Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec (right), a Lynnwood High School alum, goes up for a shot during a game against Arizona on Jan. 10, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec (right), a Lynnwood High School alum, goes up for a shot during a game against Arizona on Jan. 10, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Snohomish County almost had a historic hoops moment

Local players were on the verge of being on both of the No. 1 college basketball teams in the country.

Man, we were ever so close to seeing a piece of Snohomish County sporting history.

We nearly had players on both top-ranked college basketball teams at the same time.

I spent Saturday mentally making all the preparations for writing an ode to the county reaching a college hoops pinnacle. King’s High School graduate and Edmonds native Corey Kispert is a member of the Gonzaga men’s team. Lynnwood High School alum Mikayla Pivec plays for the Oregon State women’s team. And they were about to intersect at No. 1 in the Associated Press polls.

But the rug was pulled out from under us at the last moment.

From the beginning of the college basketball season I had it in my head to keep an eye on the possibility of both the Gonzaga men and Oregon State women climbing in the polls, since we had local players along for the ride.

And these are no mere walk-ons or role players. Kispert, a junior, is the starting small forward for the Zags, leads Gonzaga in minutes and ranks second in scoring at 14.1 points per game. Plus he’s the player who does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score.

Meanwhile, Pivec, a senior shooting guard, is a legitimate star, leading the Beavers in scoring (15.3), rebounds (10.1) and assists (5.4). She’s well on her way to an All-American campaign as the best player on a top team.

As good as Kispert and Pivec may be, I never thought both their teams would reach No. 1. But I figured I’d better keep track just in case.

Lo and behold, that minuscule possibility became stark reality over the weekend.

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert (24), a King’s High School alum, drives to the basket during a game against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert (24), a King’s High School alum, drives to the basket during a game against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Gonzaga men already had reached the No. 1 spot. Top-ranked men’s teams dropped like flies in November and December, while the Bulldogs methodically inched up the poll. The Zags finally reached the top spot just before Christmas, and with Gonzaga now into West Coast Conference play — where the Zags will be favored in every game — I suspect the Bulldogs will remain No. 1 into the NCAA tournament.

But what about the Oregon State women? Sure, the Beavers were in the top-10 to start the season, but nobody thought OSU was the nation’s best team. Heck, the Beavers weren’t even the best team in their own state, as Oregon was the preseason No. 1. With perennial powers such as Connecticut and Baylor also ahead in the rankings, it was hard to imagine the Beavers leapfrogging the rest of the field.

But they nearly did. Oregon State won its first 14 games to rise to No. 3 and I started to believe it was actually possible.

Herald sports editor Kevin Brown and I began brainstorming. Was there ever the possibility of the county having players on both top-ranked teams in the past? The only county player we could come up with who might have been on a No. 1 team was Snohomish High School graduate Milena Flores, who played for the Stanford women from 1996-2000. Some internet sleuthing found the Cardinal spent five weeks at No. 1 at the start of the 1996-97 season. But none of the names on the Cincinnati or Kansas men’s team that were No. 1 during that stretch rang any bells.

We then went to look at OSU’s schedule to see when it played Oregon, thinking one win against the Ducks — now ranked No. 2 after a loss to Louisville in November — might be enough for the undefeated Beavers to vault to No. 1. We discovered that in a quirk of Pac-12 scheduling the Beavers and Ducks play each another twice in the same week (Jan. 24 and 26). Beating Oregon once seemed a possibility. Beating the Ducks twice in three days seemed a longshot.

Dang it!

But then the stars aligned. Connecticut, ranked No. 1, saw its 98-game home winning streak snapped by a 74-58 loss to No. 6 Baylor last Thursday. Then on Friday, top-ranked Oregon was stunned by a 72-68 loss at Arizona State. While the Ducks were losing to the Sun Devils, Pivec was busy making the game-winning shot as the Beavers topped No. 18 Arizona 63-61.

The Beavers were one win away from No. 1, and we were on the cusp of county history — and I was ecstatic to have the chance to write about it. I made plans to contact Kispert and Pivec to get their thoughts on the phenomenon. I began thinking about how I would structure the story, as well as when the best day to run it would be. (Thursday, of course, before either team played another game and had a chance to lose.)

But I was premature in my presumptions.

I was too busy dealing with the Seattle Seahawks playoff game Sunday to keep track of Oregon State’s game against Arizona State. So when I filed my first Seahawks story, Brown informed me the Beavers had lost. Those same pesky Sun Devils who upset Oregon decided to do the same thing to Oregon State, knocking off the Beavers 55-47.

Shoot! We were one win away from having Snohomish County men’s and women’s players rising to the top of the college basketball mountain simultaneously. But, alas, it wasn’t to be.

I can’t see it happening now. Oregon State dropped to No. 8 this week, and even if the Beavers win their way through the gauntlet of Pac-12 teams ahead of them — No. 3 Stanford, No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 UCLA — either No. 1 South Carolina or No. 4 Connecticut will receive a big boost when they play each other on Feb. 10, and it’s difficult to see another loss on the rest of No. 2 Baylor’s schedule.

Oh well, it was a good fantasy while it lasted. I guess the Gonzaga men and Oregon State women are just going to have to win national championships so we can have our moment of Snohomish County sports history.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Glacier Peak’s Zoe Ritter puts up a floater in the first quarter against Kamiak on Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023, at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Glacier Peak girls hold off Kamiak, clinch Wesco 4A title

Kylani Rookstool scores 21 points and the Grizzlies fend off a number of runs by the Knights to win 62-57.

Kamiak senior forward Josiah Pierre shoots and sinks a pair of free throws during a matchup against Snohomish on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kamiak’s Pierre ascends to one of area’s most prolific scorers

The senior combo forward is averaging 27.5 points per game on 60% shooting so far this season.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Jan. 23-29

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Jan. 23-29. Voting closes at… Continue reading

X
Prep roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 1

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 1: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

FILE - Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart brings the ball up against the Las Vegas Aces in Game 2 of a WNBA basketball playoff semifinal Aug. 31, 2022, in Las Vegas.Stewart is the biggest WNBA free agent on the market this offseason and the former MVP has a host of teams courting her, including the Storm, where she's spent her entire career. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Breanna Stewart leaving Storm for New York Liberty

The 28-year-old free agent and former WNBA MVP won two titles with Seattle, but announced she’s signing with New York.

The Arlington bench cheers on their team as they approach a victory over Stanwood on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Associated Press high school basketball polls for Feb. 1

How a state panel of sports writers rates Washington high school basketball… Continue reading

FILE - Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) runs with the ball during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Jan. 8, 2023, in Seattle. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey and Smith are the finalists for AP Comeback Player of the Year. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, File)
Seahawks position overview: Is Smith future at QB in Seattle?

The veteran had a breakout season in 2022, but is 32 years old and a pending free agent.

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2004, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl 38 in Houston. Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.  (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
Tom Brady retires at 45, insists it’s ‘for good’ this time

The former Patriots and Buccaneers quarterback won a record seven Super Bowls over a legendary 23-year career.

Jackson’s Sylas Williams (5) shoots the ball during a game between Lake Stevens and Jackson at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The Jackson Timberwolves won, 87-69. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Williams scores 42, Jackson boys overpower Lake Stevens

The Timberwolves clinch at least a share of the Wesco 4A title with 87-69 victory over the Vikings.

Most Read