Greater Spokane League secretary Herb Rotchford reports that more GSL 4A and 3A boys and girls basketball teams will have opportunities to earn state berths this year.
First, however, a little background.
After the WIAA made a major overhaul of the state tournaments for all classifications last year, instituting state play over two weekends beginning at regional sites, there was an outcry that alterations were needed. Many thought it was ridiculous that a team could lose and still earn a berth to the final state sites.
So the WIAA went back to the drawing board last spring. Chief perhaps among the tweaks is no longer will the games at regional sites be considered part of the state tournaments. Regional games will now be a winner-to-state, loser-out format.
And, where it’s possible, the WIAA hopes to have boys and girls teams from the same school play at the same site.
Closer to home, 3A GSL officials brokered a deal with the Columbia Basin Big Nine that puts the GSL’s top seed at risk to give the runner-up a chance at advancing to regionals. That’s the GSL’s strategy – get the best teams to state regardless of seed or league affiliation.
The CBBN’s district champ is protected and advances to regionals. The GSL’s district champ will play host to the CBBN’s No. 3 seed and the GSL’s runner-up will travel to the CBBN runner-up in play-in games the Tuesday before regionals.
The play-in winners will turn around and play for a state berth at regionals. So if the GSL teams won the play-in games they would essentially face off in a rematch of the district final.
The CBBN top seed will face the District 3/4 No. 6 seed at regionals. The 3A regional will be held at Richland High School with the boys on Feb. 24 and the girls on Feb. 25.
In 4A, three GSL teams will be in the mix for state berths.
The CBBN and GSL district winners advance to regionals. The CBBN No. 3 goes to GSL No. 2 and GSL No. 3 goes to CBBN No. 2 in play-in games the Tuesday before regionals.
This year it will be an all-Eastern regional. Last year West Side teams were involved.
At regionals, the GSL top seed will play the CBBN No. 2/GSL No. 3 play-in qualifier and the CBBN top seed will go against the GSL No. 2/CBBN No. 3 qualifier. The 4A regional will be at Spokane Falls Community College with the boys on Feb. 24 and the girls on Feb. 25.
The two teams to advance from each regional in all classifications will make up the eight-team state fields. The WIAA will seed the final eight teams in draws on Sunday, the day after the regionals conclude.
I watched the University boys play their season opener last Saturday.
I know it’s early, but the Titans appear to have all the ingredients to challenge for a trip to Tacoma. They have sharpshooters from 3-point range, and coach Garrick Phillips wants them to shoot early and often.
They also have players who can score inside, a deep bench and a solid defense.
I also saw the Shadle Park boys play in their season opener. Washington State University-bound Brett Boese is back after he missed all but three games with a broken foot last year. His Highlanders will challenge U-Hi for the league title and the top 3A district berths.
GSL boys and girls basketball will be nothing short of entertaining this winter. Check it out.