By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
All games on Tuesday, Edmonds-Woodway at Monroe, 7 p.m., Lake Stevens at Lynnwood, 7 p.m., Snohomish at Jackson, 7 p.m.; Kamiak at Arlington, 7 p.m.
As far as favorite go, it doesn’t get any more clear cut than Lynnwood. The Royals went 15-0 in league play (19-1 overall) and each of its wins was by at least 18 points. Senior point guard Jasmin Edwards leads a relentless defensive attack that creates much of the team’s offense, but when the Royals are forced to operate to execute in the half court, they are just as dangerous. The No. 1-ranked Royals should have smooth sailing to the district title game and an opportunity to advance past the regional round to the Tacoma Dome, where they will be one of the favorites to win the 4A state championship.
The bottom half of the bracket is much more difficult, with Jackson and Arlington being the most likely candidates to advance to the district championship. Arlington (11-3 league, 17-3 overall) has enjoyed had a stellar season, but most likely will have to beat two teams they failed to beat in the regular season to set up a meeting with Lynnwood. In the first round, the Eagles face Kamiak, which handed Arlington its first loss of the season. Arlington also could face Jackson, which defeated the Eagles on Jan. 22, in the semifinals.
DARK HORSE: SNOHOMISH
The Panthers’ record isn’t all that impressive, but they have the talent to beat almost anyone on any given night. Snohomish had an impressive short-handed victory over Edmonds-Woodway in mid-January, played Arlington tough twice and nearly knocked off Jackson. The third seed from the Wesco North is a difficult spot for the Panthers to be in because they have to go on the road to Jackson in the first round, but if they can get past the Timberwolves, they likely will get a third opportunity at the Eagles, with the winner advancing to the state-regional round and the district championship game.
Sophomore Madeline Smith is one of the more talented players in the league. A good showing in districts might help the Panthers peak at the right time.
DID YOU KNOW?
For the second straight season Lynnwood is a heavy favorite to win the district tournament, and for good reason. The Royals stormed through Wesco this season, winning all 15 games and doing it by an average margin of 34.8 points.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Kelli Kingma, G, Jackson
Kingma is one of the most potent scorers in the area, but her offensive excellence will be needed even more in the postseason. The Timberwolves are capable of making a run to the district championship, but will have to do it without one of their best players, junior Faithaleen Lopez-Flores, who injured her knee against Lynnwood earlier this season. Without the usual points Lopez-Flores provides, Kingma, as well as guard Sierra Anderson, will be even more important to the Timberwolves’ chances of surviving the district tournament.
GAME WE WANT TO SEE
Arlington vs. Jackson
In their only meeting of the regular season, Jackson squandered an 18-point first-half lead, but ultimately held on for a 58-56 victory over the Eagles. Should the two teams get past their district openers, they would meet in the second round with a trip to regionals and the district championship on the line. Arlington would seem to be the favorite in the second meeting. The Timberwolves’ earlier victory came before the injury to Faithaleen Lopez-Flores, who scored 18 points in the first meeting. In Kelli Kingma and Sierra Anderson, the Timberwolves have players who can help fill the offensive void left by the injury to Lopez-Flores. A second meeting between these two teams might wind up being the most competitive game of the tournament since either would be a heavy underdog against Lynnwood in the district-championship game.
Lynnwood over Arlington in the district championship (both teams to regionals). Jackson over Snohomish to advance to a winner-to-regional game against the No. 3 team from Kingco.