With the high school basketball season done and the champions crowned, putting together this years All-Herald boys hoops team was a little tougher than I had envisioned.
What I am going to do with this years team, rather than just name a bunch of guards or forwards that score a lot to my first team, is to pick players by position to set up that fantasy-camp, hypothetical pick-up game that would definitely be a hot ticket for local hoop fans.
I am going to go through position-by-position and construct a team that could be functional during a game. Too many times these types of all-star teams are just about offense and scoring Im out to change that.
Along with a first, second and third team by position, mind you I think its about time the defenders in the area get recognized. So either skip to the first-ever All-Herald Defensive Team, or check out who I think are the top all-around players in the area right now.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Deon Davis, Sr., PG, Pendleton
Hands down, Davis was the best player in the area this season. There isnt even a question. After Pendleton coach David Norton moved Davis to run the point this year, his game exploded and really blossomed. He showed everybody what he was capable of: breaking down defenses, shooting from the perimeter, getting to the basket and playing smothering on-the-ball defense.
He averaged 15.2 points, six assists and five steals per game and shot nearly 47 percent from the field. For a high school guard, thats a pretty high shooting percentage. Hes matured and calmed down his temper and intensity that sometimes got his team in trouble last season and sometimes this season, too.
Theres more to the numbers in Davis game, though. His court vision is crazy-good and made better decisions with the ball as the season went on.
Overall, he was the best hoops player in the Heralds area as far as Im concerned.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Dan Sharp, Stanfield
What Sharp was able to do with this years Stanfield Tigers was outstanding.
A team that was gutted, literally, by graduation and returned a couple players with relevant varsity minutes isnt supposed to go to the state tournament.
Well, the Tigers did, and Sharp was a big part of that.
Stanfields run through the Class 2A tournament ended up empty, again, but this was truly a time where just getting there was an accomplishment in itself.
PG - Jake Flyg, soph., Hermiston
A lot of eyebrows are raised with this pick, Im sure. Let me explain.
Flyg was given the nearly-impossible task to be a 5A point guard in his first varsity experience. Most kids would run away screaming in fear, but Flyg took the challenge head-on and did rather well.
He had his growing pains, sure, but anytime Hermiston needed a big shot and Alex Ortiz wasnt available, Flyg was the guy. He can knock down perimeter shots with ease, although it is done with a slightly odd-looking stroke, but who really cares when the end result is a nice nylon song and three points on the board?
A true pass-first point guard, Flyg was able to get Alex Ortiz and the rest of the crew the ball in the best possible position for him to do something with the ball. Thats what a point guard is supposed to do.
Flyg is a rising star and people need to keep their eyes on him. Hes good.
SG - Devin Bailey, sr., Stanfield
When Stanfield needed points, Bailey was the guy who had the ball.
He averaged 18.8 points per game this season and gave defenders in the Blue Mountain Conference nightmares on a regular basis.
While hes quite capable of hitting the 3-point shot he drained 65 trifectas this year Baileys game is to slash to the bucket and get fouled, and he did that just as good as anyone.
And a guard that averaged 6.5 rebounds per game is just flat-out fun to watch. Thats raw hustle and determination being able to bang around with the big dudes underneath.
Combined that with 106 steals and 78 assists and you have the year Bailey needed to have for the Tigers to get to state a big one.
SF - Alex Ortiz, jr., Hermiston
There were few times this year where Alex Ortiz wasnt the most talented player on the floor.
While sometimes he didnt quite produce like perhaps he should have, he was still the guy that coaches had to gameplan against.
Ortiz was so good in isolation situations with the ball in the triple-threat position (yeah, Im dating myself a bit with that term, I know) that on nights when his pull-up jumper was working he was impossible to stop.
He put up 17.6 points per game in a season where he was asked to do a ton of different things for his team. Being the only player with meaningful varsity minutes from last years Hermiston team, Ortiz had a lot of weight on his shoulders coming into the season. Sometimes, especially early on, you could tell. But more times than not, he was able to put the brown thing in the round thing and fill the role as Hermistons star.
PF - Marco Carranza, sr., Riverside
A key cog in Riversides playoff run and one of the best regular seasons in school history, Carranza roamed the paint like a man possessed. He led the team with 169 rebounds and scored 15 points per game for the 22-3 Pirates.
With his long and lanky frame and deceptive strength, Carranza altered shots as opponents tried to drive into the heart of the Riverside 2-3 zone defense. Perhaps most importantly, Carranzas role was fine-tuned with the addition of 6-foot-9 Sean Shimer (Ill get to him in a bit). Carranza wasnt looked at the be-all, end-all superstar for the Pirates, although he still had a great year.
He lit up Horizon Christian for 23 points and 12 rebounds and earned himself a spot on the Class 3A all-state second team.
The pressure was lifted and he had himself a fine season.
C - Sean Shimer, sr., Riverside
The new guy for the Pirates this season undoubtedly made the biggest impact on his team this season.
Transferring in from Nyssa at the beginning of the school year, Shimer and his 6-9 frame created one of the most formidable frontcourts in all of Class 3A with Carranza at 6-5 and younger brother Gregg, also at 6-5.
While a knee injury robbed him of about three weeks worth of hoops near the end of the season, Shimer gutted out a 17-point performance against Horizon Christian in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs that nearly pushed his team into the final eight at Marshfield High School.
His 12.9 points per game didnt just come from interior, either. He shot 33 percent from 3-point range and was a 72 percent foul shooter.
Sixth Man - Bryan Beard, C, sr., Pendleton
Every good team needs to rotate its big fellas to keep them fresh, and thats the idea with this pick.
That, and Beard is 6-10 and can touch the ceiling.
While sometimes his presence wasnt felt on the offensive end every night, it was on the defensive end. He blocked 65 shots this year and ripped down 247 rebounds in just 14.7 minutes per game.
Big guys get tired, its a fact of life. Once Beard suits up for the Oregon Institute of Technology, this years NAIA Division II national champ, Ive got a feeling fans will see his full potential.
The sky is the limit with Beard, and with more development on the offensive end he could become a key player in the next title run for the Hustlin Owls in Klamath Falls.
PG - Esau Ibarra, sr., Echo; Omar Murillo, sr., Riverside
SG - Andres Sanguino, sr., Umatilla; Erik Ruiz, sr., Riverside
SF - Zac Orem, sr., Ione
PF - Cody Orr, sr., Heppner
PF - Jose Romero, jr., Irrigon
PG - Luke Jobes, soph., Ione
SG - CJ Flores, soph., Echo; Francisco Nunez, jr., Irrigon; Darius Polhamus, sr., Pendleton
SF - Dylan Enright, sr., Echo
SF - Steven Holland, sr., Ione
PF - Nolan Briscoe, sr., Hermiston
ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM (not by position)
Ramon Contreras, soph., Hermiston
Bryan Beard, sr., Pendleton
Devin Bailey, sr., Stanfield
Marco Carranza, sr., Riverside
Evan Rietmann, sr., Ione
Jose Romero, jr., Irrigon