Girls hoops regional preview: Vikings are veterans at state

The Vikings have become perennial state contenders, participating in five of the past six state tournaments. Last season was Lake Stevens best showing, with the Vikings finishing fourth. Lake Stevens once again goes in as the District 1 No. 1 seed, after winning its third district championship in a row.

“We have a good half of our group that was there last year,” Randall Edens, the Lake Stevens head coach, said. “And a few of them, like the twins (Brittney and Brooke Pahukoa) and Katie (Goddard), this is their third one. …They know what to expect. When you step out in that environment it’s a different atmosphere.”

Lake Stevens vs. Skyview, Saturday night, 6 p.m. at Kent-Meridian H.S.

Edens said Skyview, the Vikings’ opponent Saturday is “a good sized team,” with three girls that stand at 5-feet, 11-inches or taller. Lake Stevens’ only loss of the season came against a team with a similar feature. “We’ve run into that with Stanwood a little bit and they gave us some issues with that,” Edends said, adding that Lake Stevens hopes to maintain its up-tempo pace to be successful.

INEXPERIENCED TIMBERWOLVES HUNGRY: This years’ Timberwolves team is a younger group, with only four seniors on the squad. Of those four seniors, two were on the last Jackson team that went to state in 2009.

“For us it’s been a couple years since we’ve been to the state tournament,” said Jeannie Boyer, the Timberwolves’ head coach. “Most of our kids this will be there first state playoff game except for Kristin Stoffel and Mary Johnson. Hopefully we can overcome the potential nerves from that and just come out and play that style of basketball.”

Jackson vs. Kentwood, Saturday night, 4 p.m. at Kent-Meridian H.S.

Boyer said that there’s not too much she can do to simulate the pressure of a state tournament game in practice. She knows there will be “butterflies in their stomachs” come Saturday night, but she does think that a close loss in the district championship game has left her team even more motivated to continue its season.

“I think it’s made them hungry,” Boyer said. “They’re competitive players and they don’t like losing. They’re not ready for their season to be done on Saturday. They want to push forward and play at the dome and hopefully get a chance to get a trophy.”

SPARTANS BLOWING UP: Stanwood has the shortest layover of the four 4A teams, beating Skyline 61-50 on Tuesday to earn a berth in the regionals round of the state tournament.

Stanwood head coach Dennis Kloke said after the game that he doesn’t think that will be an issue for the Spartans, because since the week of games lost to snow in January his team has routinely had one or two days to prepare for the next game.

Stanwood vs. Federal Way, Saturday, 4 p.m. at Auburn H.S.

The last time Stanwood played in the state tournament was over a decade ago. On Mar. 6, 1998 “The Big Lebowski” and “U.S. Marshalls” were released into theaters while Stanwood lost to Chief Sealth 64-57 in overtime at the (now-imploded) Kingdome. The Spartans were in the 3A classification then, and will find themselves back in the same classification after some restructuring of the Wesco leagues next year.

“It’s been over a decade since Stanwood’s been to state,” Kloke said after the Spartans defeated Skyline game on Tuesday. “It’s been a goal to get to state. It’s a huge game for the school and the community.”

GRIZ CRASH PARTY AGAIN: A year a go the Glacier Peak girls basketball team crashed the 3A state party, upsetting Shorecrest in the district title game after finishing fifth in the Wesco 3A standings during the regular season. Though the Grizzlies improved to second in the league standings this year, they came up short to the Scots Feb. 18 and barely escaped Lynnwood Tuesday to advance to the team’s second trip to state in as many years.

The Grizzlies have made it this far thanks to a determined trio of seniors: Katie Hawkins (a Seattle University signee), Taylor Rasmussen and Torrey Hill. Point guard Hawkins leads the team with 15 points per game, but Rasmussen will hit open 3s all day when teams try to double the GP point guard. Hill, who is coach Brian Hill’s niece, is third on the team in scoring.

Glacier Peak vs. Lakeside, Saturday, 4 p.m. at Bellevue College

Like the boys, the girls face a ranked team from Seattle’s Metro League that has won more state titles (5) than years Glacier Peak has been open (4). Unlike the boys, Lakeside does not appear to be as much of a buzzsaw as Rainier Beach. The Lions are led by Kaylee Best’s 12.2 points per game. GP hasn’t ever played Lakeside, but that won’t keep Hill from getting his team ready,

“I have some friends that coach in Metro so I’ll probably get some information,” the GP coach said. “I know they are good and they are playing in a really tough league.”

SCOTS TAKE THE LONG ROAD: The 2012 trip to the 3A state tournament has been a long time in the making for Shorecrests’ five seniors. The girls have been playing together since they were in sixth grade and current SC head coach Dori Monson has been coaching the group since the beginning. Two of the seniors were on Monson’s team while they were in kindergarten.

“It’s really emotional,” Monson said of his seniors’ playing careers winding down. “It’s been an emotional last couple weeks. Very satisfying, but it’s going to be very hard to lose this group of kids.”

Shorecrest vs. Timberline, Saturday, 6 p.m. at Jackson H.S.

The group is peaking at the right time, playing what Monson called the teams best game of the season in the district title win over Glacier Peak. Senior center India Matheson, who averages nine points and eight rebounds a game is nearly back to 100 percent according to the Scots coach after missing most of January with an illness. While Matheson was out, leading scorer Bri Lasconia (17.8 ppg) filled the void, including scoring 45 points in one game.

“(She) just elevated her game to a level I’ve never seen. It’s just been unbelievable,” Monson said.

The Scots are in their third straight state tournament after missing out every year between 1981-2010. A year ago they dropped a 52-46 decision to Timberline, who they will get a chance to earn a measure of revenge against Saturday at Jackson H.S.

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