CLASS 4A BOYS
Favorite | Garfield
This is a tough call. Garfield and Jackson only have one loss between them and it’s the Timberwolves that own the unblemished record. That said, why is Garfield the favorite? Simple: competition. The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs play in the tough Kingco and played teams like Bothell (twice), Issaquah and Franklin this season. Garfield’s one loss came in the season opener to Beamer and it seems the Bulldogs have done a lot of growing up since then. The fun part is Garfield and Jackson could easily meet in the championship game. Garfield’s star is a 6-foot-5 wing Tucker Haymond and a matchup against Jackson’s Jason Todd would be a doozy. Garfield’s first-round matchup is against No. 2-ranked Bothell, which it beat twice this season.
Dark horse | Richland
The team from the Tri-Cities area has won eight games in a row, including a revenge win over fellow state entrant Central Valley in the district tournament. The Bombers dominated Stadium 68-39 in the regional round, prompting Stadium coach Doug Cocke to say, “That’s the best team we’ve played since Curtis.” Richland must first get past Terry Dawn and Arlington in the first round. No easy task as anyone from Wesco knows.
Players to watch
Dominic Robinson, Curtis
Robinson may be small, but his game isnt. The 5-foot-7 point guard led the Vikings to a 24-2 record and the No. 5 ranking in the final Associated Press poll of the season. Robinson averages 15.1 points per game and averages 46.5 percent from beyond the three-point line. With Robinson leading the charge, the Vikings have been dominant this season with the exception of losses to Federal Way and Spanaway Lake — and they will have to be that good or better in Tacoma. Curtis will face either No. 1 ranked Bothell or No. 2 ranked Garfield in the semifinals if they are able to advance past Newport in Thursdays quarterfinal round.
Austin Rehkow, Central Valley
Central Valley’s Austin Rehkow is one of the Bears’ best players but he may be best known for what he did on the gridiron. Back in November, Rehkow kicked a record-breaking 67-yard field goal, breaking not only the Washington State record but tying the second best kick in national high school history. But Rehkow, who is committed to kick for Idaho, is focused on hoops and likes CV’s chances. “I think we’re going to have a good run,” Rehkow told the Spokesman-Review.
Zach LaVine, Bothell
Widely regarded as the best player in the state, LaVine led the Cougars to a 21-3 record and the top 4A ranking in the state in the final Associated Press poll. LaVine, who has committed to play at UCLA after graduation averaged 28.8 points per game this season, leading all players in the greater Seattle area. LaVine scored 30 points or more in 12 of Bothell’s games and surpassed 40 points twice. A season ago LaVine helped lead the Cougars to the state tournament, but they suffered back-to-back losses to eventual state champion Davis and Mt. Rainier respectively and left the Tacoma Dome without a trophy. The 6-foot 4 LaVine came back for his senior season to help Bothell become one of the favorites and is one of the most versatile players in the tournament.
CLASS 3A BOYS
Favorite | Lakeside
The Lions are definitely the feel-good story going into the tournament. Lakeside, a private school in Seattle, hasn’t been in the state tournament since 1991 and isn’t in Tacoma just to enjoy the trip. The Lions play in arguably the toughest league in the state — Metro 3A — and after losing to Rainier Beach twice in the regular season and again in the Metro tournament, they beat the Vikings in the final of the Sea-King tournament, giving them favorite status at state. “You want to peak at the end of the season, and I think we’re doing that right now,” Lakeside coach Tavio Hobson told The Seattle Times. The Lions are led by guard Tramaine Isabell (18.7 points per game) and center Peter French, a 7-footer.
Dark horse | Franklin
The Quakers are a team that can play with anyone — except it would seem Rainier Beach. Franklin beat Stanwood, Bellevue, Seattle Prep and lost to Garfield by only a basket, but it lost to No. 1 Rainier Beach three times this season. The Quakers, however, may be spared having to even play the Vikings if Seattle Prep can take care of business in the first round — Prep beat Rainier Beach 59-57 back in December — Franklin won’t have to even face its nemesis. Franklin is led by forward Patrick Ball, who scored a game-high 25 points in the win over Stanwood in the regional round.
