It’s been a long and winding road to the playoffs for many Tacoma-area high school basketball teams this season. While several squads ran away with league championships, even more fought tooth and nail to stay in contention for postseason berth. After 20 regular season games, the seeds have been set for the various district tournaments and you can basically throw the records out. Now it’s time to put up or shut up. There is no time for do-overs at this stage in the game.
The one thing that looks very clear this season is that more than a few local teams look like legitimate contenders to not only win a district championship, but some also look like serious contenders for a state title.
Before we jump into who is playing who, and where, there are some big-time kudos to be doled out to a Tacoma head coach. When the Lincoln Lady Abes closed out the regular season with a decisive 72-39 road win over the Lakes Lancers, the victory marked the 100th career win for Lincoln head coach Jamila Jones. So far, we have not been able to find another Lincoln coach to reach 100 wins in such a short amount of time. Being the second-oldest school in Tacoma, that makes this century mark even more impressive.
Speaking of the Lady Abes (19-1), they will now do battle in the 3A West Central District tournament with six seeds available to move on to the state regional round of 16. Currently ranked second in the 3A RPI standings, Lincoln will open play against Yelm (8-12) shortly after this issue of the Tacoma Weekly goes to press. A Lincoln victory will see the Abes likely playing Peninsula (17-3) on Friday, Feb. 9, at Bellarmine Prep at 6 p.m. Top-ranked Gig Harbor (16-4) and Prairie (18-2) also look like strong contenders for the district title. Wilson (13-7) will have to tussle with the Tides if they want to even make it to the semifinals.
On the boys’ side, the 3A WCD tournament looks like the makings of a barnburner. The undefeated Abes (20-0) are currently second in the 3A RPI, with crosstown rival Wilson (17-3) sitting in the seventh position. The two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, so don’t be surprised if the two teams square off in yet another district title game. However, fifth-ranked Timberline (16-4), eighth-ranked Prairie (15-5) and North Thurston (19-1) are going to put up a considerable fight. Six teams will advance to the state regionals.
Lincoln hosts Shelton (8-12) on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. Wilson hosts Central Kitsap (10-10) at the same time. Stadium (9-10) will have their hands full on the road against Timberline.
The 4A WCD girls’ tournament is probably the toughest 4A district field in the state. While 4A SPSL champion Bellarmine (17-3) looks strong to make it out with one of the seven seeds to the regionals, the path for Curtis (13-7) will be considerable tougher as they open play against No. 10 Kentlake (16-5), with a probable contest with No. 8 Todd Beamer (16-4) should they win. Bellarmine opens play hosting Skyview (6-10) on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m.
On the boys 4A side, the 4A WCD tournament looks like quite the obstacle course. Undefeated Federal Way (21-0) looks like a monster at the moment, and the other 15 teams in the field are going to need a minor miracle to snag the title from them. Unlike last year, district placings matter, because the RPI data will continue to tally wins and losses all the way through the regional round. No teams are going to get into a placing game and put it in cruise control, as their RPI ranking will be on the line for the ensuing state tournament. Curtis (15-5) hosts Auburn Mountainview (5-16) and Bellarmine hosts Auburn (14-7) shortly after this issue goes to print. Both teams could face top-five opponents in the quarterfinals, should they advance.
The defending 2A state champion Foss Falcons look like considerable favorites in the 2A WCD tournament. With five seeds to regionals on the line, strong contenders for a ticket to regioinals include Clover Park (14-7) and Fife (17-4). Don’t be surprised if the title game on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Wilson High School is another matchup between Renton (18-3) and Foss (17-3). The fourth-ranked Falcons knocked off Renton in the 2A South Puget Sound League championship game on Friday, Feb. 2, by a score of 83-65 after three quarters of close play.
On the girls’ 2A side, the Fife Trojans (14-7) look like they’ve got a decent, but tough, shot at one of the district’s five seeds to the regionals. A rematch with league champion White River (18-4) in the quarterfinals looks like a possibility for the Trojans, which would then send Fife onto a track where they would need to win three consecutive loser-out games to advance to regionals.
The Cascade Christian boys (12-8) and girls (12-8) both look like legitimate threats to win out in the 1A WCD tournament. The boys’ field will send two to regionals, while the girls’ field will send three.
Life Christian is sending their girls’ and boys’ teams to the 2B district tournament and both fields are about as tough as they come. The Lady Eagles (14-3) and the boys’ team (18-2) are both ranked fifth in their respective 2B RPI standings. There are five seeds to regionals on the line in both tournaments with both squads owning quality bracket draws due to excellent regular-season runs. The boys’ field also includes Chief Leschi (14-6), who will also be looking for a return to the Hardwood Classic in Spokane. Eight out of the top 14 teams in the boys’ 2B RPI standings will take part in the Southwest District tournament. Something’s going to have to give.
The Tacoma Baptist boys (19-2) look like they are peaking at the right time of the season. With six seeds available out of the 1B Tri-District tournament, the Crusaders look like one of the stronger teams in the field. While the Lady Crusaders (6-15) will need some minor miracles to advance, the boys’ team may be able to punch a ticket to the Spokane Arena.