Several Seattle-area basketball teams will challenge themselves by playing in holiday basketball tournaments.

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Winter is here and that means Stanwood girls basketball coach Dennis Kloke is thinking about the state tournament.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association will debut a ranking system to seed the brackets for the boys and girls state tournaments on all levels — discarding the past method of holding a draw to place teams. Rankings will be based on the Rating Percentage Index, much like college hoops, meaning strength of schedule is important.

Kloke is using the break to have the Spartans play competitive nonleague games in hopes the matchup — and a win — will carry weight in February. Stanwood is headed to Yakima to play West Valley on Tuesday and will play a back-to back as part of Mountlake Terrace’s holiday tournament Dec. 29-30.

“I want to see mentally how tough my young ladies are,” said Kloke, who has coached the program since 2002. “And I expect them to be tough.”

West Valley (4-3) placed second in the Big 9 standings last season. The Rams returned most of their roster.

Stanwood, a WesCo 3A team, will face conference 4A opponents in Kamiak and Mariner at the holiday tourney. KHS is off to a 4-1 start while Mariner is 3-2, losing to Kamiak last week.

No. 3 Stanwood has proved to be tough to open its season. Its sole senior, guard Ashley Bierer, sprained her left ankle the fourth game of the season but the Spartans (7-0, 2-0 WesCo) remain undefeated.

“We’re a lot more efficient with Ashley at shooting guard,” Kloke said. “We are hoping by Jan. 4 she’ll be back.”

Including Bierer, Stanwood has four players averaging double figures. Kloke likes to press on defense, averaging 14.9 steals per game. Ashley Alter, a junior guard, leads in scoring (18.4 points per game) and steals (4.6).

Stanwood isn’t the only area team sprinkling in a holiday tournament during the winter break. Here’s a look at some of the others:

• Ranked among the top 15 boys basketball teams in the nation by USA Today, No. 12 Garfield and No. 13 Nathan Hale will participate in the Les Schwab Tires Invitational at Liberty High in Hillsboro, Ore. The 16-team field will play a double-elimination tournament Dec. 27-30 and hold a slam-dunk contest on Dec. 29. The action will be livestreamed at

• King’s, the defending Class 1A boys state champs, is headed to Mesa, Ariz., for the Basketball Challenge. It’s one of the biggest tourneys in the country and the Knights will play four games Dec. 27-30.

• Bothell’s boys team is holding a tournament featuring O’Dea (Class 3A) and Shorecrest (Class 2A), which placed second at their respective state tournaments last season. The round-robin format runs Dec. 28-30.

• Auburn Riverside’s girls team (6-2, 5-0) will heat up the winter break by first playing host to North Puget Sound League rival Todd Beamer (9-0, 6-0) on Tuesday for the top spot in the Olympic Division. The game is a doubleheader with the boys. ARHS will hold its Holiday Classic from Dec. 28-29.

• The Juanita girls, who are second in KingCo 3A standings, are participating in Kingston’s second annual Battle of the Cove tournament Dec. 28-30. Jackson, Sammamish, Olympia and Sequim are the other teams in the field.