Glacier Peak’s Aaliyah Collins (center) attempts a shot during the Grizzlies’ win over Peninsula on Dec. 27 in the Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament. The Glacier Peak girls are unbeaten in Wesco 4A and own the most impressive resume of any local prep basketball team. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Aaliyah Collins (center) attempts a shot during the Grizzlies’ win over Peninsula on Dec. 27 in the Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament. The Glacier Peak girls are unbeaten in Wesco 4A and own the most impressive resume of any local prep basketball team. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Prep basketball midseason recap: Postseason races heating up

The GP girls, Jackson boys and MP boys are on top, while the Wesco 3A girls race is wide open.

With local prep basketball teams just past the midway point of conference play, here’s a look at the season so far and where things stand as races for league titles and postseason positioning heat up.

Note: All rankings refer to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s RPI rankings as of noon Friday.

Wesco 4A girls: Glacier Peak in the driver’s seat

The Grizzlies own the most impressive resume of any local team.

Glacier Peak (13-1 overall, 8-0 Wesco 4A) has four victories over Class 4A or 3A top-12 squads, including a win over 4A third-ranked Lewis and Clark in the title game of the talent-laden Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament. The fifth-ranked Grizzlies’ only loss was to 3A second-ranked Prairie.

Glacier Peak, which thrives on a swarming, high-pressure defense that allows just 35.6 points per game, is unbeaten in Wesco 4A play.

The Grizzlies hold a one-game lead in the conference standings over second-place Lake Stevens, which lost to Glacier Peak by 18 points last month. The two teams square off again Tuesday at Lake Stevens in a matchup with massive conference-title implications.

Glacier Peak and Lake Stevens (8-6, 7-1) are closing in on the top two seeds in Wesco 4A after the Vikings’ rout of Jackson on Tuesday, which gave them a two-game lead over the third-place Timberwolves (10-4, 5-3). That’s significant because the top two seeds receive first-round byes in the 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament and avoid the loser-out play-in round.

Wesco 4A boys: Jackson, Glacier Peak hold the cards

Christian Liddell (left) and Jackson fended off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Glacier Peak to beat the Grizzlies on Jan. 4. The Wesco 4A rivals square off again later this month in a matchup that could decide the conference title. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Christian Liddell (left) and Jackson fended off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Glacier Peak to beat the Grizzlies on Jan. 4. The Wesco 4A rivals square off again later this month in a matchup that could decide the conference title. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Timberwolves and Grizzlies are well on their way to earning the top two seeds in Wesco 4A and first-round byes in the Wes-King Bi-District Tournament.

Jackson (11-3 overall, 8-0 Wesco 4A) sits atop the conference standings, one game ahead of second-place Glacier Peak (9-5, 7-1). Mariner and Mount Vernon are tied for third in Wesco 4A, trailing the Grizzlies by two games.

The eighth-ranked Timberwolves won a wild first matchup against Glacier Peak earlier this month, taking a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter before fending off a furious comeback by the two-time defending Wesco 4A champions and prevailing for a four-point victory.

The teams square off again Jan. 30 at Glacier Peak in a game that could decide the conference title.

Wesco 3A girls: League-title race is wide-open

Archbishop Murphy and Arlington are part of a tightly contested four-team race for the Wesco 3A title. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy and Arlington are part of a tightly contested four-team race for the Wesco 3A title. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

No local league is more intriguing right now than the Wesco 3A girls, where it’s shaping up to be a four-team race for the conference title.

Snohomish, Arlington, Shorecrest and Archbishop Murphy enter Friday night atop the league standings with one conference loss apiece. Those four teams are each 1-1 thus far in matchups against one another, while going a combined 27-0 against the rest of the 15-team league.

There are still two matchups remaining between the Wesco 3A-leading teams: 3A fifth-ranked Shorecrest at 2A fourth-ranked Archbishop Murphy on Tuesday, and 3A 12th-ranked Snohomish at 3A eighth-ranked Arlington on Feb. 1. Both games could go a long way to determining which team claims the league crown.

