Tijan Saine and Mariner are among the three local boys basketball teams that are headed to their respective Hardwood Classics. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Tijan Saine and Mariner are among the three local boys basketball teams that are headed to their respective Hardwood Classics. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hardwood Classic preview: A look at the boys state tourneys

Mariner, Mountlake Terrace and Lakewood are headed to their respective state tournaments.

Below are previews of the Hardwood Classic boys basketball tournaments that involve local teams.

The state tournaments began last week with play-in games in Class 3A and state regional games in all classifications. In each classification, the 16-team state regional round determined which 12 teams advanced to the Hardwood Classic — including which four teams earned first-round byes into the state quarterfinals.

The 12-team Hardwood Classics begin with Wednesday’s first-round loser-out games. The winners of those contests advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals. The tournaments then take on a modified double-elimination format from there, with one loss eliminating a team from state title contention and two losses eliminating a team from the tournament. The top six finishers in each classification earn state trophies.

The number next to each team refers to its state tournament seeding.

CLASS 4A

Naser Motley and Mariner are making their program’s first Hardwood Classic appearance since 2009. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Naser Motley and Mariner are making their program’s first Hardwood Classic appearance since 2009. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Where: Tacoma Dome

Wednesday’s first-round games

No. 6 Mariner vs. No. 11 Olympia, 3:45 p.m.

No. 7 Davis vs. No. 15 Graham-Kapowsin, 5:30 p.m.

No. 4 Kamiakin vs. No. 12 Central Valley, 7:15 p.m.

No. 8 Gonzaga Prep vs. No. 9 Federal Way, 9 p.m.

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 5 Tahoma vs. Mariner-Olympia winner, 3:45 p.m.

No. 1 Mount Si vs. Davis-Graham-Kapowsin winner, 5:30 p.m.

No. 3 Union vs. Kamiakin-Central Valley winner, 7:15 p.m.

No. 2 Curtis vs. Gonzaga Prep-Federal Way winner, 9 p.m.

FAVORITE

No. 1 Mount Si. After reaching each of the past two 4A state championship games and winning the state title in 2020, the defending champion Wildcats (23-0) have been nearly untouchable this season. With a lethal mix of length, athleticism and pinpoint shooting, Mount Si piles up 76.1 points per game and has outscored opponents by an average 27.5 points, winning all but one contest by double digits. The Wildcats shoot a scorching 44% from 3-point range and have four double-digit scorers in 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Trevor Hennig, 6-foot-9 junior forward Miles Heide, 6-foot-7 UC San Diego-bound senior Quin Patterson and four-year starting point guard Bennett O’Connor. Hennig shoots an absurd 53% from 3-point range, Heide averages a double-double and O’Connor dishes a whopping 7.3 assists per contest.

LOCAL TEAM

No. 6 Mariner. The Marauders’ once-struggling program continued its resurgence this season, earning its first league title since 2002-03 and its first Hardwood Classic trip since 2009. Mariner (16-9) started the season 6-6 while facing a tough non-league slate and dealing with COVID-19-related challenges. But the Marauders have won 10 of their past 13 games en route to the Wesco 4A title and their second state berth in the past three full-length seasons. Mariner averages 66.6 points per game behind a deep and balanced attack. Senior guard Naser Motley averages 18 points per game, senior point guard Tijan Saine adds 17 points and seven assists per contest, and 6-foot-5 senior Dakota Joseph is a force inside with 15 points and eight rebounds per game. The Marauders are coming off a 56-46 state regional loss to No. 3 Union.

BRACKET NOTES

— If Mariner were to beat No. 11 Olympia and No. 5 Tahoma in the first two rounds, heavy title favorite Mount Si would likely be waiting in the state semifinals. Mount Si faced another Wesco 4A team — Glacier Peak — in the semifinals during its 2020 state championship run.

CLASS 3A

Jeffrey Anyimah and Mountlake Terrace have won 17 of their past 18 games, including a dramatic comeback victory in the state regionals. (Kevin Clark / The Herald )

Jeffrey Anyimah and Mountlake Terrace have won 17 of their past 18 games, including a dramatic comeback victory in the state regionals. (Kevin Clark / The Herald )

Where: Tacoma Dome

Wednesday’s first-round games

No. 3 O’Dea vs. No. 14 Eastside Catholic, 9 a.m.

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Kennewick, 10:30 a.m.

No. 4 Rainier Beach vs. No. 12 Ferris, 12:15 p.m.

No. 8 Timberline vs. No. 9 Mountlake Terrace, 2 p.m.

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 5 Seattle Prep vs. O’Dea-Eastside Catholic winner, 9 a.m.

No. 1 Garfield vs. Auburn-Kennewick winner, 10:30 a.m.

No. 6 Gig Harbor vs. Rainier Beach-Ferris winner, 12:15 p.m.

No. 7 Mt. Spokane vs. Timberline-Mountlake Terrace winner, 2 p.m.

FAVORITE

No. 1 Garfield. The perennial powerhouse Bulldogs (22-0) have won four state titles in the past seven full-length seasons, including 3A state crowns in 2018 and 2020. And with another star-studded team, the defending state champions are heavy favorites to repeat. Garfield averages 83.1 points per game and has outscored opponents by an average of 31.7 points, winning all but three contests by double digits. And the Bulldogs are 10-0 against 4A and 3A Hardwood Classic teams, with an average victory margin of 21.8 points in those games. Garfield is highlighted by a pair of four-star recruits in 6-foot-7 junior guard Jaylin Stewart and University of Washington-bound senior guard Koren Johnson. Stewart is the No. 79 junior recruit in the nation and Johnson is the No. 97 senior recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports.

