RENTON — Coaches and players from the remaining 32 Class 3A and 4A teams met Sunday afternoon at the Renton office of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) to draw opponents and determine times of the first round of the state tournament that begins on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.
First up was the 4A boys draw, which saw Jackson paired against Union at 7:15 p.m. Next the Jackson girls learned they would take on Mount Rainier at 10:30 a.m. Mountlake Terrace drew the dreaded 9 a.m. game — against the dreaded Rainier Beach team — and Shorecrest plays Cleveland at 5:30 p.m.
Most coaches seemed happy with their teams draw, and expressed optimism about their next games. Steve Johnson, the Jackson boys coach, said that the 7:15 start time is the latest he’s ever had at a state tournament.
“The only inconvenient thing about that — that you can’t really control — is our girls pay at 10:30 and we play at 7:15,” Johnson said. “So that’s a bit of a bummer.”
As for his next opponent, which features Brigham Young University commit Jordan Chatman, Johnson said that this late in the season it doesn’t matter what team Jackson faces, he knows it will be a tough opponent.
“Obviously at this point everyone’s good,” Johnson said. “They’re a very good team. They’ve had some success in the past down at the state tournament. Like any team we would’ve drawn they’re a good team.”
Jeannie Boyer, the head coach for the Timberwolves’ girls team, is excited for Jackson’s first trip to state since 2009. She said there might be some rooter buses for Jackson.
“Some kids will get to miss school,” she said.
Boyer said she’s watched Mount Rainier play a couple times and thinks her squad matches up pretty well with the Rams.
“I’ve gotten to see them a couple times and they’re a good team,” Boyer said. “They’re fast and athletic. They have a talented team. I think it’s a good matchup for us. We’ll try to counter some of their strengths and control the tempo of the game.”
Since they have one of the early games, the Timberwolves will stay down in Tacoma on Wednesday night. Boyer thinks the extra night will help her team get acclimated to the environment of the Tacoma Dome. She also is thankful Jackson won’t be playing in the first game of the day, and can watch it from the sidelines instead.
“I’m glad we didn’t get the 9 a.m. one,” Boyer said. “The 10:30 one isn’t as bad.”
The one local team that did draw a 9 a.m. game is Mountlake Terrace, which will face perennial 3A power Rainier Beach, which will be attending its 14th straight state tournament.
“You can’t be choosey. You can’t be picky,” Hawks’ head coach Nalin Sood said.
Sood, looking on the bright side, said there is one advantage to having the first game of the day: “You go play the game and have a lot of the day left to rest.”
When talking about his next opponent the Mountlake Terrace coach says in order to accomplish the Hawks’ main goal, they’re going to have to beat all the teams — including Rainier Beach — sooner or later.
“There’s no dodging anybody with eight teams left,” Sood said. “If you want to accomplish something special in Tacoma you have to beat Rainier Beach and beat the good programs.”
The last draw of the day was the 3A girls. Shorecrest head coach Dori Monson, accompanied by senior captains Janie Uppinghouse and India Matheson, learned that their next opponent would be Cleveland at 5:30 on Thursday.
He wasn’t surprised.
“In the district championship Glacier Peak beat us last year and we got revenge against them this year,” Monson said. “In regionals Timberline beat us last year, and we got revenge against them (Saturday). Two years ago Cleveland knocked us out of state tournament and we’ll look to see if we get a chance to continue our season of redemption.”
Uppinghouse said that the Cleveland team, which won the 3A state title two years ago after beating the Scots, was a topic of conversation on the way to the draw.
“On the car ride down we were talking about how it just seemed like destiny that we’d play Cleveland,” Uppinghouse said. “Then the draw winded down and we’re like, ‘wow. We might actually play Cleveland.’”
Uppinghouse, who said the draw was “a really cool thing to watch,” thinks Shorecrest is primed to continue its season of revenge.
“I think we’re at the top of our game right now,” she said. “This is the moment we’ve been playing for. We’re really excited.”
At the draw, the eight teams remaining in each classification were put into a bowl and opponents were selected. The one stipulation was that a team couldn’t play another team in the same regional. So, for instance, the Jackson boys couldn’t play Bellarmine Prep, who defeated Snohomish in the regional game that took place at Kent Meridian High School immediately after the Timberwolves were victorious against Federal Way.