By David Krueger Herald Writer
The Lynnwood girls basketball team’s state experience at the Tacoma Dome is going to get off to an early start.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association held a draw Sunday afternoon at its Renton office to determine matchups for the quarterfinals of the state basketball tournaments, including the 3A/4A Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome. The Royals were paired up against Kentwood in a Thursday morning game scheduled to start at 9 a.m.
The dreaded 9 a.m. slot isn’t one a lot of coaches want, but Lynnwood head coach Everett Edwards was looking at the positives Sunday night.
“You don’t necessarily have time to let the nerves get to you. You’re the first ones in the gym,” Edwards said. “You get a chance to watch everybody else play the rest of the day. So we’re trying to turn a perceived negative thing into a positive thing.”
For a list of the local teams’ matchups and brackets, click here.
Perhaps the more interesting aspect of the Royals’ draw was the opponent they will face. Kentwood ended Lynnwood’s season last year with a 61-60 victory in the state regional round.
The Royals are looking forward to the rematch.
“We feel good about it,” Edwards said. “Obviously, they knocked us out last year in the regional round. Much respect to that team but it’ll be fun to rematch and play them again.”
The last time Lynnwood, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the Associate Press poll, went to Tacoma in 2010 – as a 3A school – it played two 9 a.m. games against Prairie and Yelm, losing both.
This year, the Royals are hoping to break the streak, having already scouted Kentwood, Gonzaga Prep and Skyview, the three teams on their side of the bracket.
“We feel good about it. We have tape on each of the teams,” Edwards said. “We’ll be coming into it prepared. Regardless of who we play after the Kentwood game, we feel good about our matchups. As long as we’re healthy we feel we can compete with any of the teams left in the tournament.”
Lynnwood isn’t the only local Wesco 4A team in the girls state tournament. After placing second at the 4A state tournament last season, Arlington is back at the Tacoma Dome for the second-straight year with the Eagles drawing Moses Lake at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Moses Lake is a team that is a bit of a mystery to Arlington and head coach Joe Marsh.
“I don’t really know anything about Moses Lake at all,” Marsh said. “Once you get that draw it’s the mad dash to get any film you can. That’s what we’ll do.”
The Eagles, ranked No. 8 by the AP, find themselves on a side of the bracket with Moses Lake, No. 5 Inglemoor and No. 6 Mt. Rainier.
However, Marsh is happy with the draw, grateful that the Eagles avoided a familiar Wesco foe.
“I’m happy Lynnwood’s on the other side of the bracket,” Marsh said. “You take your chances. You see Mt. Rainier there with best players in the state. I think it’s a tough bracket all the way through. Those semifinal games, there’s going to be four really good teams playing. We’re just going to focus on that first one and then deal with whoever we get on that second day.”
The draw was a familiar scene for the Jackson boys, who are going to Tacoma for the fifth straight year. The Timberwolves highest finish is second, which they achieved in 2010 and again last season.
If they’re going to get back to the title game this year, the No. 1-ranked Timberwolves are going to have to navigate a difficult side of the bracket that features No. 3 Garfield, No. 4 Kentridge and No. 10 Issaquah, which Jackson faces in its quarterfinal game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Issaquah is the only team to beat Garfield this season. The Timberwolves (23-1) also have only one loss all season.
“We’ve had a chance to see them play; we’ve played them in the summer,” said Jackson head coach Steve Johnson. “… I think we’ll know what’s going on. They’ll probably know us pretty well, too. They’re a good team, physical team. (Junior guard Ty) Gibson, in my opinion is their main motor. He kind of makes them go. They’ve got some good talent and some physical guys. It’s a good matchup no doubt.”
Jackson has preparing for this tournament all season, scheduling tough nonconference games against Lincoln in the King Holiday Hoopfest tournament at Bellevue College and the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. where the Timberwolves won the title after beating some of the top teams from all over the country.
“I’ve said all year long,” Johnson said, “with the expectations being so high – playing in the state championship last year and bringing so many of those guys back – we’re capable of beating anyone we play and we’re capable of getting beat if we don’t execute and play our best game.
The toughest draw of the day seemed to go to Stanwood, which is heading to Tacoma for the first time since 2010. After falling in the regional round last season, the Spartans took care of Foss to clinch a spot in the state quarterfinals at the Dome.
“It’s exciting,” said Stanwood head coach Zach Ward. “These boys were so close last year and to get over that hurdle, I think, was big.”
Stanwood, currently ranked No. 2 by the AP, was rewarded with a quarterfinal game against No. 3 Bellevue at 12:15 p.m.
“They’re tough,” Ward said. “You get to the round of eight and I think you can pick and choose anybody and say, ‘There’s a tough matchup for us.’ They’re all good.”
If the Spartans can get past the Wolverines, they will likely face Rainier Beach, ranked among the top five teams in the country in several national polls, in the semifinals.
Stanwood would love the opportunity to see where it matches up against the Vikings.
“Heck yeah. For sure!” Ward said. “… What better way to test where you’re actually at than if you get that opportunity.”