By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Three of the six local teams in this week’s 3A and 4A state tournaments will be facing opponents in the quarterfinal round that they have already faced this season.
One of those three teams is No. 6 Mountlake Terrace, which faces No. 3 Lincoln at 7:15 p.m. in Thursday’s 3A quarterfinal round.
The first game between the Abes and Hawks was an instant classic. It took place on Dec. 8 at the Les Schwab Invitation at Highline Community College. The Abes handed the Hawks one of their three losses on the season, winning 60-59.
As close as the score was, it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
The Hawks might have lost, but those who saw the game could make an argument that they were the better team. They trailed just three times in the contest – at 2-0, 4-2 and the final margin of 60-59.
“I told the guys after the game that if we ever see them again maybe the one-point difference would be in our favor,” Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood said. “Who would have thought that we’d see them again at the end of the season in Tacoma.”
Behind an impressive first-half defensive effort, the Hawks built a 21-7 early in the second quarter and led by as many as 12 in the third. But the Abes slowly clawed their way back into the game in the second half.
Tre’Shaun Fletcher scored 28 points, but none bigger than his free throw in the final minute that gave Lincoln its first lead since the first quarter. Fletcher also blocked Mountlake Terrace guard Jesse Zerom’s shot as time expired to preserve the Abes comeback victory.
Having familiarity with each other will certainly benefit both teams when it comes to the gameplan, but it won’t be the same two teams that faced each other then.
“There is some familiarity with Lincoln, but that is from December,” Sood said. “It’s been two months since then. They’ve improved as a basketball team quite a bit and we’ve improved as a basketball team quite a bit.”
The Hawks have improved and they also have the benefit of having guard Blake Fernandez, who missed the Lincoln game with an injury.
“Adding Blake to this game hopefully will help us,” Sood said. “He might be the difference in getting over the hump. We’ll need him.”
Can Terry Dawn lead Arlington to championship?
Well, he led the Eagles past Bellarmine Prep to get to the Tacoma Dome, so if anything that is a good sign.
His coach certainly thinks Dawn can lead the Eagles to a title.
“Absolutely, without a doubt,” Arlington coach Nick Brown said. “He’s got an inner-fire. I always knew it was there, but I’m really starting to see it more and more as we go further in.”
Dawn scored 29 points, 21 of which came in the first half where he made six of his nine 3-point attempts.
It’s no secret that Dawn has the ability to take over basketball games, but the Eagles have been a much more balanced team throughout the season than they have been in the past. Brown said the surrounding cast is playing just as well Dawn right now.
The Eagles will need that surrounding cast if they are going to make a run at the title.
“I think we are all playing that well, but I think we feed off of Terry,” Brown said. “I think we feed off of each, but I think when Terry plays better, everyone else plays better. He’s a leader and a good leader gets kids to follow him. He did a great job the other night. He had that look in his eye and we all fed off of it.
“He was the best player on the floor, it’s not a question.”
How good are the teams from the East side of the state?
The 3A and the 4A classifications each have one representative from the Spokane area at this year’s Hardwood Classic, University (3A) and Central Valley (4A).
The Titans drew Sea-King 3A district champion, Lakeside, and the Bears have to face the only 4A undefeated team remaining in the state, Jackson.
What do we know about them?
University’s record of 16-7 doesn’t standout, but they have one player who absolutely does. Brett Bailey, a 6-foot-6 senior wing, has already committed to play his college ball at the University of San Diego after graduation. Bailey averages 23.2 points per game and nearly eight rebounds. He has unlimited range and broke the Greater Spokane League’s record for points in a single game with 47.
Central Valley placed second in state last season, losing 48-42 to Davis, but this is a different Bears team. Central Valley’s record of 22-2 is very impressive, but they have just one returning starter and graduated seven from last year’s second place team.
Can Rainier Beach repeat?
Last year’s 3A boys champion are the favorites in many people’s brackets again this season — and with good reason — the Vikings were the No. 1 ranked team in the final Associated Press poll this season.
Will they repeat?
It won’t be easy. Rainier Beach will play Seattle Prep in the Thursday’s quarterfinal. The Vikings faced the Panthers in last year’s state championship game and won 61-58. They faced each other once this season and Seattle Prep got the better of the Vikings 59-57.
If Rainier Beach does get out of the quarterfinals, it would likely face Franklin in the next round, who the Vikings have beat three times this season.
If the Vikings (22-4) are fortunate enough to play for the title on Saturday night they would face one of four teams: Lincoln, Mountlake Terrace, University or Lakeside. All four of those teams are ranked in the top-10.
The Vikings lost their best player from a year ago, Anrio Adams, who went to the University of Kansas after graduating last season. But many of the players who helped the team win last year’s state championship from a year ago are still there.
Rainier Beach also didn’t have a problem replacing Adams. Before the season one of the most sought after recruits in the country, Shaqquan Aaron announced that he was transferring to Rainier Beach after moving from California.
Aaron averaged 18.9 points per game in his first season with the Vikings and committed to play at Louisville earlier this season.
A Top-2 4A team will fall on Day 1
The way the 4A bracket shaped up guaranteed one thing – one of the top-two 4A boys teams in the final Associated Press poll will have their hopes of a state championship end on Thursday.
What many would have wanted to see in the state championship game will be the second boys game of the opening day of the tournament, when No. 1 Garfield faces No. 2 Bothell.
The two teams faced each other twice this season and the Bulldogs got the better of the Cougars each time. Garfield beat Bothell 86-71 on Jan. 22 and again 93-69 on Feb. 15.