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Best of the KLAA West: No. 9 boy, Hartland’s Matt Poches

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The realignment of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association means the end of the KLAA West, which was home to Brighton, Hartland, Howell and Pinckney sports teams since the 2008-09 school year.

Brighton, Hartland and Howell will be part of the KLAA Gold along with Grand Blanc, Livonia Stevenson, Northville and Novi in all sports except football, gymnastics, hockey and lacrosse.

Pinckney left the KLAA to join the Southeastern Conference. Milford, which left for the newly formed Lakes Valley Conference, was also part of the KLAA West since its inception. Grand Blanc joined in 2009-10, but was voted out of the league, beginning in 2018-19.

The KLAA West featured some great athletes during its nine seasons of existence. There were state champions, all-staters and others who were just outstanding all-around athletes in multiple sports.

This is part of a series on the top 10 male and female athletes in the history of the KLAA West as chosen by Livingston Daily sports reporter Bill Khan. Unlike our annual Livingston County Athlete of the Year selections, great single-sport athletes are recognized on this list. We will count them down, alternating each between girls and boys.

TOP ATHLETES SO FAR

No. 9 female: Howell’s Veronica Pezzoni

No. 10 male: Howell’s Bryce Lindberg

No. 10 female: Hartland’s Maddie Pogarch

No. 9: MATT POCHES

  • School: Hartland
  • Graduated: 2011
  • Sports: Football, basketball
  • Colleges: Oakland University, Ferris State basketball
  • Accomplishments: Few athletes in Livingston County history were able to elevate their level of play in the biggest games quite like Poches. As a sophomore, he was a major reason why Hartland reached the third round of the state football playoffs for the only time in school history and the regional final in basketball for the only time. In 2008, he had a total of four touchdown catches in playoff victories over Grand Blanc and Howell. That winter, his layup as time expired gave Hartland a 57-55 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the regional semifinals. He was a four-year varsity basketball player whose potential in football was unknown, because he didn’t play his senior year. In his first varsity football game in 2008, he caught three touchdown passes against Livonia Churchill. He was the county’s Player of the Year in basketball in 2010-11, averaging 24.5 points and receiving honorable mention All-State. That included an average of 29.7 points in three district games after he missed eight games with a concussion. He scored 40 points against Howell in his first game back, then hit the winning free throw with 1.8 seconds left against Walled Lake Central in the district semifinals. He was a rare Division I boys’ basketball signee from this county, playing two years at Oakland University before transferring to Ferris State.
  • Comment: “We want to be looked at as a good team and one that leaves a good legacy at Hartland,” Poches said after his final game at Hartland, a loss in the basketball regional semifinals. “I think we did that. It’s good feeling to know we’re going out as district champs, and that hasn’t been done at Hartland a lot. We’re proud of ourselves, and it just sucks that we had to lose.”

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