Wrapping up state

MY COUCH – This past weekend was kind of a blur.

When you’re spending 15-hour days at the Tacoma Dome you’re lucky if you can remember your name by the time you get to bed. It’s chaotic, stressful, frantic, extensive and unbelievably loud.

And I haven’t stopped missing it since I left.

Maybe it was because there were so many local teams this year. Maybe it’s because I saw so many incredible games. Maybe it’s because by the end of the tournament I could not stop laughing because the WIAA didn’t have anybody under the age of 85 working at the T-Dome.

But, I think it’s more likely that I miss the Tacoma Dome because of the people who were just there.

There’s Terry Dawn, the Arlington senior who became the top scorer in Eagles’ history in his second-to-last quarter of high school basketball. You know you’re important when you inspire not one, but two people to make large cardboard cutouts of your face and wave them around a giant arena. (I imagine this is the pinnacle for athletes. It is for reporters, too. If somebody ever waved a giant David face in the stands I would retire on site because life’s not getting any better.)

There’s the PA Announcer, who also makes appearances at Lynnwood High School, who starts every game with a gravelly, intense “game time” that, once I stop laughing because I’m sleep deprived and delirious, gets me pumped every time.

There’s Jason Todd, whose performance in the 4A state title game was nothing short of legendary. And epic. It was lepic! (You know it’s impressive when you inspire someone who works with words for a living to have to make up a new one.) With one ankle that was swollen to at least twice its normal size, Todd helped orchestrate an incredible Jackson comeback that turned a game that seemed like it was decided in the third quarter into a nail-biter right up till the end.

There’s “Tall” Tom Lafferty from KRKO 1380 who for some reason thought it would be a good idea to put me on the radio.

There are the Boise State-bound Pahukoa sisters from Lake Stevens (also with big faces in the stands), who ended their high school career with their fourth straight state tournament appearance. Brittney hit a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime in a 4A semifinal game against Arlington and Brooke scored 34 in a quarterfinals win against Kentwood to help the Vikings get there.

There’s the Arlington band, who I can’t thank enough for mixing up the School Band Playlist with some “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. They even had the fur coats to go with it! If I had heard Lady Gaga, “All I Do is Win,” or “Don’t Stop Believing” one more time, there was going to be what my mother calls “a scene.”

There’s the Glacier Peak Grizzlies girls basketball team, which I spent the entire season trying to figure out. Nobody averaged more than 10 points a game. Allie Weathersby, who scored 19 in the final game of her high school career at Tacoma, led the team averaging 9.1 points. But Glacier Peak’s defense just got after people. And the Grizzlies kept winning games.

There’s the man at the pass gate who couldn’t find my name on the list because he thought my name was “Harold” after I said I worked for the “Herald.” He was also about 103. I didn’t see him move after the first day. He just sat in his chair. I hope he’s OK.

There’s the Mountlake Terrace boys, who, after getting a tough draw at last year’s state tournament and dropping their first game at the Dome this season, were able to rally to win two straight, including one against a tough Seattle Prep team to clinch fourth place. Senior Marquis Armstead had a hold of the fourth-place trophy with a look that said: I’m absolutely not letting go.

There were the students, parents and fans from all the local schools that came up and said hello. They talked basketball with us and helped make a couple cool videos. The students got to skip school to go on a road trip and watch amazing basketball. I think we know who the real winners of the weekend were.

There was the “interrupting milk man” who walked through not one, but two coach interviews in one afternoon. The man was carting around two cases of milk that were apparently so important I can only assume they were going to the new Pope.

There’s the Arlington girls, who along with Lake Stevens and the Arlington boys, gave huge credibility to my “the North is rising” theory. Led by some seniors (Lindsay Brown, Krista Showalter and Winter Brown) and even a freshman (Jayla Russ), the Eagles surprised people all season as they made their way to a second-place finish.

Finally, there’s the coaches leading the players. We have some remarkable coaches in our area, and I’m not just saying that because four of the six coaches for local teams at Tacoma were on The Herald podcast. And I’m not going to say that was what propelled the teams forward, although 100 percent of the coaches and players who visited the podcast (including Stanwood boys’ coach Zach Ward and Lynnwood’s Everett Edwards) made it to at least the regional round of the state tournament.

You can’t argue with math. Believe me, I’ve tried.

(On a side note, to book a spot on a future podcast email dkrueger@heraldnet.com and we’ll get you set up.)

Steve Johnson (Jackson), Joe Marsh (Arlington), Brian Hill (Glacier Peak), Nalin Sood (Mountlake Terrace), Nick Brown (Arlington) and Randall Edens (Lake Stevens) are six of the most high quality men I’ve ever met. I’m sincerely jealous I don’t get to play basketball for them. I assume they’re all thankful that I can’t play basketball for them.

Now that basketball’s over it’s time for a vacation. I’m headed to Orlando for my cousin’s wedding. Ben, and my future cousin-in-law Kelcey, are getting married and I will be sitting poolside working on my tan because I heard there are alligators everywhere and I don’t feel like I could handle that particular situation.

But while I’m recharging my internal battery – and looking up because when I do I will finally see THE SKY again – and celebrating with friends and family I’ll definitely be telling anybody who cares (and several who don’t) about the 2013 Washington State 3A and 4A state championships.

While eagerly looking forward to the next one.

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