Before I get to the heart of this post, I have to mention two significant accomplishments from last night. First, how about the Snohomish wrestling team? In their home gym, the Panthers snapped Lake Stevens’ 117-match WesCo winning streak with a 34-18 victory.
I also must note that last night against Gig Harbor, Bellarmine Prep’s junior duo of Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley combined for 78 points. Gaddy, who has already committed to Arizona, scored 42, and Bradley scored 36. Together, they shot 28 for 42. With guard play like that, Bellarmine should make for a terrifying postseason matchup.
Now onto KingCo. Today, I detailed KingCo’s new look, an alignment never before seen in the state that will differentiate between individual and team sports.
You might be asking yourself: What’s the difference? Well, let’s start with numbers. Interlake, KingCo’s smallest school, has an enrollment of 772 students (WIAA figures don’t count freshmen because not every school has them). Inglemoor, the largest, has a figure of 2,006. That’s almost three times Interlake’s size.
So as the KingCo athletic directors began to look at a combined-classification league, that disparity stuck out. When it came to filling out a football, soccer or volleyball team, Interlake would be at such a distinct disadvantage against the largest 4A schools. Interlake actually looked at joining a 2A league, but the travel expenses and time would have been a nightmare.
Meanwhile, other schools were looking out for their traditional rivalries. Juanita, which has opted up to 4A for years, didn’t want to lose its rivalry with Lake Washington. Yet it wanted to compete in the 3A postseason, against schools its size. In the new league setup, Juanita will play league games against LW in individual sports, and Juanita athletic director Tim Crowder said they will play nonleague games against LW in the team sports.
“Once the league decided to look at a combined classification, it started to make our decision easier [to drop to 3A],” Crowder said. “It was a win-win situation.”
So with Juanita dropping to 3A, the team sports setup starting to come together, with two six-team divisions in 4A and a seven-team 2A/3A division. The final proposal was put together by Mercer Island swim coach Jeff Lowell, who incorporated the two ideas that were circulating through the conference: a combined-classification league for some sports and separate 4A and 2A/3A leagues for others. Lowell spent a few weeks during the holiday break sorting through about a half-dozen alignments before he came up with the proposal he showed athletic directors Jan. 7.
“He did just a great job of melding the two together,” KingCo 4A president John Applegate said. “Everyone was kind of rejuvenated.”
With the combined-classification nature of the individual sports, ADs hope that this setup will survive enrollment fluctuation in the future. The team-sports alignment might have to be tinkered with, but they hope they have a foundation to work with from here on out.
“The hard part,” Applegate said, “is behind us.”
He said what’s left is the easy part. KingCo still must figure out its playoff and scheduling formats, and I’m sure many will take interest in how football pans out, especially in Class 4A. There’s the potential of a KingCo championship game.
There’s already news out of the 2A/3A division today, with Evergreen coach Shaun Tarantola taking the Juanita coaching job. I had the opportunity to catch up with him just a few minutes ago. It was hard for him to leave Evergreen of White Center, but as a former player at Sammamish and assistant at Liberty, he’s ready to return to KingCo.
“Talking to people from the community, talking to people in the junior-high programs, I just felt like Juanita’s got a lot of potential,” Tarantola said.
More on that tomorrow in the Times.
1. Brett Konen, Newport, gymnastics. Konen scored the top all-around score of 36.2 in a big dual meet with Issaquah, likely the Knights’ top competition in Class 3A. Newport won the meet 175.45-174.9.
2. Kimi Pohlman, Bear Creek, girls basketball. Scored 24 points in a 51-31 win against Quilcene.
3. Derek Britton, Snohomish, wrestling. Scored one of two Panther pins, pinning Lake Stevens’ Jerome Brown in 1:48.
Tonight’s top games
Rainier Beach at O’Dea, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. No one, aside from Franklin, has come close to the Vikings this season. But O’Dea has historically been a Beach-beater.
Decatur at Kentridge, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. Should Kentridge win at home, and Kentwood and Federal Way both win tonight, we would have a four-way tie for first in the SPSL North.