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Gladstone's Jude Ashpole and North Marion's Sergio Jimenez named league's co-Players of the Year in voting by Tri-Valley coaches

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gladstone junior Jude Ashpole was named the Tri-Valley League's co-Player of the Year after leading the Gladiators to a share of the co-Player of the Year and a OSAA 4A playoff berth.As the high school basketball season unfolded, Gladstone's Jude Ashpole was forced into a position where he had to reinvent parts of his game.

The original plan was for Ashpole to pick up where he left off at the end of a stellar sophomore season, honing his skills as one of the Tri-Valley Conference's most versatile inside-out post players.

But then starting point guard Damian Zaines graduated, and the next line, Tommy Tacha, went down with a broken foot, leaving the Gladiators with a serious hole at one of the most crucial positions in the lineup.

Enter Ashpole, the 6-foot-4 junior with the kind of take-charge, team-first attitude that made him the logical choice to play point guard.

"From day one of practice, we threw Jude out there to be the floor leader," Gladstone coach Cody Aker said. "He sometimes would get frustrated because guys wouldn't always catch the ball when it would hit them in the chest, but we felt comfortable at the time with his big body because people weren't going to take the ball from him and we felt that he would flourish there."

Even after Tacha returned from his foot injury, Ashpole still logged most of his minutes at the point. And why not? The Gladiators had developed a nice rhythm on offense with Ashpole initiating the attack, and his size and strength made him a match-up nightmare for other point guards at both ends of the floor.

Ashpole's efforts proved instrumental in Gladstone's run to a share of the league title, and he was rewarded when the league's coached named him and North Marion senior Sergio Jimenez as the Tri-Valley Conference's co-Players of the Year.

"Last year, Jude was the second-leading vote-getter behind Sergio for Player of the Year," Aker said. "To gain a few more votes this year, I think Jude understands that it's a pretty big honor to be put on that level.

"He did everything for us. His scoring dipped, but that was because a couple of other players started scoring a lot more, But Jude not only was a scorer for us, he also was one of our top rebounders, and he averaged almost six assists and two steals a game. So, he's grown a lot since last year."

Ashpole and Jimenez were joined on the all-league first team by Gladstone junior Jeremy De Voe, Madras senior Dapri Miller, and North Marion senior Johnny Page.

Gladstone's Brandon Wanlass was named to the all-league second team, while Ethan Bulisco and Tacha earned honorable mention, and Aker was recognized as Coach of the Year.

The Gladiators went 20-5 and were preparing to face top-ranked Marist Catholic in the OSAA 4A quarterfinals when the tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus public health threat.

"It was a tremendous season," Aker said. "We started off a little rough, but kids stepped up and we were finally getting to the point of having a really good rotation and playing really well as a team.

"The OSAA's decision is not a popular choice, but it's a prudent choice, and this needed to happen. With the NCAA canceling the winter championships and all of the professional leagues postponing or canceling games ... if they're not willing to put their athletes out there, why would we want to put our kids out there?"


First team

Jeremy De Voe, jr. Gladstone

Jude Ashpole, jr. Gladstone

Dapri Miller, sr. Madras

Johnny Page, sr. North Marion

Sergio Jimenez, sr. North Marion

Second team: Joe Fundak, soph., Corbett; Brandon Wanlass, jr., Gladstone; Donnie Bagley, sr., Madras; Mason Simpson, sr., Molalla; Brady Hansen, sr., North Marion

Honorable mention: Jake Newton, sr., Corbett; Mason Wright, sr., Corbett; Dominic Nacoste, fr., Estacada; Nathan Hagel, sr., Estacada; Nico Snyder, sr., Estacada; Ethan Bulicso, sr., Gladstone; Thomas Tacha, jr., Gladstone; Alex Smith-Morales, sr., Madras; Derek Main, jr., Madras; Derek Pederson, sr., Molalla; Ty Bauge, sr., Molalla; David Page, sr., North Marion

Co-Players of the Year: Jude Ashpole, jr., Gladstone; Sergio Jimenez, sr., North Marion

Coach of the Year: Cody Aker, Gladstone

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