After sporadic playing time and a pandemic-shortened season in 2021, former Morton-White Pass hoops star and current Central Washington University forward Matt Poquette finally had his breakthrough.
The three-time Central 2B League first-teamer, two-time all-state selection, and one-time C2BL MVP and Chronicle All-Area Player of the Year started 25 games for the Wildcats, averaging 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last spring on a 57% shooting percentage.
Poquette helped the Wildcats — led by head coach Brandon Rinta, a Chehalis product — to a 17-9 record, and an appearance in the conference title game for the first time since 2011, starting all but one game.
Still, after his most successful college season to date, Poquette is looking for more.
Entering his final year of eligibility in college, the Morton-native path to success all started, as you’d expect, working out in an empty gym during the offseason. Only, his most recent offseason was the longest he’s ever had to contend with.
“With COVID, my mindset going into it, without having a season and having these lockdowns, you were going to tell who really loved basketball,” Poquette said.
The CWU senior was a Academic All-GNAC pick in the 2019-20 season, averaging 7.3 points and five rebounds a game while mostly coming off the bench, and when the pandemic hit, Division II hoops halted.
Between his last game of the 2019-20 season and the first game of the 2021-22 season this past year, the Wildcats played six exhibition games over the course of 608 days. No full season was played in 2020-21.
Poquette stuck it out at Central, and those hours and hours in the gym preparing paid off.
“I took every opportunity to get better,” he said. “Putting in time doing that and working on all aspects of my game, it really helped me. A lot of it was confidence for me this year. Working on my whole game helped get me better. Knowing I was working when other people weren’t, I was a lot more confident in my abilities. I took that mindset into this season and proved that it was true.”
But though he put in the work, and helped the Wildcats to a historic postseason run for the program, he’s still setting lofty goals for himself.
In his fifth and final season in Ellensburg, Poquette wants to make sure he leaves his mark on the town and its hoops program.
“I want to make the all conference team,” he said. “I thought I had a good shot at it this year and it didn’t work out in my favor. My goal is to leave no doubt that I’ll be on that and be a good leader for the team and do what I can to win games.
The team goal remains the same, we got to the conference championship and came up short, and our goal is to win that and make the national tournament.”
In the classroom, Poquette just wrapped up his undergraduate degree at Central this June, earning his bachelors in sports management. For his final year, he’ll look to get his masters.
And no matter what happens next year, if he does or doesn’t accomplish his goals at the college level, Poquette will take Morton with him wherever he goes. The work he put in and the lessons he learned in high school only helped him translate those skills at the next level.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Poquette said. “Being able to show that it's possible. Not everyone’s path is going to be the same, some of us come from small areas but it doesn’t mean you can’t play. It’s always a talking point with my teammates with our high school experiences. I’m glad to be from a small town. It’s definitely unique, but the support I get from my community, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”