McKelle Meek wins Metro League Player of the Year
In terms of importance to her team, few, if any players in the state of Oregon were as vital as McKelle Meek was to the Southridge girls' basketball squad.
When Cameron Brink transferred to Mountainside over the offseason, everyone looked to Meek as the next player up, so to speak. She would have to score more out of necessity, augment her aggressiveness to a level she was unaccustomed to, get up more field goals than she'd ever attempted all the while ensuring her teammates felt involved in the offense as the point guard. Defensively, Meek couldn't pass off her assignments, either. All of the top floor generals in the Metro League were her responsibilities. No player in the conference shouldered more of an individual load. Meek was commanded to be great. Unique expectations were placed upon her. She was the most experienced player on the floor, the most accomplished, the most acclaimed. And all year long, Meek delivered tenfold.
The two-time state champion, three-time Metro champ and four-time state tourney qualifier won Metro Player of the Year and Oregon's Gatorade Player of the Year awards, finishing off a gratifying final season in a Skyhawk uniform.
Meek was Southridge's breadwinner, one of the top scorers in the state who put up gaudy stat lines against every 6A powerhouse. She gave defending Class 6A champion Benson 30, put 35 on Mountainside in a high intensity, emotionally charged atmosphere on the road and made Beaverton work both during the regular season and in the 6A quarterfinals. A pass-first point guard her entire career, Meek morphed into a scoring assassin. Sometimes Southridge wouldn't even run an offensive set. They would get Meek the ball, clear the side of the floor and let her carve up her defender one-on-one. Meek hunted mismatches and made foes tap out after getting sliced up in isolation situations. Meek was quicker, faster, more remorseless than ever before, like she was out to prove out good she could be on her own. Never one to let her emotions get too high or too low, Meek showed off her inner flame with more regularity. Her will to win, never in question, hit a pinnacle.
Meek closed her illustrious career with 99 total wins, starting every game from the moment she stepped foot on campus, guiding two state title teams and captaining a runner-up. Few players in Southridge history have been such critical parts of program success. Now, Meek will head to the University of Portland, where she'll play for her dad, Michael Meek, who helped the Pilots win the WCC tournament and punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament in his first year on The Bluff.
The rest of the All-Metro first team was made up of a fivesome that helped define this conference over the past four years or so. Beaverton's star-studded senior trio of Laura and Sydney Erikstrup and point guard Mary Kay Naro all earned first-team honors. Head coach Kathy Naro was named Metro League Coach of the Year. By now, you know how the Beavers' season ended, without the chance to fully chase after a 6A state title. The prohibitive favorite to win its first girls' hoops title in state history, Beaverton reached the semis before the OSAA canceled the rest of the 6A state tourney because of COVID-19. As sophomores, the Erikstrups and Naros were ousted by a buzzer-beating layup by Benson in the 6A semis. As juniors in the semis, they ran into a hell-bent Brink in her penultimate game as a Skyhawk. Beaverton's run was both fruitful and unlucky, to say the least. The Beavers won 65 games from the time Kathy Naro took over the program three years ago. This year Beaverton won its first outright Metro title since 2002. They beat Southridge three times, twice handily, and mowed Mountainside with Brink fully healthy in both matchups. The Erikstrups and Mary Kay all claimed personal postseason honors and scholarships to the Division One level. Individually, all three were exceptional, capable of putting Beaverton on its back and carrying the day. Collectively, especially this season, the trio was unerring. Take one away, the other two would seize the moment. Focus on Sydney and Laura would gorge on single coverage. Deny the post and Naro would race to the rim and finish with either hand. Everything that was accomplished was done so as a group, not by one single player.
Brink, a multi-time Metro MVP herself, earned her fourth and final first-team All-Metro selection, this time as a Maverick. The Stanford signee was everything you'd come to expect: dominant down low, finishing everything around the basket, blocking and altering shots better than any player to come through the conference in decades. There was no better interior presence from this state, maybe ever. With her frame, athleticism and killer instinct, Brink could've made a living on rebounds, blocked shots and paint touches alone over her high school career. Yet, the McDonald's All-American refused to settle. She sought out training from some of the best instructors in the nation, expanding her game with diligent hours in the gym and a thirst for knowledge and improvement. Her game was far from rooted in the post. As a senior Brink showed off her ever-evolving handle, taking players off the bounce like a guard, penetrating from the perimeter to the paint with a bag of crossovers, hesitations and step backs. Brink's jump shot, always a promising tool, took off as a senior. With a high release point, a smooth right-handed stroke and effortless form, Brink became a sniper that opponents had to scout out and chase off the three-point line. She was a forward, a guard, a center all rolled into one, a modern era star who fit the mold of the all-purpose, positionless standout that all coaches covet.
Southridge junior Maya Hoff might be the physically toughest player in the conference. Last year Hoff broke her jaw battling for a loose ball in the 6A semifinals against Beaverton. This season she suffered a concussion early in the preseason. But the physical ailments never doused Hoff's competitive flame. Watching Hoff throughout her junior season, there were no tells of past damage. Hoff attacked but in her patented smooth and steady way. The wing could drive right or left with equal aplomb. All of those injuries did little to deter her physical confidence. She was aggressive getting to the rim, drawing fouls, battling for rebounds, sticking her nose into the fray on the defensive end. Hoff's outside shot improved, as did her free throw shooting. Defensively she's always been a cut above, a perimeter shadow who could smother the best scorers in the state.
Brink, Meek, the Erikstrups and Naro are all D1 signees, a rare accomplishment for a league that was unquestionably the best in Oregon this year. Hoff, with a season of high school hoops still to go, figures to be the next in line for the D1 level.
Mountainside sophomores Lindsey Wilson and Halle Hageman, Beaverton senior Jordyn Reverman, Jesuit freshman Emma Sixta, Jesuit junior Molly Block, Southridge senior Kyla Vinson and Westview junior Afton Keeney were all second-team All-Metro honorees. Jesuit senior Taylor Freeman, Southridge junior Kilyn Dawkins and Westview senior Danielle Llamas were each third-team All-Metro.
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