Make no mistake, the Henry Foss Falcons are playing like the defending 2A boys state basketball champions. Despite playing in a league that offers up very little in the way of true competition, the Falcons have maintained their laser-like focus and continue to mow through the 2A South Puget Sound League.
While racking up wins is a good thing, it doesn’t help in the Ratings Percentage Index standings when it comes against teams with losing, or middling, records.
Still, every team out there must play the hand they are dealt, and this team is rolling through the deck like a card shark. After topping a quality squad from Fife on Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Falcons moved up to third place in the statewide RPI rankings. The defending champs then made short work of the Washington Patriots by a score of 84-43 on Friday, Jan. 19, followed by a 77-56 victory over the Foster Bulldogs.
Despite winning those two games by a 62-point differential, the Falcons (14-3 overall, 12-0 2A SPSL) plummeted down the RPI rankings to seventh.
Last season, this was a real problem. Not only were the Falcons feeling the RPI calculation brunt of playing in a rather weak league, there was no silver lining at the end of the regular season with a district tournament to raise them back up. That’s correct, even though the Falcons then went on to win the district championship, those victories over teams with winning records did nothing to help their ultimate standing as to where they would be seeded into the state tournament.
This season, the RPI rankings will run through the district tournaments, followed by one last recalculation following the regional round. These rankings will be the seeding into the 2A Hardwood Classic at the Yakima SunDome beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 28. A higher RPI ranking would likely see the Falcons host a regional game at Mt. Tahoma during the round of 16. The top four seeds after the regionals would then have a bye for the first round of the tournament.
Last season, the Falcons finished the regular season at 13th and had to travel to Battle Ground High School, where they destroyed the “home team” Woodland by a score of 82-45. The rest of the story is familiar. Foss had to open play in the first round against Mark Morris and ran away with a 72-55 score. In the quarterfinals, Foss pounded Pullman by a score of 84-69. In the semifinals, Foss ran into some fierce competition from Lynden, but pulled out the 54-51 victory to send them into the state championship.
The next night, the Falcons would hoist the 2A state championship trophy with an 83-73 victory over Selah, who was playing mostly in front of a home crowd.
In the end, the RPI rankings are very important to set the table for the tournament, but one team still has to run that table to win the big golden basketball. Don’t let the Foss RPI slip worry you too much. They’ll have more than enough opportunities to move back up during what should be a very exciting district tournament.
By the way, the 2A West Central District semifinals will take place just down the road at Wilson High School on Thursday, Feb. 15, with the championship game there as well on Saturday, Feb. 17. The Falcons are assured either the first or second 2A SPSL seed into the district tournament. Their opening-round game will be at home on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. A win will put the Falcons into the district semifinals.
The teams from Lincoln High School continue to dazzle on the courts. The Lincoln boys have now racked up a perfect 16-0 record and are sitting at third in the 3A RPI rankings. Talk of a 3A Pierce County League title is still premature though, as the Abes must still face a Wilson Rams (14-2) team that is beginning to look like a legitimate contender for a state title run. The teams will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24, shortly after this edition of the Tacoma Weekly goes to press.
The Lincoln Lady Abes are nearing their own 3A PCL title. Currently ranked fifth in the RPI, Lincoln must still get by a beast of a squad from Bethel (16-1) on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at home. Should the Lady Abes run the table before the regular season finale, Lincoln head coach Jamila Jones will be going for his 100th career victory at Lincoln when the Lady Abes visit the Lakes Lancers on Thursday, Feb. 1. It could be the quickest to 100 wins in Lincoln basketball history.