The Rainier Beach boys basketball team has typically had to go out of state to find games such as the one it will play tomorrow night. Never ones to steer clear of the spotlight...

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The Rainier Beach boys basketball team has typically had to go out of state to find games such as the one it will play tomorrow night.

Never ones to steer clear of the spotlight, the Vikings of recent years have hopped planes to faraway places for the promise of playing some of the nation’s best teams. Their travels have taken them to Delaware and Houston, St. Louis and California.

But this year, for at least one prime-time showdown, Rainier Beach will stay home.

The Vikings meet perennial power Mater Dei at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow in the main event of the Les Schwab Hoop Challenge at Seattle Pacific University.

The Monarchs of Santa Ana, Calif., are ranked 14th in the country by USA Today, and feature the talented trio of senior point guard Mike Gerrity, a four-year starter, 6-foot-7 sophomore Taylor King, who has given an oral commitment to UCLA, and 7-foot-1 sophomore Alex Jacobson.

The game is the main event in an eight-game schedule that begins at 9 a.m. and includes teams from four states and some of the best players in the area.

Les Schwab Classic

Saturday at Brougham Pavilion

Tickets: $20 for VIP (includes reserved all-day seat, program and beverage), $15 for all-day pass, or $10 for a session pass (first session includes first five games, second session includes last three). Children under 12 and seniors over 55 can purchase all-day pass for $10 or session pass for $5.

9 a.m.: Boys, Seattle Christian (2-0) vs. Mount Si (1-1)

10:30 a.m.: Boys, Brewster (1-0) vs. Bellevue Christian (2-1)

Noon: Girls, Redmond (2-1) vs. Monroe (3-0)

1:30 p.m.: Boys, Roosevelt (1-0) vs. Kent-Meridian (2-0)

3 p.m.: Boys, Snohomish (0-2) vs. Bartlett (Anchorage) (0-0)

5:30 p.m.: Boys, Bothell (1-0) vs. Mercer Island (1-1)

7 p.m.: Boys, O’Dea (4-0) vs. Jefferson (Portland) (0-0)

8:30 p.m.: Boys, Rainier Beach (2-1) vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) (5-0)

“I think it’s long overdue that we have the type of tournament that attracts the big-time teams,” said Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea, whose squad briefly held the nation’s No. 1 ranking in late 2002. “It’s probably — as far as drawing the teams — the best event (locally) yet.”

The event’s other blockbuster draw features Class 3A state champion O’Dea against Jefferson of Portland, one of the favorites to contend for Oregon’s 4A state crown.

Plenty of individual talent will be on display. Several of the top players are from the Seattle area, which has produced some of the nation’s top recruits this year. Among those playing tomorrow are Jon Brockman of Snohomish, Marcus Williams of Roosevelt, Terrence Williams of Rainier Beach and Mitch Johnson of O’Dea.

“I love playing in front of the spotlight,” said the 6-foot-7 Marcus Williams. “I think it brings the best out of me as a player.”

Ten players to watch

Jon Brockman, Snohomish: The 6-8, 245-pound forward was recently rated No. 1 in the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s annual Best in the West poll. He averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds last season and has signed with Washington.

Mario Chalmers, Bartlett (Anchorage): Chalmers, a 6-2 point guard, averaged 27 points, eight steals, six assists and four rebounds last season, helping his team to the 4A state-championship game where it lost by one on a three-point buzzer-beater. He has signed with Kansas. Mario’s father, Ronnie, is the coach at Bartlett, a school of about 1,900 students.

Mackenzie Flynn, Redmond: One of the state’s best point guards, the 5-7 Flynn is averaging 15 points, seven assists and four steals. She has signed with Idaho. Redmond meets Monroe in the event’s only girls game.

Mitch Johnson, O’Dea: Johnson, a 6-1 point guard, averaged 19 points last season and was named most valuable player of the Class 3A state tournament. He has signed with Stanford.

Steffan Johnson, Kent-Meridian: The 6-1 guard is averaging 26 points through two games and has signed with University of the Pacific. The Royals knocked off defending 4A state champion Kentwood Tuesday.

Taylor King, Mater Dei: A 6-7 forward, King averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman, and has drawn comparisons to former St. John’s and NBA star Chris Mullin. King has given an oral commitment to UCLA. The Monarchs, coached by Gary McKnight (668-62 in 23 seasons), have won five state, 17 California Interscholastic Federation and 21 league championships.

Brian Morris, Jefferson (Portland): The 6-9 center is the reigning Portland Interscholastic League player of the year. Tomorrow’s game will be the Democrats’ season opener.

Kirsten Thompson, Monroe: Thompson, a 6-6 center, averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks last season. She has signed with Arizona State.

Terrence Williams, Rainier Beach: Williams, a 6-6 guard, averaged 14 points, six rebounds and six assists last season. He has signed with Louisville. He has been playing with a torn tendon in the middle finger of his shooting hand, but is averaging 21 points.

Marcus Williams, Roosevelt: A 6-7 guard, Williams averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals last season. He has signed with Arizona.

Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or

Star gazers’ guide
Want to check out of the top players from this year’s bumper recruiting crop?

Dec. 14 Boys: Seattle Prep at O’Dea, 7:30 p.m.

Comment: Stanford-bound point guard Mitch Johnson leads defending Class 3A state champ O’Dea against Seattle Prep’s UW-bound guard Martell Webster and touted 6-foot-11 junior Spencer Hawes.

Jan. 5 Girls: Rainier Beach at Chief Sealth, 7:30 p.m.

Comment: Georgia Tech-bound guard Jacqua Williams of Rainier Beach likely will be tested by Chief Sealth team ranked No. 1 in preseason.

Jan. 17 Boys: O’Dea vs. Rainier Beach,

Edmundson Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.

Comment: Johnson and Irish square off against Rainier Beach and Louisville-bound guard Terrence Williams in rematch of last season’s 3A state-title game. Monday matchup highlights slate of seven games in King Holiday Hoopfest.

Jan. 18 Boys: Juanita vs. Roosevelt, old Lincoln

High School (4400 Interlake Ave. N.), 7:30 p.m.

Comment: Kansas-bound forward Micah Downs and his new Juanita teammates face Arizona-bound guard Marcus Williams and the Roughriders in a KingCo 4A clash.

Jan. 21 Boys: Mount Vernon at Snohomish, 7:30 p.m.

Comment: UW-bound forward Jon Brockman leads Snohomish against perennial power Mount Vernon in rematch of this week’s 60-52 game won by Bulldogs.

Feb. 2 Girls: Oak Harbor at Monroe, 7:30 p.m.

Comment: ASU-bound Kirsten Thompson, a 6-6 center, and Monroe host UW-bound forward Heidi McNeill and Oak Harbor in WesCo North matchup.

Feb. 11 Girls: Garfield at Redmond, 6:30 p.m.

Comment: Two of state’s top point guards meet when Garfield’s Malia O’Neal, who has orally committed to UNLV, goes against Redmond’s Mackenzie Flynn, who has signed with Idaho.