best, a checkered history since the school first launched back in 1999.
Indeed, the Skyhawks have reached the state tournament just once - in 2003 - and also posted their best-ever Metro League finish by placing second that season.
Bettering either of those marks in 2011 will be a challenge, but the Skyhawks think they have a shot.
'It always takes some time to transition your players who come in late from football, (so) we are playing catch-up right now, but the potential is there,' said Southridge coach Phil Vesel.
Though the team is operating without the services of senior starter Bonhan Stafford - he transferred to Westview - the Skyhawks believe they can compete with anyone.
See RACE, A16Continued from A15
'The goal for our group is to compete at the top of the league,' Vesel said. 'We have some good pieces. The key will be putting it together.'
This year's group is led by 6-foot-8 senior post Sean McGill, the Metro's top returning player after earning second-team all-Metro honors a year ago, and by 6-4 junior point/wing Caleb Dozier, 5-10 junior wing Caleb Herzberg, 6-4 junior wing/post Reza Aleaziz, 6-0 senior post Jordan Merrill, 6-4 junior wing Kevin McClean, and 6-0 senior wing Jeff Schmitt.
McGill 'can change games with his rebounding and defense,' Vesel said, adding that Merrill adds leadership, Dozier versatility and scoring, Herzberg long-range shooting, and Aleaziz an inside/outside threat.
'When we figure out how to maximize our strengths, we can play with anyone in the league,' Vesel said.
The rest of the team includes 6-1 junior wing Justin Calo, 5-10 sophomore point Grant Giraldi, 6-2 senior post Ben Antunes, and 6-1 junior wing Garett Poe.
CEDAR MILL - Sunset has some nice pieces in place for the upcoming Metro League race.
Some scoring, some ball handling, some experience and some size.
But whether the Apollos can maneuver those pieces in such a way as to checkmate the rest of the league remains to be seen.
'We're real young, and that can be a trying experience in the Metro League,' said Sunset coach Todd Sherwood. 'But you never know. We're going to play hard every day and compete, and we'll see a ton of improvement.'
This year's Apollo crew will be led by 5-foot-8 junior guard Joe McFerrin III - a third-year varsity player - and 5-11 senior guard Matt MacMillan
'We're going to build around those two guys,' Sherwood said. 'We'll build around them and their attitude, their ability to finish off the dribble and score in transition.'
Also due for regular varsity minutes are 6-1 senior guard/forward Evan Altorfer, 6-5 senior guard/forward Ryan Carter, 6-6 senior forward/guard Drew Martin, 6-2 sophomore guard Taylor Harris, 6-8 sophomore forward/post Tyler Gutierrez, 5-8 senior guard Cam Russ and 6-0 senior guard Ian Tagapan.
Martin 'is a real long defender and smart offensive player,' Sherwood said, adding that Harris is a good shooter and offensive player, and Gutierrez a strong post presence.
Also due for time are 6-0 junior guard/forward Ryan Hendry, 6-0 senior guard/forward James Blount, and 6-7 junior center Adam Mead.
'The big key for us is we have to do a diligent job defensively and we have to rebound the ball,' Sherwood said. 'It sounds simple, but it's not easy to do in this league.'
ROCK CREEK - Westview has been knocking on the door of a state championship for a couple years now.
Pounding on it would be more accurate, after finishing second in each of the past two seasons.
But to get over the top, to win the first state championship in school history, the Wildcats know they must get past Jesuit, the three-time defending state champion.
'We should be a very good team in league, and in the
state race,' said Westview coach Pat Coons, the only head coach in Westview history. 'But staying healthy and bonding as a team will be very important. We have talent at each position, but we're still learning to play hard and focus on every possession. If we do that, we should be tough.'
The Wildcats bring back four players from last year's state runner-up in 6-foot-1 junior point/wing Dyrall Goods - a third-team all-league pick last year - 6-4 senior post Keon Burns, 6-3 senior wing Cole Gatewood and 6-4 senior post Montie Leunen.
Further, this year's team is bolstered by the addition of two notable transfers, 6-10 senior post Landon Lucas (the leading rebounder at the 2010 state tournament for Sunset who played last year at Las Vegas' Findlay Prep) and 6-1 senior wing Bonhan Stafford (Southridge's leading scorer from a year ago), though he's still clearing up eligibility issues.
'Dyrall is just a good athlete that is moving to point guard,' Coons said. But 'our most talented kid is Landon Lucas. (He's a) shot blocker, big rebounder and very strong around the basket. He is what we call our 'game changer.''
Also due for time this year are 5-10 junior point Isiah Denson, 5-9 senior wing Blake Frimoth, 5-9 senior point Aaron Huss, 5-10 senior wing Jerry Lan, 6-0 senior wing Justin Leatherman, 6-3 senior post Joey Peterson, and 6-1 senior wing Taylor Spooner.