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Metro League looks wide open for boys' hoops

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Beaverton senior guard Ty Peacock and the Beavers want to climb up the Metro League standings this season and contend for a conference crown.

Through a preseason of fluctuations, seesawing win streaks, awing individual scoring displays and gory team defense, one thing is clear about the Metro League when it comes to boys’ basketball.

Parity will rule.

Normally, it’s Jesuit and Westview brawling at the top of the league standings with everybody else fighting for scraps. However, this season each of the six Metro schools have shown signs of big-time potential, and every contender has played well enough for stretches to warrant being considered a threat to the Crusaders’ clench on the conference.

Led by AJ Monterossi — arguably the best playmaking guard in the league, who lit up Central Catholic for 42 points in a thrilling preseason overtime victory— Southridge shocked many observers by beating Jesuit, 43-42, in the opening game of Metro play on Friday. The Skyhawks have a skilled big in Griff Christiansen, who’s reliable in the post and long enough to alter and block shots on defense. Junior wing Isaiah Reel has potent scoring ability and gives Southridge another ballhandler to take the pressure of Monterossi. There’s enough shooting, leadership and defense from the likes of Hudson VanAllen, Alex Beekman, and Brian Pete, amongst others to hide Southridge’s lack of size inside.

In the recent 6A coaches’ poll, Southridge was No. 7, the highest rank of all the Metro contenders.

“I think we all play well together,” said VanAllen. “We play 10 guys, and our depth was a big, big part in us being successful. We know we can contend with elite schools now.”

Sunset’s righted the ship with four straight wins after a somewhat rocky preseason that saw the Apollos lose to Churchill and Sherwood. The Apollos beat Beaverton, 58-50, at the Les Schwab Invitational and took out Aloha, 63-45 in their Metro opener on Friday. Senior-heavy and experienced after a trip to the 6A state tournament last season, the Apollos have stuck to their guns and bold prediction that they’ll be one of the last 6A squads standing in March.

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Sunset senior guard Glenn Tanguy and the Apollos started the Metro League season off strong by beating Aloha, 63-45 on Friday.

And, with stars like 6-foot-8 post Tyler Gutierrez and 6-foot-4 point guard Tyler Harris holding things down on both ends of the hardwood, there’s good reason for Sunset fans to be encouraged by the Apollos’ prospects. Their ability to change up defenses and keep opponents in check with their length make Sunset a dangerous two-way team.

“We have a bunch of athletes on our team, as well as basketball players,” said Gutierrez. “We have a lot of people who know how to make the right decision. So, just moving the ball, hitting the open man, I think that’s where we thrive.”

Few squads play better man-to-man defense, share the basketball or are as well-coached as Jesuit who always seems to play its best ball at the end of the year, when it matters most.

Don’t put much stock in Jesuit’s 7-7 preseason record. The Crusaders front-loaded their preseason with the likes of Jefferson, Grant, Tigard and a number of loaded national teams at the Les Schwab Invite with an eye toward the teeming Metro schedule.

Jesuit is battle-tested as any team, seeing the likes of Bishop Gorman (Nev.) and Timberline (Wash.) and plausibly the best high school team in the state in 5A powerhouse Jefferson. They’re talented too, with Jack Nadelhoffer slashing hard, shooting accurately and providing strong perimeter defense. Junior guard Ryan Bay might not get the headlines Harris and Monterossi receive, but he has just as much talent and can do anything head coach Gene Potter asks. Power forward Henry Mondeaux is one of the league’s best rebounders, and guards Dan Nelson and Reid Bucy have stepped in nicely in the backcourt.

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Westview senior starting point guard David Coffey leads an experienced Wildcat team that beat Beaverton by three in its Metro League opener on Friday.

“I know you have to show up every night ready to play, or you’re going to get beat,” said Potter. “I think that shows up when we get out of league. Traditionally, we’ve been an incredibly strong conference, and I think it’ll continue to be.”

Westview’s won three straight games including a nail-biting 48-45 triumph over Beaverton on Friday. There are many teams that can square up the Wildcat combination of Alex Carrick and Mitch Kekel on the wing. And, Westview seems to have a team of same-sized, 6-foot-2 or so players who can all shoot from the perimeter and play solid defense in halfcourt scenarios. The Wildcats never went away against West Linn during the preseason, and they proved themselves capable of exploding by putting up 29 points in a quarter against the defending state champions.

“A lot of people are underestimating our team,” said senior wing Ben Larsen. “I don’t think they know how good we can play. We’ve been rated fifth or sixth in Metro, but I think we can easily get first. I think we can beat Jesuit, Southridge, and Sunset. Metro’s one of the toughest leagues in the state. If we continue playing as a team, we can knock off some good teams and hopefully get in the top three spots.”

In terms of senior experience and seasoning, Beaverton’s experience level mirrors that of Sunset and Southridge. The Beavers have bushels of talented guards like Nick Alonzo, Ty Peacock and lefty Martin Tannler, who have the handles and craftiness to create all kinds of offense for Beaverton. With so many skilled wingmen and ballhandlers, Beaverton likes to get an extra guard or shooter on the floor to accompany one post like Kiuna Talalemotu or Jared Hilbers.

Sam Noyer and Bryce Barker bring that gridiron toughness to the basketball court while Beaver guards like Connor Brands and Nate Sweet add depth behind Peacock and Tannler.

“We’re definitely going to be a Moda Center team (for the 6A state tournament) this year,” said Alonzo. “We want to be one of the top playoff teams for sure. We just have to play better team ball, not be nervous and hit those shots.”

Aloha had the best preseason record of all the Metro League teams at 10-5. They’ve beaten quality opponents like West Salem, Roosevelt, and Benson though the Warriors struggled with Sunset in the Metro opener. 6-foot-8 post Steven Boswell is a handful in the post and the trio of Nick and Nate Christophersen and Jay Garmondeh can score in bunches. The Warriors take on Jesuit and Southridge at home in the next week, which should give Aloha a clear barometer to where it stands in the Metro.



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