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Lewis Orange Belt Player of the Year
Josh Lewis played in the shadow of Dante Cunningham as a junior for the Granite Hills boys basketball team. But as a senior, it was his time to break out and with plenty of help from a solid corp of teammates, Lewis led Granite to a memorable season.
Lewis becomes the second straight Granite Hills player to be named as the Orange Belt Player of the Year in boys basketball this year, following in the footsteps of Cunningham, who was the Orange Belt Player of the Year last season. The all-Orange Belt Team is selected from players from Monache, Porterville, Granite Hills, Strathmore and Lindsay High Schools.
Lewis had an all-around outstanding season in leading the Grizzlies to the East Sequoia League title, Granite’s first league crown in 10 years, averaging 16.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
“This year he was more confident, more relaxed in the offense,” Granite Hills coach Bud Luther said. “He’s probably the most improved player I’ve ever had from one year to the next.”
For his part while Lewis obviously didn’t like the way the season ended, a loss to Chowchilla in the Division IV Valley quarterfinals, he said it was still a successful year. “I felt good about the season,” he said.
Lewis was matter-of-fact about his goals this season when he said, “My goals, averaging 15 (points), lead us to a championship. I personally feel really great.”
About winning league, Lewis said, “it was phenomenal. We bonded like a family. We bonded together this year. Four years of hardship. We wanted this to be a great season that we could remember. We made history.”
And even though Granite had already clinched a share of the ESL title, Lewis said the Grizzlies wanted to win the title outright, which they did in resounding fashion in a 66-46 win over Woodlake in the regular season finale.
“We worked too hard to tie it up,” said Lewis about the league title. “It felt amazing. We had to work even harder for that win.”
Lewis said he hopes to play at the junior college level next year and eventually wants to play at the four-year level. Here’s the rest of the all-Orange Belt Team:
Clay Congdon, Granite — An all-ESL first team choice, Congdon was strong on defense and rebounding and provided added scoring for Granite.
Francisco Lopez, Granite — Lopez was the ESL co-Defensive Player of the Year and also a shooting threat from the outside for the Grizzlies.
Gaven Mann, Lindsay — The ESL Most Valuable Player, Mann was an outstanding shooter for the Cardinals.
Jacob Hernandez, Lindsay — Another all-ESL first team pick, Hernandez was another outstanding scoring threat for Lindsay.
Andrew Pearson, Strathmore — An all-ESL second team pick, Pearson was a solid all-around player for the Spartans.
Adam Kittrell, Monache — A solid post player for the Marauders, Kittrell averaged 8.8 points and 7.1 rebounds a game.