Player to watch
D.J. Fenner, Seattle Prep
Once best known for being the son of former Seahawks running back Derrick Fenner, the Seattle Prep guard is making a name for himself as one of the best basketball players in the state of Washington. He averages 28.2 points per game, just behind Bothell’s Zach LaVine for the most among players in the greater Seattle area. He is on his way to Nevada after graduation, but first has some unfinished business to take care of at the state tournament. His team suffered a 61-58 loss to Rainier Beach in the 3A state championship game a year ago. The 6-foot-6 Fenner scored over 30 points in 11 of 27 games this season.
Tramaine Isabell, Lakeside
The 6-foot-1 Isabell averaged 18.7 points per game this season, but his best stretch of games has come in the postseason. Isabell scored 25 points in a playoff victory over Mercer Island, followed that up with a season-high 31 points in the Sea-King 3A district championship game against Rainier Beach and scored 23 points in a state regional victory over Kennedy. The Lions victory over No. 1 ranked Rainier Beach was their first victory over the Vikings in three tries this season. Isabell is a point guard that can score shoot the three well and is quick and athletic. His string of great games late in the season could make the Lions one of the sleepers for the 3A boys state championship.
CLASS 4A GIRLS
Favorite | Mount Rainier
It could be argued that Mead is the true favorite in the 4A girls tournament. The Panthers have been ranked No. 1 for most of the season and have only one loss, a one-point defeat at the hands of 3A state quarterfinalist University. But experience says otherwise. Mount Rainier has been to state three years straight and is poised to improve on its third-place finish last season. Mead, on the other hand, hasn’t been to state since 2010. Brittany McPhee, who averages 26.8 point and 11.6 rebounds per game, and her sister, Jordan, lead the Rams, who have only lost to nationally ranked Oregon City this season. If Mead and Mount Rainier meet in the semifinals, expect the Rams’ experience of losing to another Spokane school (Central Valley) last season to be a big motivating factor.
Dark Horse | Lake Stevens
It’s no secret that the upper portion of the 4A girls bracket has a slightly easier path to the state championship game. Three of the four teams in the lower portion of the bracket are in the top five of the final Associated Press poll while only one, Gonzaga Prep, in the upper portion is ranked in the top five (No. 3). Lynnwood and Kentwood aren’t even ranked and both teams have seven losses. That said, the Vikings are a team to be reckoned with. Lake Stevens has senior leadership and star players in sisters Brooke and Brittney Pahukoa, motivation after losing in the regionals last season and experience (this is the Pahukoas third trip to Tacoma).
Player to watch
Jade Redmon, Mead
The Panthers senior point guard is the glue of the team and driver of the offense behind the Greater Spokane League champs. Redmon is a four-year starter and was a starter as a freshman on the last Mead team to qualify for the state tournament in 2010. The Eastern Washington recruit averages 15.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season.
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Favorite | Cleveland
So far this season no team in Washington has been able to beat the Eagles from Cleveland. Sure they have two losses, but those came to South Medford (Ore.) and Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) early in the season. After that Cleveland ripped through the Metro League and then went on to win the Metro district title and Sea-King championship. Last week Cleveland did what state title contenders do in one-and-done regional games: The Eagles crushed Kelso 73-35. Now Cleveland is the odd-on favorite in the 3A tournament, especially with No. 1-ranked Prairie watching from the sidelines. Cleveland is led by Metro League player of the year Makala Roper, who averages 15.7 points per game and point guard Myzhanique Ladd, who fuels the Eagles’ fast-break offense.
Dark horse | Kamiakin
Teams from Mid-Columbia Conference are often a mystery — good and bad. Last season Kamiakin journeyed to Tacoma it was the odds-on favorite with an unblemished record and a No. 1 ranking. The Braves were promptly beaten in two games and were out. This year Kamiakin comes in as the underdog at 15-7. But teams would be mistaken to sleep on the Braves, who are led by conference player of the year Courtney Nelson (17.3 ppg), Sira Toure (14.7 ppg) and Lindsey Schauble (10.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg).
Player to watch
Bethany Montgomery, Wilson
If the Rams are going to wind their way through the upper portion of the 3A girls bracket it will be Montgomery driving the bus. The Wilson senior and Eastern Washington signee makes the offense go with her scoring (16.9 ppg) and passing and also plays strong defense, averaging 3.4 steals per game. She is one of seven seniors that haven’t made it past the second round of the 2010 state tournament.