Levis wins Metro League Player of the Year, leads league honors
Regrettably, Jesuit's shot at repeating as Class 6A state champions was put on permanent pause when the OSAA canceled the 6A state tournament due to growing concerns of COVID-19.
The Crusaders, in a similar fashion to last year's title squad, entered the elite eight as underdogs, overlooked once again. Even as the top-ranked team in the quarterfinals, with a favorable path back to the state title game and a robust resume filled with high-quality non-league competition, Jesuit was disregarded. Best believe the Crusaders were fully in-tune with the scorn. After fisticuffs with Summit in the second round of the playoffs, senior star Matt Levis believed Jesuit was where it needed to be right progression-wise, chemistry wise for the postseason.
It's a shame Jesuit won't get the chance to prove itself on the state stage. Had the Crusaders navigated through their top half of the bracket, with a quarterfinal clash against West Linn and a possible semifinal date with either Clackamas or Central Catholic, a rematch with Jefferson loomed in the title bout. Imagine the pressure on the Democrats' shoulders going into that game. Jesuit's overthrow of the North Portland powerhouse last year was considered one of the biggest upsets in state final history. Jefferson had to wear that supposed millstone all spring, summer and fall long. The Democrats were eager to seek revenge and publicly spoke about such requital. They were confident and loaded. But had that rematch transpired, with the highest of stakes hanging in the balance, who knows how Jefferson would have responded? Sadly, this unsatisfactory game of 'What if' is all we can debate and discuss. Hypotheticals are all we have, which reeks for all involved with the high school basketball community.
What can't be debated, taken away or canceled is another Metro League championship, which Jesuit captured by two games or the Crusaders' regular-season individual honors.
Levis won Metro League Player of the Year, leading Jesuit back to another conference title, only this time as the squad's luminary, not a critical role player. The senior wing guarded the other team's toughest player regardless of position. If that meant checking a wing such as Summit's Jacob Tomkins or wrestling with a post on the inside like Mater Dei's Wilhelm Breinbach, that was Levis' assignment. He was tough as nails, playing a football player's physicality and a gung-ho defensive mentality. Levis might have been Jesuit's best defensive rebounder at just over six feet tall. He relished banging with bigger bodies in the post and winning those battles despite being outsized. Offensively, Levis helped shoulder the ballhandling duties along with junior point guard Roy Bunn. His outside shot improved from his junior year. His slashing ability, supported by his athleticism and no-fear attitude, carved up defenses and put pressure on the rim. Westview head coach Mike Wolf might have said it best when he quipped Levis was his favorite player to watch, but least favorite to prepare for.
Jesuit head coach Gene Potter was named Metro Coach of the Year. On the heels of possibly his best coaching job to date, leading last year's Crusader crew to an out of nowhere state, Potter didn't put his feet up and relax. Jesuit won 22 games this year with essentially an entirely new rotation, the third straight year the Crusaders have won at least 20 contests.
The All-Metro first team was flush with new faces and an-all time incumbent in Sunset senior point guard Braeden Sato. Sato earned his third straight first-team all-Metro honors, vaulting himself into rarefied air along with the likes of Jesuit's Kyle Wiltjer and Stephen Holt as three-time first teamers. Sato was pure entertainment on the floor. His Steph Curry-like ability to pull up from anywhere inside the half-court line and drill treys of all distances was mesmerizing. Sato's yo-yo handle made defenders look dumb and clumsy as they tried to slide with the slick-moving Sunset star. The Apollo could make live dribble passes with either hand at full speed, firing bullets to seemingly covered teammates for buckets. Sato played with a joy and a swagger that was contagious to the rest of his teammates.
Beaverton junior Dane Erikstrup might be the most improved player in Metro. The 6-foot-9 center was the epicenter of the Beaver offense. The basketball funneled through him on almost every possession. He was ensured to get a touch and when the rock was in his hands, something positive happened almost every play. Erikstrup's right-handed jump hook was deadly. His footwork in positioning himself to get into his array of post moves was superb. Erikstrup's touch around the rim was soft with either hand. His passing acumen was astute for somebody so large in stature. When Erikstrup was doubled, he could see over the defense and find cutters streaking to the rim for easy twos. Three-point snipers had swaths of space to fire away when Erikstrup found them alone on the perimeter.
Westview senior wing Wayne Jamison was another lockdown defender whose athletic gifts and improving offensive game emerged significantly over his three varsity seasons. Jamison could stop any wing in the league on any given night, but he was far from an offensive liability. Rather, Jamison was one of the best transition game players in the conference, a guard who became more and more comfortable handling the ball in the half-court and getting to the rim.
Mountainside senior post Andrew Ingalls was right in the running with Erikstrup for the best big man in Metro. Ingalls was one of the more reliable offensive weapons in the league. Give him the ball on either block and he could unspool a range of fundamental moves that resulted in easy-looking hoops from eight feet and in. Ingalls was angular but surely not allergic to contact. He relished the yeoman's work on the defensive glass and was unofficially one of the most fouled players in the league with assertiveness on the boards.
Bunn, Beaverton senior John Oleson, Mountainside senior Grayson Rowell, Sunset senior Reece Arenz and Jesuit junior James Lang were each second-team All-Metro selections. Westview senior London Smalley and Wildcat junior Jalen Grable, Mountainside senior Bennett Giebels, Jesuit junior Liam Ruttledge and Sunset junior Kell Estep were honorable mention All-Metro.
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