There are few things more exciting in a high school basketball game than when someone throws down a thunderous dunk and brings the crowd to its feet.
And that’s exactly what recently-graduated W.F. West forward Carter McCoy has been treating fans and spectators to for the past two years.
The 6-foot-5 McCoy built a reputation around the 2A Evergreen Conference this season for living above the rim and turning breakaways and open lanes into crowd-pleasing jams.
The 2A Evergreen Conference MVP was much more than just a dunker, using his athleticism to become a dependable rebounder, lockdown defender and shot blocker. When the Bearcats faced a top-notch scoring threat, it was McCoy who drew the assignment, and not many opponents wanted to risk getting stuffed.
“Carter is a fierce competitor with a high IQ for the game,” W.F. West coach Chris White said. “He has incredible footwork and a motor that never quits. He’s an elite rebounder, defender and finisher. Carter has been a joy to coach and will be greatly missed. We look forward to watching him at the next level at LCC.”
McCoy was the only boys basketball player in The Chronicle’s coverage area to average a double-double for the season, tallying 14.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and three steals per game.
His all-around abilities helped the Bearcats go 11-5 overall, 9-1 in league and advance to the 2A District 4 championship game.
For all the reasons mentioned above, McCoy is The Chronicle’s 2021 all-area MVP.
Dirk Plakinger, W.F. West
If Carter McCoy was the Vince Carter of the 2A EvCo, then Dirk Plakinger was Shawn Kemp. The 6-foot-4 junior combined with McCoy to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenders. Any time the Bearcats were on a fastbreak, opponents had to worry about getting posterized by one of the two.
And while Plakinger was no doubt a vicious dunker, it was far from his only strength. With a smooth shooting stroke, he could knock down 3s at will, pull down crucial rebounds and cause problems for opposing offenses on the other end of the court.
He was the Bearcats’ second-leading scorer, averaging 12 points per game while adding 3.4 boards, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game to earn second-team all-2A EvCo honors.
“Dirk has a beautiful jumper, is a gifted slasher and is an exciting finisher at the rim,” White said. “He plays with a smooth rhythm and is a pleasure to coach and watch.”
Keith Olson, Napavine
At 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, there are few post players around who are more imposing than Napavine junior Keith Olson.
One of the top football linemen in the state and nation, Keith Olson is not just a big body to fill space in the paint, he’s a legit formidable threat on the basketball court.
Olson, who was a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore in 2020, earned first-team honors this year after averaging 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Few teams had an answer for Olson, who was not only one of the largest players in the league, but was also one of the strongest.
And he didn’t just bully his way to baskets and rebounds, he also has adept footwork and is a gifted passer in the paint.
“He’s a matchup problem for everyone in the league,” Napavine coach Rex Stanley said. “He has really good hands and feet. If he’s not scoring, he’s making it easier on his teammates. His teammates love him. He has all the characteristics of a guy you want on your team.”
Chase Collins, Adna
Few players in The Chronicle’s coverage area can knock down shots as effectively and efficiently as Adna junior Chase Collins.
The speedy guard and first-team all-league selection was the Pirates’ leading scorer, averaging 16.3 points on a scorching 65% shooting from the field. He added 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game as well.
Even more impressive, he owns Adna’s record for 3-pointers in a single game with nine, set as a sophomore in 2020. He also owns the school’s record of season 3-point shooting percentage with 47%.
His electric shooting helped the Pirates knock off league champ Toutle Lake in the district quarterfinals, eventually placing fourth at districts after reeling off an 8-0 record to start the season and finish 8-2 overall.
“Chase is a lights-out shooter,” Adna coach Luke Salme said. “Teams have to game plan to limit his shots. He is also very physically-gifted. Quick and strong.”
Tyler Blake, Morton-White Pass
Morton-White Pass started out the season as the whipping post for the 2B Central League, losing five of its first six games.
Then coach Chad Cramer and his Timberwolves smashed their foot on the pedal, toppling a previously-unbeaten Napavine team that ended up finishing second at districts.
The T-Wolves next had then-undefeated and eventual league champion Toutle Lake on the ropes before losing on a last-second buzzer beater.
They weren’t done yet. MWP then blew out a two-loss Wahkiakum team that would go on to place third at districts. Oh, and district champ Kalama? MWP lost to the Chinooks in triple overtime.
The Timberwolves were the one squad that teams did not want to face at districts. Unfortunately, COVID protocol ended their season just before the tourney.
Senior Tyler Blake was a big part of their success, leading The Chronicle’s coverage area in scoring with 19.3 points per game on a blazing 50.3% shooting. He also averaged 8.7 rebounds per game.
A superb finisher at the rim, Blake used a variety of moves to keep defenses in check, evidenced by a career-high 37 points against Stevenson.
“Tyler was a real special player for us this year,” Cramer said. “He was a great leader and super dedicated. He rebounded very well on both ends of the floor and was as good in transition as we’ve had in a long time. He really surprised the league with his play. I’m really proud of how far he developed in his four years.”
Carlo Arceo-Hansen, Toledo
Not many players were as talented of scorers as Toledo senior Carlo Arceo-Hansen was this season.
Arceo-Hansen was the main focus of every opponent Toledo played, as the team had just one other senior with prior playing time. The fact that he still managed 18.5 points per game, which included a season-high of 29 in the district opener against Northwest Christian (Lacey), was impressive.
He was far from just a big-time scorer, however, averaging seven boards, six assists and three steals per game to help Toledo (7-5 overall) advance to the district quarterfinals, losing to a Wahkiakum team that ended up placing third.
“Carlo is the type of player that every coach wants to have,” Toledo coach Grady Fallon said. “He puts in a lot of work on his own time, strength and quickness, as well as ball handling and shooting. He has a knack for getting to the hole and finding the open guy under the hoop.”
The first-team all-league selection has the personality to match, Fallon said.
“Sometimes he’ll just wink at you for no reason on the court, or send a random text like, ‘happy Memorial Day, coach,’” Fallon said. “He’s a one-of-a-kind kid that we’re all going to miss.”
Gunner Mulligan, Mossyrock
Rounding out the all-area team is 6-foot-4 Mossyrock standout Gunner Mulligan. The junior proved he could do it all for the Vikings this season.
“Gunner has a motor that doesn’t quit,” Mossyrock coach Adam Deck said. “He’s the equivalent of a five-tool baseball player. He can shoot, pass, rebound, play defense and handle the ball. He’s also a great teammate.”
Often-times one of tallest players on the court, Mulligan moves and plays like a much smaller guy, slashing and attacking the rim with buttery smoothness. He also has the best handles on a team that went 11-5 overall and advanced to the 1B District 4 semifinal round.
He led the Vikings with 18 points, eight rebounds and 5.4 steals per game to earn first-team all-league honors. Deck said he would have been league MVP had he been a little more selfish with the ball.