Is it state or is it just a state of being?
Technically, it is state. When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association made radical changes to its state boys and girls basketball tournaments three years ago, they were shrunk from four-day events to three, plus one game at a regional site the weekend before.
So the 16-team fields remain but this weekend’s games from 4A to 1B will pare the fields to eight when the final three days of each tourney are concluded at Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane the following week.
Most of the fields are set. Teams like the Central Valley boys (21-2) and Gonzaga Prep girls (21-3), though, won’t know their opponents until after games today. And some berths are yet to be decided in 2A and 2B.
To get to Tacoma, CV and G-Prep must travel first to Puyallup this weekend.
The road to Tacoma for Mead’s girls (21-1) begins with a stop at Wenatchee.
The Greater Spokane League’s 3A state qualifiers remain close to home. More specifically for University’s boys (15-7) and girls (13-10), they get to play at home.
The girls in all classifications play Friday and the boys play Saturday.
In 4A, CV will play the loser of Bethel (17-9)-Todd Beamer (17-6) on Friday. Bethel and Todd Beamer play today.
G-Prep plays the loser of Yelm (19-4)-Union (18-7) on Saturday. Yelm and Union play today.
Mead takes on the loser of Bellarmine Prep (15-8)-Puyallup (20-4) on Saturday. Bellarmine Prep and Puyallup play today.
In 3A, the University girls take on Holy Names Academy (20-6) on Friday.
In a 3A doubleheader at U-Hi on Saturday, fourth-ranked Seattle Prep (19-7) goes against Shadle Park (13-10) and Enumclaw (15-10) takes on U-Hi.
For the G-Prep girls, their state opener will be their fourth elimination game in a row.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be the easy road to go, but the girls know they can do it,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said. “The girls have been playing with a chip on their shoulder, sort of an us-against-the-world thing. Now we’ve got to go all the way across the state and play one game and carry the same chip on our shoulder. It’s only going to make us better if we make the final eight.”
Mead’s girls built a 12-point lead against Chiawana on Friday only to watch it evaporate. The Panthers won in overtime.
“Our big thing now is finishing games and keeping the intensity up,” Mead coach Quantae Anderson said.
CV handled Richland earlier in the season, but the Bears struggled as they fell to the Bombers on the road Friday.
“They just beat us,” CV coach Rick Sloan said. “They came out with a lot of energy and had a nice home crowd. It’s a tough place to play. We couldn’t get any shots to fall and couldn’t get to the free-throw line. To Richland’s credit they played better than we did. It reminded me a little bit of our second game with (Gonzaga) Prep.”
After the U-Hi boys earned a state berth Friday against Shadle, U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips and assistant Ty Fowler drove to Tacoma on Saturday to scout the Titans’ first-round opponent.
As the coaches left to return to Spokane, they drove by the Tacoma Dome. Fowler used Phillips’ phone to take a picture from the freeway of the Tacoma Dome. Then Phillips sent a text message to his players telling them who their opponent is on Saturday, and he attached the picture of the Tacoma Dome.
“Brett (Bailey) texted me back and said, ‘that looks a little blurry. I’m going to have to see it in person.’”
Phillips believes that can be accomplished.
“I don’t know if we’re playing well but we’re competing at a high level,” Phillips said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet.”