Everett Community College forward Tucker Molina, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (EvCC photo)

Everett Community College forward Tucker Molina, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (EvCC photo)

Molina powers EvCC men with superb all-around skill-set

The standout forward and Glacier Peak graduate has the Trojans in contention entering league play.

EVERETT — On Dec. 29 the Everett Community College men’s basketball team played it’s final non-conference game prior to the start of Northwest Athletic Conference North Region play, which begins Wednesday. In that game the Trojans defeated a highly regarded Spokane team 79-67 at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center, with Everett’ Tucker Molina controlling play at both ends of the court. The Glacier Peak High School graduate stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.

And the manner in which Molina controlled play was unique.

“He dominated,” Everett coach Mike Trautman said. “Every possession, on both offense and defense, he had so much impact. But he only took six shots! He has that kind of impact without shooting. He’s the wild card, he’s the one who makes us go.”

Indeed, Molina is a unique player, one who defies positional descriptions. While he’s listed as a 6-foot-6 forward on Everett’s roster, the truth is he’s capable of playing any position and in any role on either offense or defense, and Trautman is making full use of Molina’s diverse talents. Molina’s versatility is one of the reasons why the Trojans are 13-2 and looking to reclaim their spot at the top of the North Region.

“I think we’re playing better and better as a team every game,” Molina said. “We’re playing well, but we can definitely play better. It’s just about learning how to play with each other and building trust as a team.”

On the surface, Molina’s numbers don’t pop off the page — he’s just sixth on the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game. But he ranks first on the team in rebounds (6.9), assists (3.8) and blocked shots (1.9) and is second in steals (1.5). While the numbers aren’t huge, they indicate the vast number of ways in which Molina is contributing.

And Trautman is not shy about moving Molina into whatever role the situation dictates.

”In every game we let the matchups determine who he guards,” Trautman said. “Sometimes he guards the opposing point guard, sometimes he guards the post. Sometimes we put him on the other team’s worst shooter and let him roam around and block shots on the weakside or play the passing lanes. He can guard one through five in our league.

“Offensively we’ve played some of our best basketball when we go small, and for us that’s Tucker at the five,” Trautman continued. “But for us that means having five guards outside the 3-point line. We’ll get the ball to him up top and let him get into the lane to pick the defense apart. If they help, then he kicks the ball out for open shots. If not, there’s no big guy who can guard him. He’s run point guard for us, played on the wing and been a post. If teams go zone, we get the ball to Tucker in the high post where he makes the right play. He’s everywhere. He can do it all on both ends of the floor.”

Molina was supposed to bring this skill set to the Trojans last season. However, Molina suffered a high ankle sprain right before Everett’s first game, an injury that kept him out 12 weeks. Molina could have returned for the Trojans’ final few games, but Trautman convinced Molina to take the redshirt and save a year of college eligibility. Everett, which won the previous four region titles, ended up missing the NWAC tournament, but for Trautman it was the right call.

“He really wanted to play,” Trautman said. “But the year of eligibility is more important than 10 games. We always do what’s best for the kid, and I’m glad he finally went along with that.”

“Last year was so hard just sitting every game,” Molina said. “And I didn’t have much of a senior season in high school because of COVID, so it was like two years of nothing. But Trautman brought me in and told me having a full year was probably the smartest, and after thinking it over I agreed with him.”

Now Molina is at full strength, he’s getting a complete freshman season, and he’s serving as Everett’s Swiss army knife.

“I kind of do whatever Trautman needs for us to win,” Molina said. “I like it because I know my role very well. I don’t mind having a role where I’m not scoring as much if that’s what we need to win. If I have to play as the big man and set screens, I’m fine with doing anything.”

Molina, along with a pair of transfers from four-year schools in guards Jadin Penigar (16.9 points per game) and Colton Spencer (14.2 points per game), have Everett back in contention in what is once again a stacked North Region. Four teams from the North were in the top 10 in the most recent NWAC poll, and six teams enter region play 9-4 or better. Only four teams from the region qualify for the NWAC tournament, so it’s going to be a dogfight.

“The goal is definitely finishing first,” Molina said. “I don’t want to lose a game. But making the playoffs for sure is the goal, and hopefully we can go on a little run and win it all.”

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