And while those four teams atop Wesco 3A garner the league’s spotlight, there’s a massive logjam in the middle of the standings that could lead to some fascinating battles for postseason berths and first-round byes. Entering Friday night, teams Nos. 5-10 in the conference standings were all within 1.5 games of one another.

This season, the Northwest District is using its own RPI system to seed teams for the 3A district tournament. The top 10 teams earn district tournament berths, with the top six receiving first-round byes and avoiding the loser-out play-in games.

Also, keep in mind that Archbishop Murphy competes at the 2A level for the postseason. The Wildcats are in the midst of another strong season, despite graduating four of their top six scorers from last year’s 2A state runner-up squad.

Wesco 3A boys: Marysville Pilchuck in control

University of Washington-bound RaeQuan has led first-place Marysville Pilchuck to 11 straight wins and a perfect record in Wesco 3A play. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

University of Washington-bound RaeQuan has led first-place Marysville Pilchuck to 11 straight wins and a perfect record in Wesco 3A play. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Led by University of Washington-bound RaeQuan Battle, the Tomahawks are unbeaten in Wesco 3A play and hold a two-game lead atop the conference standings.

With an array of highlight-reel dunks and pinpoint long-distance shooting, Battle averages nearly 25 points per game and has led fifth-ranked Marysville Pilchuck (12-3 overall, 9-0 Wesco 3A) to 11 straight wins.

Battle’s most impressive performance came in a two-point win over Edmonds-Woodway last month, when the 6-foot-5 senior scored a school-record 43 points, grabbed 23 rebounds, blocked five shots and drove for the game-winning layup as time expired to cap a 13-point fourth-quarter comeback.

The Tomahawks still have league contests remaining against Arlington and 10th-ranked Stanwood, who are tied for second in Wesco 3A with 7-2 conference records.

Similar to the Wesco 3A girls, the races for postseason spots and first-round byes are also tightly contested on the boys side, with teams Nos. 4-10 in the conference standings all within one game of one another.

Mountlake Terrace (10-3, 5-3) is tied for fourth in Wesco 3A, but competes at the 2A level for the postseason. The Hawks are ninth in the state’s 2A RPI rankings.

North Sound Conference: King’s teams are dominating

New league, same dominance.

After numerous league titles in the since-disbanded Cascade Conference, the King’s boys and girls teams are rolling through the first-year North Sound Conference. Both teams are unbeaten in league play with massive margins of victory.

The ninth-ranked King’s girls (12-4 overall, 6-0 North Sound Conference), who won a holiday tournament in Southern California, have outscored league opponents by 42.5 points per game.

The King’s boys (12-4, 6-0), who have routed conference opponents by an average of 46 points per contest, are well on their way to reclaiming the league throne after South Whidbey ended the Knights’ run of Cascade Conference titles last season.

Other notable local teams

Alex Coleman (left) and Lakewood are sitting at fourth place in the 14-team Northwest Conference. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Alex Coleman (left) and Lakewood are sitting at fourth place in the 14-team Northwest Conference. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Lakewood boys (12-4 overall, 7-2 Northwest Conference) are sitting at fourth place in their 14-team league and sixth in the state’s 2A RPI rankings. Two of the Cougars’ four remaining regular-season games are against unbeaten powerhouses Lynden and Lynden Christian.

The fifth-ranked Tulalip Heritage boys (14-2 overall, 12-1 Northwest 1B League) are tied atop their conference standings with Lummi Nation, which split the regular-season series with the Hawks. Cedar Park Christian-Mountlake Terrace (14-3, 10-3) is third in the Northwest 1B League and ninth in the 1B RPI rankings.

The 10th-ranked Grace Academy girls (9-3 overall, 7-0 Northwest 1B League) are on the verge of clinching their conference’s title.

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