Come Thursday, east Spokane County will be down a few residents.
That will be largely because the Central Valley School District is sending four teams to the 4A and 3A state boys and girls basketball tournaments in Tacoma.
And the Valley Christian boys and Freeman girls also are off to state.
“I think the Spokane Valley will have a good showing at state,” University boys coach Garrick Phillips said.
The “we” Phillips was alluding to, of course, is his team, the U-Hi girls and the Central Valley boys and girls.
Phillips and U-Hi girls coach Mark Stinson drove to Renton on Sunday for the state tournament draws. CV boys coach Rick Sloan also made the trek.
The draws were different than past state tourney draws. First, they were drawing for eight-team, three-day tourneys as opposed to the old format – 16-team, four-day events.
And all the teams in each classification were considered No. 1 seeds. Two teams advanced to state from each of four regionals held last weekend in all divisions, and the most important criteria was separating teams from each regional.
That meant, for example, that the CV and Gonzaga Prep girls were placed on opposite sides of the bracket. That also means there’s a possibility that the Greater Spokane League rivals could end up facing each other in a state-title showdown on Saturday evening.
It will be a long first day for the CV faithful. The Bears girls open Thursday morning at 9 against Eastlake and the Bears boys cap the night off against traditional state qualifier Garfield of Seattle at 9.
In between, the U-Hi boys take on Lake Washington at 10:30 a.m., the G-Prep girls are featured in the lunch-time special against Woodinville at 12:15 and the U-Hi girls will be playing in the 3A nightcap at 9 – opposite the CV boys.
Phillips and Stinson were sitting in a parking lot of an auto parts store near Renton, waiting to exchange video with a friend of Phillips, when a reporter called.
The scaled-back tourney format hit home with Stinson.
“When you had 16 teams, sometimes one side of the bracket would look tougher than the other,” Stinson said. “Now it’s not like you get an easy game at all.”
The 2A and 1A boys and girls tourneys are at the Yakima SunDome while the 2B and 1B boys and girls are at the Spokane Arena.
The Valley Christian boys drew a tough opener. They will take on defending 1B state champ Sunnyside Christian in the first morning game at 9.
Another interesting matchup is in the 2B boys where two of the more talented teams, Lake Roosevelt and Northwest Christian, face off in the final game at 9.