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Sports editor Phil Hawkins recognizes the top high school players from northern Marion County this past winter season

The winter athletic season may have ended nearly three months ago, but I still have basketball on the mind.

At this time last year, the NBA was putting the finishing touches on the Eastern Conference Finals. The Portland Trail Blazers' first trip to the Western Finals in nearly 20 years ended May 20 in an unceremonious 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Add in the fact that the excellent Michael Jordan docuseries, "The Last Dance" aired its concluding ninth and 10th episodes last week, not to mention the unceremonious way in which the high school winter season ended, and you can forgive me for lingering on my favorite sport for just a bit too long.

As such, I wanted to revisit my annual boys All-Independent column after publishing my picks for the top girls basketball players in the Woodburn Independent coverage area last month. For those unfamiliar with the column, it's my opportunity to select a Dream Team of sorts from the student-athletes in the Woodburn, North Marion, Gervais, Kennedy, and St. Paul high schools. It's fun, casual, and an opportunity for a mid-30s sports fan to play a kind of fantasy basketball with the varsity student-athletes I had the pleasure of watching this past season.

But first, a quick refresher on the All-Independent parameters.

Positions matter

My goal is to create the best team possible to play an actual game of basketball. A starting five consisting of nothing but post players and forwards is going to have a hard time generating offense and defending the perimeter. An all-guard team may have dynamic ballhandling but would get eaten up inside.

School representation

All five schools get at least one player on the team. I don't care if their team is 0-22 for the season (and they have been on a few occasions), everyone gets at least some recognition. But from there on, it's a meritocracy.

Why only basketball?

We cover more than a dozen sports across three different athletic seasons. So why only feature one sport in an all-star column? Because I (kind of) know basketball. If I were to write an all-star column of wrestlers or volleyball players, I'd just make a fool of myself. I don't know the sports well enough to feel comfortable making talent evaluations. Some sports, like football or golf, I don't get the opportunity to watch very much during the season.

Remember, this is all just for fun

If you're a regular fan, parent or family member of a specific team, you've seen much more of your team than I have and are more knowledgeable of their skills and limitations. I'm making a judgment call from watching maybe five to eight games of each team during the season — a relatively small sample size. If you think my selections are wrong, chances are you're probably right! This whole column is sparking debate. Let me hear your ideal 12-person team from our coverage area. OK? OK. Let's begin.

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Brady Hansen

STARTERS

Guard

Brady Hansen, Sr. — North Marion

This team is packed with a lot of talented playmakers on the wings, so I'm looking for a steady floor general who can handle the ball, shoot, making entry passes, drive to the hoop, find open teammates and play mistake-free basketball. In my mind, there's no better point guard for that role in our coverage area than Hansen, a steady two-way player who makes the right decisions, doesn't try to play above his game, but knows when to make opponents pay for slacking off on defense. For steady, consistent reliability, he's my guy.

COURTESY PHOTO: ANDRE PANSE - Kennedy senior Luke Hall

Guard

Luke Hall, Sr. — Kennedy

As Gervais boys basketball head coach Ben Schultz wrote last week, ?One of the best shooters I've ever seen in high school.?And he knows a lot more about basketball than I do. Hall is a smart, determined, gritty shooting guard with range and a beautiful jump shot. He shot 41 percent from 3-point range as a senior and a whopping 49% from deep as a sophomore. He's single-handedly trying to revive the mid-range jumper as a lost art form and has the size and strength to scrum for rebounds and make contact around the hoop when opposing teams attempt to take his jumper away.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn junior Jeovanny Marroquin

Wing

Jeovanny Marroquin, Jr. — Woodburn

Just a great all-around playmaker in every way. Marroquin is an athletic wing who is at home around the basket, but can step back and hit the 3-pointer when left open. He's a rock solid defender who has the size and speed to guard multiple positions. He can take over games offensively or defer to the hot hand on an off night. And he has the silkiest Euro-step I've seen in years that almost never fails to fool reeling defenders trying to stop a drive to the paint.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Sergio Jimenez

Forward

Sergio Jimenez, Sr. — North Marion

The crown jewel of the All-Independent team, Jimenez has built an untouchable resume over the past four years that includes two Conference Player of the Year awards and two appearances on the 4A All-State team. He's rarely the biggest player on the court, but he plays like it, using crafty footwork and superior athleticism to outplay opposing big men in the paint for buckets and boards. He added a great passing game to his repertoire this year, becoming a legit threat for a 20-10-5 game on any given night.

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - Woodburn senior Reese Miller

Post

Reese Miller, Sr. — Woodburn

With so many ball-dominant players in the starting lineup, the All-Independent team needs a player who can excel off the ball. Miller is great at doing the dirty work inside, with enough size to guard even the biggest posts and slug it out for rebounds in the paint. He's a great pick-and-pop player with a good mid-range jumper and range to stretch it out to the 3-point line if left open.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn junior Jonathan Marroquin.
RESERVES

Guard

Jonathan Marroquin, Jr. — Woodburn

Tough to leave out of the starting lineup, Marroquin has all the tools to be an ideal sixth man in this imaginary exercise. A better defender than Hansen, Marroquin is such a pest for opposing ball-handlers who can't rest on their laurels 60 feet away from the basket. Marroquin brings that energy to the game at all times and packs a well-rounded offensive toolset to the table.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul senior T.J. Crawford.

Guard

T.J. Crawford, Sr. — St. Paul

One of the best two-way football players at the 1A level, Crawford, is a guard who is never afraid to charge into the paint and take an elbow to the chest to challenge a shot or rebound. His athleticism makes him a nightmare in the open floor, where he is eager to make opposing teams pay for being foolish enough to make cross-court passes.

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais senior Daniel Hernandez.

Guard

Daniel Hernandez, Sr. — Gervais

Kind of a Brady Hansen-light, Hernandez is another guard who is a rock-solid player when you need someone to run an offense responsibly. The Gervais senior can knock down 3s when left open, plays reliable defense and does a great job getting his teammates involved without making too many careless mistakes. I don't have to worry about what's going to happen with Hernandez running the offense off the bench.

Wing

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy sophomore Riley Cantu.Riley Cantu, So. — Kennedy

An up-and-coming player who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, Cantu has all the tools to become a two-way star player at the 2A level for the next two years. His size and athleticism make him a staunch defender able to guard multiple positions. His 3-point stroke is great to watch when he gets hot, but he's fine with diving inside to generate contact and put the opposing team in foul trouble.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul junior Broden Lear.

Wing

Broden Lear, Jr. — St. Paul

I didn't get to see as much St. Paul boys basketball as I would have liked this season, but when I did, Lear jumped off the page every time. A tireless athlete, thanks to his background as a distance runner, Lear brings a great work ethic to the court, has good size and is a dangerous 3-point shooter when left open.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior David Page.

Post

David Page, Sr. — North Marion

Page has developed into an absolute bruiser in the paint this year, an immovable rock who will out muscle opposing teams for rebounds and putback layups. But he's no plodding big man — Page can run the court with the best of them and can play from the perimeter, handling the ball to drive to the paint or kick it to an open teammate.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Auggie Guido.

Post

Auggie Guido, Jr. — Gervais

There are arguably better players left off this list, but I always want a player like Guido on my team. You won't find a more passionate player who is willing to do whatever is asked of him on the floor. Guido is your quintessential garbage man who is an absolute pest to play against, grabbing offensive rebounds, tipping in put backs, taking charges and doing all the dirty work that coaches love to see.


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