Greater Spokane League coaches knew that their status as No. 3 seeds from the eastern region would do them no favors during Sunday’s State 4A basketball draw.
But the respect accorded Lewis and Clark’s three-time state champion girls must have counted for something.
The Tigers (25-2) got as good a pairing as could be expected, even if coach Jim Redmon was not enamored of Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. time.
“I’m not real happy about the 8:30 at night thing,” Redmon said. “It typically turns into 9:30 or 10, especially on picture day. But it could be a lot worse.”
LC, making its seventh straight appearance at the Tacoma Dome, plays unranked Federal Way (21-5) from the South Puget Sound League.
Gonzaga Prep (23-3), meanwhile, draws last year’s state semifinalist Decatur (21-4) in the boys tournament in a 7 p.m. game. Decatur has been ranked among the state’s top four much of this season.
“The time is fine,” Bullpups coach Mike Haugen said. “And whoever comes out of that side of the bracket will have played some tough ball games. But we’re very excited to play whomever.”
It’s a tough half bracket for both GSL schools. LC, ranked No. 1 most of the year, and the No. 2 and 3 teams, Kentwood (24-1) and east regional champion Pasco (25-0), are all there.
Those teams would play on day two, while the Tigers, if they keep winning, wouldn’t face either until the semifinals. Their second foe will be either Wesco champion Jackson (20-4) or Issaquah (17-6).
Federal Way has six players averaging 8.0 points per game or more, led by Tyshana Burgess (14.9), Brittany Barrington (11.2) and Jacquie Evenson (10.2).
“There were a lot of No. 1s we could have played,” Redmon said. “I think we were able to stay away from the heavy hitters, at least on the first go. They don’t call it a draw anymore. Three or four teams could have gone any way, the rest is dictated by the rules.”
Redmon said he feels fortunate to be playing at state for the seventh year in a row after losing two of three games at the end of the season and being forced to win three straight games over the weekend in Kennewick.
“We’ve had an unbelievable run,” he said. “Look at all the Division I kids we’ve had and this group is no different. We have two. And I think we have some future D-I kids on it. I’m proud of the returners and the majority of the youngsters all were required to put in some serious minutes during regional. They met the challenge.”
Gonzaga Prep’s side of the bracket includes the sixth place state finishing Gators, but also four other ranked teams including themselves at No. 6. No. 2 Eisenhower (25-1), No. 3 Garfield (20-3) and No 5 returning state qualifier Foss (20-5) are the others.
The Bullpups’ second-day foe will be either Garfield or Lake Stevens. Coached by Mark Hein, formerly at University, Lake Stevens is making its first state appearance since 1982, when it was 3A.
Haugen has ties to Decatur, which returns scoring leader Marcus Tibbs (16.5 ppg), Jerron Smith (15.8), Jordan McCloud (13.3) and Cam Schilling.
“My college roommate’s nephew (Schilling) starts for them,” Haugen said. “From what I gather they run a lot of set stuff. I watched them play last year at the state tournament and they are not a frantic type of team.”
Over the weekend, he said, the Bullpups did a better job of running its offense through its big men.
“We’ll just follow that course over there (Tacoma),” he said. “I feel good where we’re at and what our chances are.”