Estep wins Metro POY, Skyhawks earn all-league accolades
In terms of overall meaning to his team, nobody on an individual basis was more valuable than Beaverton senior Jake Estep.
The 6-foot-5 swingman was essential to the Beavers' success this season. The lone holdover from last year's Class 6A semifinalist squad that won back-to-back Metro League championships, Estep never strayed from Beaverton or looked for greener pastures as so many high profile high school players tend to do nowadays. Estep embraced the challenge of being the marked man, the top name on every opponent's scouting report. He learned how to be a leader, steering a young Beaver squad back to the postseason. Despite losing in the first round to Grants Pass, Estep couldn't be stopped, pouring in 41 points in defeat.
The Western Oregon signee was pegged as the unofficial preseason player of the year in the conference. And even with all of the attention placed on his shoulders, Estep flourished, taking home Metro League Player of the Year honors as voted on by the conference coaches.
The first team all-Metro squad was a well-balanced mix with five different schools represented. Jesuit senior sharpshooter Matt Lang evolved into an all-around offensive player with a tight off-the-dribble game that kept teams off balance and made his lethal outside shot even more deadly. Lang also grew into one of the Crusaders' top defenders on the perimeter.
Westview senior Jack Poling, like Estep, experienced great team success as an underclassman going to the state tournament as a sophomore and a junior. With all of his older teammates graduated, Poling was the Wildcats' offensive focal point down low, a left-handed, jump-hooking, floor-running big man who used his 6-foot-11 size to his advantage.
Southridge senior Filip Fullerton built on a breakout summer on the AAU circuit with the best year of his Skyhawk campaign, helping Southridge win its first Metro title in school history while placing fourth at the 6A state tournament. Bigger, stronger and more confident in his burgeoning skill set, Fullerton was a force on both ends of the court. He could play the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop game with Southridge's bandwidth of high-quality guards. Put a slower post in front of and Fullerton could by fly to the rim. Back off and he'd unleash his well-crafted outside jumper. Single cover Fullerton on the block and the Portland State signee deployed his collection of old-school post moves.
Southridge head coach Phil Vesel was named Metro League Coach of the Year after helping the Hawks capture their first league title and win 25 games, the most in school history.
Joining the four seniors on the all-Metro first team is Sunset sophomore Braeden Sato, a quick, cagey point guard who went from unknown freshman to future star in the span of one season. Sato was one of the leading scorers in Metro, but he also set the table for the Apollo offense as a floor general in terms of his passing and getting teammates involved. Similar to some of the great Apollo guards before him, Sato earned the keys to the Sunset offense with his playmaking ability and gained the trust of head coach Todd Sherwood. Sato should be at the center of Sunset's program moving forward.
Jesuit senior forwards Sam Handley and Joe Wall as well as Southridge junior guard Brock Henry and Southridge senior guard Bo Quinlan earned second-team all-Metro honors. Handley did the dirty work for Gene Potter and the Crusaders. He was their best post defender, a rugged rebounder and an underrated passer, somebody who didn't need the ball in his hands on offense every play to be effective. Wall and Lang led Jesuit in scoring, providing a potent outside shooting duo that stretched the floor far beyond the three-point line and lent spacing to the Crusader motion offense. Wall's best attributes were his quick-trigger three-point release and deep range, but his off-the-bounce game helped make defenders pay for closing out too hard on him outside the three-point line.
Henry enjoyed a breakthrough junior campaign thanks to his picturesque perimeter jumper, tricky handle and unappreciated athleticism. Quinlan came over from Life Christian last summer and quickly earned a starting role in Vesel's three-guard offense. His smooth skill set, defensive length and shooting ability fit seamlessly into Southridge's schemes.
Beaverton sophomore John Oleson surfaced as a multipurpose big man who could stuff the stat sheet with points, boards, assists and blocks, whatever was needed on the floor at the time for the Beavers. Jesuit junior Aiden Williams rivaled Lang, Wall and Henry as one of the best shooters in the league, a right-handed sniper who put nine three pointers on South Eugene not once but twice during the year. Southridge junior Zach Galvin teamed up with Henry and Quinlan in the Hawk backcourt. Galvin was the best defender of the trio with super long arms, fast hands and excellent defensive instincts. Sunset senior Coleman Newsom gave the Apollos a bit of everything on the hardwood and was one of Sherwood's most indispensable players. Westview senior Shasank Bonthala waited years for his turn in the Wildcat spotlight and didn't shy away from the moment when his number was called this season. Bonthala and Poling started and starred for the Cats. Oleson, Williams, Galvin, Newsome and Bonthala were all third-team all-Metro.