Three things to watch in the Class 4A and 3A boys and girls basketball tournaments:
Many believe the four teams that make up the top of the bracket — Garfield vs. Kentridge, Jackson vs. Issaquah — are the best in the state. Issaquah is the lone team that hasn’t been ranked in the top three this season, and the Eagles gave Garfield its lone loss.
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Looking for a first
Beamer, which was established as a school in 2003, will attempt to win its first ever game at the state tournament. The Titans, who will face Gonzaga Prep, have only made it to the quarterfinals one other time, losing twice.
Richland, the lone undefeated team in 4A, faces unranked Wenatchee in the quarterfinals and would play Beamer or Gonzaga Prep in the semifinals if it were to win. The Bombers have faced two teams this season that appeared in the top 10.
Chance at redemption
Kentwood upset Lynnwood (then No. 3) in the regional round last year in double overtime, and the two meet again to get this year’s state tourney started at 9 a.m. Naturally, the Conquerors used another upset, over No. 7 Chiawana, to get here.
Mount Rainier owes Inglemoor one. And vice-versa. The two 4A powers will meet for the third time over the past 12 months. Mount Rainier beat Inglemoor 61-56 in last year’s state quarterfinals. In a rematch on Martin Luther King Day, Inglemoor won 68-53 – the Rams’ last loss.
In the loaded upper half of the bracket, which includes three top-five teams, No. 1 Lynnwood could clash with No. 2 Gonzaga Prep in the semifinals – although both have tough quarterfinal matchups.
Quest for three-peat
Rainier Beach will look for its third straight state title. The No. 1 Vikings kick things off with Shadle Park (10-13) in the quarterfinals and could potentially face Eastside Catholic, which gave them their toughest test so far, in the championship game.
O’Dea coach Al Hairston has a chance to move back into a tie for most titles in state history. Rainier Beach’s Mike Bethea won a record sixth last year, breaking a tie with Hairston (he won all five while at Garfield), Phil Lumpkin and Ray Hicks.
Eastside Catholic is in the state tournament for the first time since 1999 and will make just its third appearance ever. The Crusaders, who face University in the quarterfinals, are 1-5 all-time in the state tournament.
For the third year in a row, each quarterfinal includes a Sea-King District qualifier. At least one Metro League team has reached the final four years in a row, winning three (two by Cleveland). There were all-Metro finals in 2010 and 2013.
Almost meet again
For a few minutes at Sunday’s draw, it appeared Cleveland would wind up playing University of Spokane for the third year in a row (consolation final in 2012, first round in 2013). But Bishop Blanchet drew the Titans.
Talk about late expectations. Mercer Island coach Kaela Yuen gave birth to a daughter Sunday evening (5 days after her due date) and at last word, Bellevue’s Leah Krautter (due last Monday) is still waiting.