by: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion's Kerry Cook (right) is a great combination of skill and athleticism for the Huskies.We’ve experienced almost two months of high school basketball, enough time to get a rough feel for the talent in the Independent’s coverage area. All-star voting in the NBA also recently concluded, so I feel it would be a fun exercise to choose a 10-person all-star team comprised solely of players from Woodburn, North Marion, Gervais, Kennedy and St. Paul high schools.

A few ground rules:

  • At least one representative from each team.
  • Teams are constructed as close to an actual roster as possible. You can’t start five guards, even if the best players in the area are all ball-dominant players.
  • Remember, I am new to the local sports scene. Chances are, if you are a fan of a particular team, you’ve seen more games than I have. If you feel a player has been snubbed, send us an email and we’ll publish who you think should have made the team.
  • Without further ado, here is your Woodburn Independent 2014 All-Star Team.

    Boys Starters

    G - Rey Ruiz, Jr., Woodburn

    G - Cody Southerland, Sr., St. Paul

    F - Kerry Cook, Jr., North Marion

    F - Jacob Lopez, So., Kennedy

    C - Kylor Kelley, Jr., Gervais

    As it happens, my starting five represent each school in our coverage area.

    Ruiz is not only a lights-out shooter, but he is also the most skilled passer in the area and is an obvious choice to dictate the offense of the team.

    Kelley and Lopez work as a great tandem because their skill sets complement each other so well. Kelley is a lengthy shot-blocker with a smooth stroke from mid-range. He can protect the paint, but he doesn’t always wade into the scrum and fight for loose balls. Fortunately, that’s where Lopez makes his living. The sophomore from Kennedy is averaging a double-double this season largely due to the effort he exudes in chasing down rebounds and scoring on second-chance opportunities. These two players were made to play next to each other.

    Cook is having a fantastic season at North Marion, and is just the type of do-everything wing you want on a team. His athleticism is off the charts, but he can also put the ball on the floor to create plays and he shoots well from distance.

    Southerland was the final choice to start. His senior leadership and ability to affect the game without commanding the ball is vital to constructing the team. He’s probably better suited to play on the wing, but Southerland could easily slide into a shooting guard position.

    Boys Bench

    G - Brett Traeger, Fr., Kennedy

    G - Kyle Williamson, Sr., North Marion

    G - Jose Esquivel, So., Gervais

    F - Leo Garza, Jr., Woodburn

    F - Tyler Smith, So., St. Paul

    It was tough to choose between Traeger and Southerland in the starting lineup, but I ultimately felt the Kennedy freshman would be best suited to lead the bench mob. He’s arguably the best shooter on this team, can score in bunches, and is big enough to slide over to a forward position when Williamson and Esquivel come in off the bench.

    Williamson is another explosive scorer who can just as easily knock down a 3 as he can drive to the bucket. Esquivel is a good up-and-coming guard for the Cougars who takes care of the ball and finds open teammates.

    With his combination of skill and agility, Garza can punish opponents with a variety of pump fakes, hook shots or up-and-unders near the basket. Smith gives the bench another big body to throw at opposing teams. Solid athleticism and great effort near the basket make him a good choice.

    Toughest omissions: Damian Espinoza, Woodburn; Orlando Hernandez, Woodburn; Adam Jaramillo, Gervais; Dalton Susee, Kennedy; Blake Traeger, Kennedy; David Elias, St. Paul; Cuautli Verastegui, North Marion.

    by: PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy's Autumn Barth takes a shot over St. Paul's Carolina Ruvalcaba. Both players made the Woodburn Independent's 2014 All-Star team.

    Girls Starters

    G - Lakin Susee, So., Kennedy

    G - Autumn Barth, Sr., Kennedy

    F - Michaela Meeuwsen, Sr., North Marion

    F - Sara Pierson, Sr., St. Paul

    C - Celine Gregoire, Sr., Woodburn

    The way Kennedy has been playing, you could choose any number of Trojans to make the team, but the obvious decision is Susee. Her defensive effort and nose for the ball are unparalleled in the area, and her ability to shut down opposing players and disrupt offenses sets the tone for this team.

    Her teammate, Barth, provides many of the same skills and intangibles that Susee brings to the table. The chemistry from having two teammates starting in the backcourt would be an added bonus.

    Meeuwsen is kind of a guard in a forward’s body. She can handle the ball and defend opposing ball-handlers, but she’s best on offense when she’s near the basket, pulling down rebounds and fighting for put-backs. Pierson doesn’t have the same defensive abilities as Meeuwsen, but she’s on par offensively and is the leader of a very good St. Paul team.

    Gregoire is the clear choice to work the middle of the paint. Her ability to take over the offense for large stretches, combined with her defensive skills, make her one of the best players whenever she steps on the floor.

    Girls Bench

    F - Jelayna Bastidas, So., Gervais

    G - Kiley Florez, So., North Marion

    G - Taylor Brown, So., Kennedy

    F - Ashley Doman, Jr., Woodburn

    G - Carolina Ruvalcaba, Sr., St. Paul

    Gervais’ lone representative, Bastidas, makes the team due to her tireless work under the basket. Her hustle and energy is exactly what is needed in spurts off the bench.

    Florez and Brown could both easily run the offense, depending on what you want. Florez excels best in half-court situations where she can set up the team from the top of the 3-point line. Brown is wonderful when the game takes on a faster pace and she is able to jump into passing lanes to steal the ball and ignite 2-on-1 opportunities.

    Doman can work inside and out, depending on where she is needed. Her versatility would be prized on any team.

    Ruvalcaba is not the fastest player, nor the tallest, but you can’t find another player who runs harder and defends with more effort. Every team can use an energy player to come off the bench for five or 10 minutes and give 150 percent, and Ruvalcaba fits that mold to a T.

    Toughest omissions: KC Boen, Kennedy; Amelia Grosjacques, Kennedy; Lizzy Ellingson, Woodburn; Kylie Doman, Woodburn; Carlie Donnelly, North Marion; Cassidy Merten, St. Paul; Andrea Villegas, Gervais.

    So there you have it. I’m confident about taking my teams against any other that could be put together from our five schools, but I’d love to hear from the community. Who did I leave off?

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