There have been one or two times when Oakville coach Marcus Whittaker expected to wake up to a firestorm, but Wednesday was not one of them. Come the morning, though, there it was.
“I had coaches, friends texting me, and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’” said the second-year coach of the Acorns. “And they were like, ‘Twitter’s on fire.’”
The situation arose from a post on Twitter alleging that the 1B Coastal League — which the Acorns are currently dominating — demanded Oakville send out its junior varsity team to play the remainder of its league matchups due to the lopsided scores its varsity team had posted.
The Acorns did in fact play their JV squad against North River on Tuesday, but it was for a different reason entirely, Whittaker and Oakville athletic director Christina Mootz confirmed. Instead of the Coastal trying to get back at the Acorns, the JV matchup — and another to follow — came about to give Oakville a chance to play more non-league games.
“The league wanted us to be successful this season and offered to play our JV the second half of the season so that we had extra games for varsity to pick up against higher teams,” Mootz said in an email.
Per WIAA rules, teams are capped at 20 games during the regular season. The Acorns are currently set to play 19, including eight 1BCL matchups instead of the usual 10. The extra game slots allowed them to bolster their non-league slate, which included 3A River Ridge, 2As Centralia and North Mason, and 2Bs Chief Leschi, Adna, and Rainier.
The difference between league and non-league results has been stark; in five 1BCL contests so far, the Acorns are currently outscoring opponents by just about 60 points. The discrepancy between them and the rest of the league came to a head in a 107-4 blowout of Mary M. Knight.
“We shouldn’t have even been playing that game in the first place, but on the other hand, it’s a league game, so you should be playing that game,” Whittaker said. “It’s kind of like being between a rock and a hard place doing that. But as far as the other coaches, I haven’t had any coaches say anything negative to me.”
With the Acorns coming off an opening-round appearance at the state tournament last season and the rest of the league anticipating a down year, the writing was on the wall for such contests — hence the league’s plan with the school to both avoid too many blowouts and give Oakville better preparation for the upcoming postseason.
And for the record, while Oakville will send its JV team out to face Mary M. Knight’s varsity, the varsity squad will play the other three league games left on its schedule — against Lake Quinault on Thursday, at Taholah next Tuesday, and at home next Friday against Wishkah Valley for senior night.
For now, though, Whittaker’s focus is on keeping his players’ minds set on the task at hand with the district tournament on the horizon. Oakville has placed at State once since World War II, but he thinks this could well be the team to make a run, so long as they keep the outside distractions outside.
“They hear it, they read what’s on social media, and they were like, ‘Coach, are we really like this?’” he said, “I was like, ‘You guys do not go to social media and start reading anything. You guys don’t do that, you guys don’t worry about it, just play basketball. If all you guys are thinking about is what these grownups are saying, you’re not going to be any good.’”