The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Boys Basketball Team
MWP’s Matt Poquette Gets Top Billing Among Lewis County’s Hoops Talent
By Aaron VanTuyl
Matt Poquette had a lot to live up to this season.
The 6-foot-5 Morton-White Pass senior was the heavy preseason favorite for the Central 2B League MVP award, was widely regarded as one of the two best 2B players in the state, and knew he’d face double teams and gimmick defenses night in and night out.
How’d it all work out?
“The season went pretty good. We were kind of picked to be an underdog, and I think we exceeded a lot of expectations,” he said. “Individually I had a pretty good season. I’m proud of how I played and proud of all my teammates.”
That “pretty good” season includes the aforementioned C2BL MVP award, the WIBCA 2B Player of the Year Award, a trip to the state tournament in Spokane and The Chronicle’s All-Area Boys Basketball MVP award.
“That’s no surprise at all,” Toledo guard Reece Wallace, who faced off against Poquette’s MWP squad twice this year, said of Poquette’s laundry-list of awards. “It’s tough, when you’re put in that position, and to be able to put up those numbers consistently is ridiculous.”
Poquette, in 29 games, averaged 23.9 points, 4.75 assists, 9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.5 blocked shots a game, while shooting 57 percent from the floor for a 21-8 team.
He also drew the toughest defensive assignment night in and night out, like covering Wallace and Adna’s Cody Young — both members of this year’s All-Area squad, along with W.F. West’s Brandon White and Jordan Thomas.
“It’s pretty hard most of the time, because trying to get a shot off with a 6-5 lengthy kid on you’s pretty hard,” Young said of Poquette. “With his length, and how much he’s worked on his game over the years. … He’s got a pull-up now, and he can shoot really good outside.”
Everyone’s noticed his improvement. The senior played in the post as a sophomore and junior, but moved to more of a guard role this season.
“He had to transfer over from being a dominant post to being a guard, and he’s really done a great job of accepting that role, that ‘Hey, I’m going to have to start playing a little more guard,’” Wallace said. “They needed a great facilitator, and he’s really extended his range out, behind the 3-point line, and that’s taken his game to the next level, to where he’s going to be playing somewhere.”
Poquette put together a string of big games in December, scoring 40 against Adna on Dec. 14, then scoring 41 with 15 rebounds in an overtime win against La Center five days later. He announced his plans to play college ball at Central Washington University in January, but when CWU didn’t renew 23-year coach Greg Sparling’s contract earlier this week Poquette re-opened his recruitment.
“I’ve had quite a few schools reach out, but I’m still not really sure yet,” he said, as to his future plans. “I’m still talking to some other schools and seeing how it goes.”
Here’s more on the rest of the 2018 All-Area Squad.
Cody Young finished his prep career with 1,017 points, led Adna to match its highest state finish (third) in program history and was voted to the All-C2BL first-team.
That, though, didn’t quite capture what Young, a point guard standing all of 5-foot-8, did night in and night out on the court.
“He’s one of those guys you hate to play against, just because you know how active he is,” MWP’s Matt Poquette said. “And watching him, when you’re watching Adna, your eyes just get drawn to him, because wherever he’s at there’s something going on or some play being made.”
Young averaged 17.9 points a game, with 5.7 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.7 boards a night, while shooting 53 percent from the field and 42 percent (57 of 137) from behind the arc.
“He’s got guys around him and can make stuff happen,” Toledo’s Reece Wallace said. “He’s so quick, he’s good off the dribble, he’s got a good 3-point shot, and it makes it so hard to guard him.”
The Gym Rat
Reece Wallace made a bit of history this season, tying the District 4 2B tournament record for 3-pointers made in a game (nine) and breaking the tourney record for 3s (24 over five games; the old mark was 20, set in 1992).
“Since we’re about in third grade we’ve been playing each other,” Adna’s Cody Young said of Wallace. “He can shoot really well, and he gets open, too. He knows hot to go off screens and stuff.”
The point guard averaged 16.5 points a game, with 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists, but hit a whopping 98 triples (shooting 41 percent from long range) and helped the Indians back to the State 2B tournament.
“It’s definitely tough guarding him,” MWP’s Matt Poquette said. “I hate playing Toledo. I know every time we do, I’m going to be running around screens left and right, and he gets his shot off quick, to it’s tough to guard him.”
The Big Guy
Brandon White had a fine regular season, setting the Bearcats’ career record for blocked shots and earning a spot on the Evergreen 2A Conference All-League first team.
When the state playoffs rolled around, though, the 6-foot-8 senior picked it up in a big way, averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game in Yakima as W.F. West stunned the field to reach the state championship game.
“Coming up to the state tournament he wasn’t as aggressive, and I felt like it changed when we got there,” teammate Jordan Thomas said. “He flipped a switch and he was a whole nother player. He took control and took over the games.”
White finished the season averaging 11.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.4 blocks a game while shooting 49 percent from the field, and playing the middle spot in the Bearcats’ terrorizing zone defense but playing more of a swingman role on the offensive end.
“Brandon brought physicality and tough defense, and helped us out on top. We knew if we got beat we always had Brandon to lean on to block their shot or contest,” Thomas said. “And he could also shoot. He’s what you’d call a unicorn — a big man that could shoot, or do everything else, and drive.”
Did White, who set the blocks record in a Jan. 17 win over Tumwater, ever swat Thomas in practice?
“He’s done more than that,” Thomas said with a laugh. “I’ll just keep that at that.”
Jordan Thomas transferred in to W.F. West at the end of last year, and made an immediate impact with the Bearcats.
“He was pretty cool to play with,” teammate Brandon White said. “We were fortunate enough to get to play with him in the summer, and that was a real big building process as a team. He helped us out, and he was a real good teammate, too.”
He was a big part of helping a Bearcat squad that had gone 10-12 a year earlier roll undefeated through the Evergreen 2A Conference and finish with a 25-5 record, reaching the state finals for the first time since 1960.
Thomas averaged 11.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals a game, shooting 51 percent from the field. His defense, though, was the drawing card; the 6-foot-4 All-EvCo first-team pick gave opposing guards fits all year long.
“He’s really long and gets in your face, too, with their ball-handlers and their point guards, that makes them feel real uncomfortable,” White said. “Then offensively, he’s really fast tempo. He brings the ball up real well, and he knows how to attack and draw fouls really well.”
Thomas hit game-tying and game-winning free throws in W.F. West’s play-in win over North Kitsap in Yakima.
“He was part of the journey there, and state, too,” White said. “I think he did a great job, and added a new element to our team, too.”
The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Boys Basketball Team
MVP: Matt Poquette Sr. G/F Morton-White Pass 23.9 ppg
Cody Young Sr. G Adna 17.9 ppg
Jordan Thomas Sr. G W.F. West 11.7 ppg
Brandon White Sr. G/F W.F. West 11.6 ppg
Reece Wallace Sr. G Toledo 16.5 ppg