Paisley Johnson of BYU directs her teammates. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

Paisley Johnson of BYU directs her teammates. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

Could an all-local women’s starting 5 make NCAA tournament?

Columnist Nick Patterson makes the case for a team of area players starring for their respective schools.

The finish line of the women’s college basketball regular season is in sight, and the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee no doubt is up to its eyeballs in NETs, strength of schedules and margins of victory as it prepares for the task of selecting and seeding the 64 teams for the NCAA tournament, which begins March 22.

But as the committee members sift through the data, let me suggest a tournament candidate that no doubt slipped under their radar: Snohomish County University.

OK, so there’s no such thing as Snohomish County University, but hear me out on this. The county has produced its fair share of quality NCAA Division I women’s basketball players in recent years, and it’s my belief that if we put together a team of current college players produced by Snohomish County high schools, that team would be good enough to get into the NCAA tournament.

Is that really the case? Well, here’s my argument. Presenting the Snohomish County University women’s basketball team:

STARTING BACKCOURT

Lynnwood High School graduate Mikayla Pivec is a starting guard for the 12th-ranked Oregon State women’s basketball team. (Scobel Wiggins photo)

Lynnwood High School graduate Mikayla Pivec is a starting guard for the 12th-ranked Oregon State women’s basketball team. (Scobel Wiggins photo)

Mikayla Pivec

College: Oregon State

Height: 5-foot-10

Year: Junior

Position: Guard

High School: Lynnwood

Key stats: 14.0 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game


Sidney Rielly, a graduate of Everett High School, is the leading scorer on the Portland State women’s basketball team. (Scott Larson photo)

Sidney Rielly, a graduate of Everett High School, is the leading scorer on the Portland State women’s basketball team. (Scott Larson photo)

Sidney Rielly

College: Portland State

Height: 6-foot

Year: Senior

Position: Guard

High School: Everett

Key stats: 15.7 points per game, 48.0 percent field-goal percentage, 2.1 3-pointers per game

Paisley Johnson

College: BYU

Height: 5-foot-9

Year: Sophomore

Position: Guard

High School: Glacier Peak

Key stats: 14.3 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 1.3 steals per game

The lowdown: Pivec is my point guard. Yes, I know she doesn’t play the point for the Beavers, but she did last season and averaged 5.0 assists per game. So she’s who I want as my floor general. And as one of the best players on a top-10 team, she’s the ideal foundation for the Snohomish County team.

Rielly and Johnson bring versatility to the backcourt. Rielly is a pure scorer who can both slash to the basket and bomb from deep. She’s the leading scorer on a Vikings team battling for the Big Sky Conference crown, and as a two-time third-team all-conference selection she has the credentials.

Johnson brings a high degree of scrappiness to the perimeter, and she’s the second-leading scorer on a Cougars team that breached the top 25 a couple weeks back.

Three players who are top options for teams that are probably NCAA tournament worthy. This is unquestionably a tournament-caliber backcourt.

STARTING FRONTCOURT

Kayla Watkins, a graduate of Glacier Peak High School, is averaging 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for Weber State this season. (Robert Casey photo)

Kayla Watkins, a graduate of Glacier Peak High School, is averaging 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for Weber State this season. (Robert Casey photo)

Kayla Watkins

College: Weber State

Height: 6-foot-2

Year: Sophomore

Position: Forward

High School: Glacier Peak

Key stats: 12.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game


Snohomish High School graduate Madison Pollock averages 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the University of San Diego. (Anna Scipione/University of San Diego Athletics)

Snohomish High School graduate Madison Pollock averages 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the University of San Diego. (Anna Scipione/University of San Diego Athletics)

Madison Pollock

College: San Diego

Height: 6-foot-1

Year: Junior

Position: Forward

High School: Snohomish

Key stats: 10.9 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game

The lowdown: Watkins and Pollock give the team two bigger players who can bang down low and provide rebounding. Watkins’ added ability to step out and make a 3-point shot helps space the floor on offense.

One can ask whether two players from mid-major schools that aren’t having particularly good seasons are truly good enough for an NCAA tournament team. However, Watkins and Pollock have been among the top two options on offense for the Wildcats and Toreros, respectively.

Imagine how valuable they’d be as options four and five for the Snohomish County team.

BENCH

Glacier Peak graduate Samantha Fatkin is a guard on the University of Montana women’s basketball team. (University of Montana photo)

Glacier Peak graduate Samantha Fatkin is a guard on the University of Montana women’s basketball team. (University of Montana photo)

Sammy Fatkin

College: Montana

Height: 5-foot-11

Year: Sophomore

Position: Guard

High School: Glacier Peak

Key stats: 8.1 points per game, 2.2 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game

Missy Peterson has started 20 games for the University of Washington women’s basketball team this season. (Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Missy Peterson has started 20 games for the University of Washington women’s basketball team this season. (Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Missy Peterson

College: Washington

Height: 5-foot-11

Year: Sophomore

Position: Guard

High School: Edmonds-Woodway

Key stats: 9.0 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game

Madeline Smith, a graduate of Snohomish High School, averages 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Montana State women’s basketball team.

Madeline Smith, a graduate of Snohomish High School, averages 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Montana State women’s basketball team.

Madeline Smith

College: Montana State

Height: 6-foot-2

Year: Junior

Position: Forward

High School: Snohomish

Key Stats: 8.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game

The lowdown: Three players who are starters for their teams make for a strong bench for the Snohomish County squad. Fatkin is pure point guard, which is valuable for times when we want to get Pivec off the ball, and since being put into the Grizzlies’ starting lineup Fatkin is averaging 11.9 points and draining 2.0 3-point field goals per game. Peterson is a starter for the Huskies, and while Washington may not be the best Pac-12 team, she’s still good enough to start in a Power Five conference. Smith, who splits time in the starting lineup for the Bobcats, gives the team a good three-player frontcourt rotation.

The best thing about this bench is that it provides perfect balance, with a player available to fill every role.

The crazy thing about this team is that it doesn’t even include the Snohomish County natives who are sitting out this season.

Kylee Griffen from Lake Stevens is redshirting during her first season at Gonzaga because of a shoulder injury sustained before the season started. As a top-100 recruit nationally, and as a 6-foot-2 player with ball skills, she’s probably a starter on this team if she’s available.

Jordyn Edwards, Pivec’s high school teammate at Lynnwood, is sitting out after transferring from Colorado State to San Diego, and as a true point guard she’d give the team another ball handler. If nothing else, these two provide quality competition in practice.

In conclusion, I ask the selection committee to at least give Snohomish County University a look. I believe it would be a team worthy of NCAA tournament consideration.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

What do you think?

Are there any other players who you believe deserve consideration for the Snohomish County University women’s basketball team? If so, email Nick Patterson at npatterson@heraldnet.com.

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