Sunsets one-man show steps up — all 12 of them
OK. Let's get this out of the way right now.
Sunset senior guard Garrett Sim is the best player in the state and he proved it in spades against the best competition in the state during last week's Class 6A state tournament.
Sim, who will play his college basketball at the University of California-Berkeley beginning next year, led his team to third place at the state tournament - its best finish since 1987 - nearly lifted his team into the state championship game and did so in amazing fashion.
Sim topped the tournament in scoring at 25.7 points per game for the Apollos' three games, shot .563 from the field and also led the tournament in shots (48), shots made (27), free throws made (19) and minutes played (95).
There was more too. He was also third in three-pointers attempted, fourth in free throws attempted (21), fifth in 'threes' made, and fifth in free throw percentage (.917), assists (eight) and offensive rebounds (nine).
More to the point, however, anyone who saw Sim just flat-out flow through Oregon City and North Medford's defenses in the second half of Sunset's semifinal and third-place games saw something special.
Sim's ability to dribble past defenders, to hit pull-up jumpshots from the free throw line in, to set up his teammates for easy baskets and to soar to the hoop against any defender in the tournament regardless of size were nothing short of stupendous.
That said, however, there was a whole lot more to this Sunset team than just Garrett Sim.
Senior forward Greg Shepard, who transferred to Sunset this year after making two state trips with Westview, provided rebounding, interior defense, offense from the three-point line in, and heady play as exemplified by his second-half defense against Oregon City and the two free throws with 17 seconds to play that sealed Sunset's quarterfinal win over Central Catholic.
There was floppy-haired senior forward Phil Campbell, the fifth-leading rebounder in the tournament (seven per game) and third-best shooter (.643), who sacrificed his body every game for the good of the team.
Then there were senior starting guards Tyler Parker and Ryan Bennett. Parker and Bennett provided timely scoring, big-time defense and ball movement that often created scoring opportunities that defenses just could not stop.
And there was more too, in the form of junior guard Michael Holton and his acrobatic scoring forays into the lane, sophomore guard Tony Holton who added rebounding and defensive toughness, hard-nosed junior guard Wes Wenzel, junior shooting guard Sean Bernards, not to mention junior guards Tad Herzog, Ryan Kroon, Graham Harker.
Look. Sim stole the show at state, even outplaying Oregon City senior guard Brad Tinsley in their semifinal match-up. Everyone who was there saw it.
But to assume that that's all this year's Sunset team was about is to miss the point big-time. It was about chemistry. It was about role-playing. It was about duty and it was about team.