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Parking problems plague state tournament at Tacoma Dome

TACOMA – The WIAA has renamed the boys and girls state basketball tournaments the Hardwood Classics.

At least in Tacoma, though, it should be called the Hard-to-Attend Classics.

Construction across the street from the Tacoma Dome, in the main west-end parking lot, means there are 1,000 fewer parking spots available for fans attending the 4A and 3A tournaments, beginning today. A car museum is being built.

WIAA officials said 500 spots would be available at other locations around the Tacoma Dome at $10 a pop.

It’s likely that WIAA officials attending the tournaments in Tacoma will get an earful from disgruntled fans – ranging from the parking issues to the controversial change in format.

Clear sailing

Teams and fans traveling east and west for state tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane found the freeway and the major pass dividing the state good for travel Wednesday.

Snoqualmie Pass was bare and wet by midafternoon, and should continue to be in good condition for those traveling today.

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None of the Greater Spokane League boys and girls teams is mentioned as favorites at the 4A and 3A tourneys.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the GSL won’t be well-represented. The GSL has a respectable track record of bringing home hardware, and that’s not likely to change this weekend.

In 4A boys, Garfield (22-3), which was ranked No. 1 all season, is clearly favored. After that, though, it’s a coin flip as to which team or teams might challenge.

Gonzaga Prep (20-3) isn’t going over to play for anything less than a title. In fact, of the other seven teams not named Garfield, all would seem to be in the hunt for the runner-up spot – if, in fact, Garfield is considered the team to lose the state title, as word on blogs suggest.

G-Prep has a difficult opener, though. The Bullpups face a Kentridge team (20-8) that is led by Gonzaga University’s most-prized signee – Gary Bell Jr., who has averaged 30 points per game.

Perhaps the division that could be the most tightly contested is 4A girls. Federal Way (24-2), which was ranked No. 1 most of the season, is considered the favorite – largely because it’s finally healthy. Many thought Federal Way should have won a state title in the last couple of years, but injuries have been its downfall.

All the teams but Lewis and Clark (17-6) have 20 wins or more.

Truth be told, all eight teams could capture the title.

“There’s not a weak team in the field,” LC coach Jim Redmon said.

He should know. His teams have been quite successful this decade, capturing three state titles. It would not surprise him if his team played for a title on Saturday.

In recent years, 3A boys have been considered arguably the toughest classification in state. That argument could be made again this year.

O’Dea (23-3) is considered the favorite, but there are five other teams with 21 wins or more that figure they’re in the hunt, too.

North Central (12-12) comes in with the worst record by far. But NC coach Jay Webber expects nothing less than for his team to challenge for a trophy.

In 3A girls, it’s obvious which teams are the favorites. There are two undefeated teams in the field – Holy Names (26-0) and Prairie (25-0).

If NC (17-8) can get past Auburn Mountainview (22-7) today, it would most likely face Holy Names in the semifinals.