LOCAL TEAM

No. 9 Mountlake Terrace. The Hawks (18-2) kept their season alive and advanced to the Tacoma Dome with a dramatic 67-65 comeback win over No. 16 Kelso in the state regionals. Mountlake Terrace rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit, forced overtime on a buzzer-beating layup by sophomore forward Zaveon Jones and then prevailed in the extra period to earn its fourth Hardwood Classic appearance in the past five full-length seasons — and its first at the 3A level since 2013. The Hawks have won 17 of their past 18 games, including their first district title in a decade. They’ve once again leaned on their stingy defense, allowing just 50 points per game. And on the offensive side, standout senior guard Jeffrey Anyimah averages 14.4 points per game and Jones adds 13.6 per contest.

BRACKET NOTES

— The powerhouse Metro League has won each of the past nine 3A state titles. And with defending champion Garfield a heavy favorite to repeat, the juggernaut Seattle-area league could very well make it 10 in a row. Five of the 12 teams in the field are from the Metro League, including four of the top five seeds.

— No. 7 Mt. Spokane shook up the bracket by upsetting No. 2 Auburn in the state regional round. Auburn entered the state regionals at 23-1, with its only loss being a nine-point early-season defeat to Garfield. Because of Auburn’s state regional loss, Garfield and Auburn will likely meet again in a state quarterfinal showdown between the tournament’s top two seeds.

CLASS 2A

After making their program’s first-ever Hardwood Classic trip in 2020, Blake Conyers and Lakewood are headed to Yakima for the second consecutive postseason. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

After making their program’s first-ever Hardwood Classic trip in 2020, Blake Conyers and Lakewood are headed to Yakima for the second consecutive postseason. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Where: Yakima Valley SunDome

Wednesday’s first-round games

No. 6 White River vs. No. 14 Prosser, 3:45 p.m.

No. 7 Port Angeles vs. No. 10 Franklin Pierce, 5:30 p.m.

No. 5 Tumwater vs. No. 12 Grandview, 7:15 p.m.

No. 8 Sehome vs. No. 9 Lakewood, 9 p.m.

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 4 Pullman vs. White River-Prosser winner, 3:45 p.m.

No. 1 North Kitsap vs. Port Angeles-Franklin Pierce winner, 5:30 p.m.

No. 3 R.A. Long vs. Tumwater-Grandview winner, 7:15 p.m.

No. 2 Lynden vs. Sehome-Lakewood winner, 9 p.m.

FAVORITES

No. 1 North Kitsap. The defending 2A state champion Vikings (22-3) light up the scoreboard with 81 points per game and have outscored opponents by an average of 30.1 points. They’ve compiled a 6-3 record against 4A, 3A and 2A state tournament teams, including double-digit wins over 3A state qualifiers Timberline and Kelso. North Kitsap is led by 6-foot-5 senior guard Jonas La Tour. The Seattle Pacific commit averages 27 points and 10 rebounds per game and broke a school record with a 57-point performance earlier this season. Sophomore guard Cade Orness adds 15 points and seven assists per game for the Vikings, who have five scorers averaging in double figures.

No. 2 Lynden. The perennial powerhouse Lions (20-2) are once again in the state title mix. Lynden’s 10-time state championship program has earned eight top-three trophies in the past nine 2A state tournaments, including state titles in 2012, 2018 and 2019. This year’s group is an impressive 7-1 against 4A, 3A and 2A state tournament teams, including a double-digit win over 4A state qualifier Mariner and a 30-point rout of 3A state qualifier Arlington. The Lions average 67.4 points per game and feature a stingy defense that yields just 47 points per contest. They’re led by sophomore wing Anthony Canales and senior wing Jordan Medcalf, who both average 17-plus points and seven-plus rebounds per game.

LOCAL TEAM

No. 9 Lakewood. After breaking through in 2020 for their program’s first-ever state berth and Hardwood Classic appearance, the Cougars (15-6) are headed back to Yakima for the second time in as many postseasons. Lakewood punched its ticket to the Hardwood Classic with a 61-53 state regional victory over No. 16 Sammamish, which marked the Cougars’ third consecutive loser-out game triumph. Lakewood has won 10 of its past 12 games, with its only losses over that stretch being to 2A No. 2 Lynden. Senior Justice Taylor, a Central Washington football signee, leads the way with around 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. Blake Conyers, a senior, adds around 18 points and seven rebounds per contest. And senior forward Andrew Malloy is a force in the paint who hovers around the double-digit rebound mark.

BRACKET NOTES

— If Lakewood is to make a run, it will have to get past a pair of Northwest Conference rivals. The Cougars face No. 8 Sehome in the first round. And with an opening-round win, they would advance to face No. 2 Lynden in the state quarterfinals. Lakewood hasn’t played Sehome yet this season, due to their regular-season matchup being canceled. The Cougars lost both their matchups against Lynden, falling 61-51 in the regular season and 57-41 in the district semifinals.

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