They were the MVP front-runners for much of the season, and in the end, they were both named as the league’s top players.
Montesano senior Trace Ridgway and Hoquiam sophomore Michael Lorton Watkins were named 1A Evergreen League co-MVPs as league officials announced its All-League Boys Basketball Team on Wednesday.
Lorton-Watkins and Ridgway each led their team in scoring and were two of the top scorers in the league in 2021.
Ridgway carried Montesano to a 4-1 league record before a knee injury and subsequent COVID quarantine ended his season early. The Bulldogs senior led Monte with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in a win over Tenino on May 18 and was consistently Monte’s leading scorer when on the court.
Lorton Watkins emerged as the league’s top guard, improving throughout the season. The Hoquiam sophomore put his name in contention for league MVP with a stellar performance in a 66-49 victory at Montesano on May 21. In that game, Lorton Watkins scored 30 points — 20 in the second quarter alone — in one of the best shooting performances on the Harbor in recent memory. Lorton Watkins hit 8-of-10 threes in the game, including a mid-court buzzer-beater to end the third quarter.
“Lorton Watkins is a special type of player who shows up early, leaves late and puts in the time,” Hoquiam head coach Kyle Blumberg said of his leading scorer. “He’s never satisfied with his game or his studies, always trying to get better at anything he does and is a prime example of the positive culture we have started here at Hoquiam. … It was an honor to coach him this year and I look forward to coaching him and all our Grizzlies in the years to come.”
Speaking of Blumberg, the first-year Hoquiam head coach was named the league’s Coach of the Year after guiding the Grizzlies to a 6-1 league record before school officials shut down the remainder of the school sports season due to COVID concerns.
“First off, I want to thank everyone who supported our program from the start. Without the administration and the coaching staff the individual awards do not happen,” Blumberg said, acknowledging the contributions of his assistant coaches Zac Reynvaan, Skyler Jump and Jeremy McMillan. “This was a difficult year for everyone to get through, not just our staff but for Monte, Tenino and Elma. I thank all the coaches who competed with us on the court and I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Four additional Grays Harbor County athletes were named to the First Team. Elma’s Nick Church, who led the Eagles to a their first berth in the district-championship game in over 20 years, was named to the First Team as was Montesano’s Caydon Lovell and Hoquiam’s Dane McMillan and Justice Stankavich.
Local athletes named to the Second Team were Hoquiam’s Abe Morales and Elma’s Canon Seaberg, Cobey Moore and Sawyer Witt.
The full 1A Evergreen All-League Team is as follows:
1A Evergreen All-League Boys Basketball Team
Co-League MVP — Trace Ridgway, sr., Montesano; Michael Lorton Watkins, soph., Hoquiam
Coach of the Year — Kyle Blumberg, Hoquiam
Nick Church, sr., Elma; Caydon Lovell, jr., Montesano; Takari Hickle, jr., Tenino; Dane McMillan, sr., Hoquiam; Justice Stankavich, soph., Hoquiam
Canon Seaberg, jr., Elma; Conleth Jackson, sr., Tenino; Abraham Morales, sr., Hoquiam; Cobey Moore, sr., Elma; Sawyer Witt, sr., Elma