The Herald asked area coaches to name their best defensive players. Here’s who they nominated:
Matt Gebert, Everett | 6-3, Sr. Forward
Key defensive contributions: Led team in charges taken.
Coach’s comment: Gebert can “guard anywhere on the floor, whether it is in the post, on the wing or corralling the point guard. He is everywhere.” The senior’s “ability to guard any player on the floor and play great help position (make) Matt such a great defender.” — Aaron Nations, Everett coach
Dylan Buck, Meadowdale | 6-4, Sr., Post
Coach’s comment: “Dylan’s athleticism, work ethic, and intelligence make him a great defender who loves the challenge of guarding the other team’s best post player.” — Chad McGuire, Meadowdale coach
Kevin Yates, Snohomish | 6-0, Jr., Guard
Coach’s comment: “Kevin is tough-minded with quick hands and quick feet.”—Len Bone, Snohomish boys basketball coach
Dom Kiblinger, Marysville-Pilchuck | 6-0, Jr., Guard
Key defensive contributions: 2.0 steals and nearly 6.0 rebounds per game.
Coach’s comment: “He is a lock-down defender that communicates well and has the ability to defend the point or even bigger players. He is mentally tough and not easily intimidated.”— Bary Gould, Marysville-Pilchuck coach
Lorin Vandegrift, Lake Stevens | 6-7, Jr., Post
Coach’s comment: “Blessed with height, length, and good timing, Lorin is able to block and challenge a lot of shots. Additionally, he is a great help defender and good rebounder.” — Mark Hein, Lake Stevens coach
Payton Pervier, Glacier Peak | 6-11, Sr., Post
Key defensive contributions: 98 blocks (4.5 per game), including a record-setting 24 blocks during the Class 3A state tournament.
Denzel Massey, Oak Harbor | 5-9, Sr., Guard
Key defensive contributions: 2.5 steals per game.
Coach’s comment: “Denzel is a tenacious defender and competitor. He jams cutters, chests drivers, gets hands in passing lanes, boxes out very well and has quick hands that enable him to steal from many ball-handlers.” — Mike Washington, Oak Harbor coach
Zach Taylor, Cedarcrest | 6-0, Soph., Guard
Key defensive contributions: Started as a freshman and led team in every defensive category, including steals (2.7 per game).
Coach’s comment: “Zach is a good defender because he has active feet, great anticipation, a willingness to dive for loose balls and a strong mental toughness.” — Micah Rieke, Cedarcrest coach
Nicholas Kussman, Kamiak | 6-1, Jr., Guard
Key defensive contributions: Led team in charges taken (six) despite playing in just 12 games, and averaged 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal.
Coach’s comment: “He proved this summer that he could guard not only smaller guards but also taller guards/posts. He is relentless in stopping his man while playing team defense and communicating with his teammates.” — Cory West, Kamiak coach
Chima Acholonu, Jackson | 5-10, Sr., Guard
Coach’s comment: “Quick, strong and I think/hope one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.” — Steve Johnson, Jackson coach
Martinez Johnson, Mountlake Terrace | 5-9, Sr., Guard
Key defensive contribution: 1.5 steals per game.
Coach’s comment: “Not sure if last year there was another player in the league that night after night had to take on opponents’ highest-scoring guards. Many of those nights he held his opponent to much less than their average. (Martinez) was voted team defensive MVP as determined by his teammates.” — Nalin Sood, Mountlake Terrace coach
Joey Roppo, Monroe | 6-1, Sr., Guard
Key defensive contributions: 2.5 steals per game and among team’s deflection leaders.
Coach’s comment: “We consider him as our top defensive guard because he is rarely out of position, and because of his versatility he has been asked to defend all types of guards from the point, shooting guards, to small forwards.” — Nick Wold, Monroe coach
Kenny Jackson, Cascade — 5-6 Sr. Guard
Coach’s comment: “Kenny’s hands and feet are extremely quick and he has a passion for stopping what an offensive player wants to do.” — Dan Hornaday, Cascade coach