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The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

March 4, 2008 at 11:21 AM

3A draw thoughts, predictions

Just like the 4A draw, the girls on one half of the 3A bracket seem to have more of a legitimate beef with the system, especially the four teams in the top quarter: Auburn Riverside, Bainbridge, Lakes and Meadowdale. That’s four top-ten teams, including three in the top five. I’m taking Auburn Riverside to win it (against Bellevue), but I don’t think they’ll get through there too easily.

On the boys draw, there’s a little more balance. The top half of the draw doesn’t have clear favorite Rainier Beach, but it does have Mercer Island, Lakes, Seattle Prep and Renton — four of the top six or seven teams out there. And two of them, Seattle Prep and Renton, meet in the first round, an intriguing opening matchup because the winner has a good chance of getting to the semifinals. And once you’re playing Friday without a loss, you’re definitely playing Saturday. And everyone wants to play Saturday.

Mercer Island is playing extremely well right now, but the Islanders will have to figure out Columbia River’s 6-foot-9 big man, junior Steve Bjornstad. Should they get through, a possible matchup with 22-1 Lakes looms. But the Lancers don’t get any kind of gimme against Meadowdale.

In the late game we’ll get a chance to see Squalicum, which is one of only three teams with just one loss. But not many people outside the North know exactly what to make of the Storm, and they get a West Seattle team that couldn’t be more confident right now after taking out O’Dea, Bellevue and Cleveland to get to state.

Before I get to my 3A picks, let’s take a look back at 4A. I had three of the final four teams right: Decatur, Ferris and Bellarmine Prep. But the one got wrong was a biggie, because I had Franklin winning, and they were gone before dinner on Wednesday. And clearly, picking Ferris would have made me look a heck of a lot smarter.

This time, I won’t be going against the team ranked No. 1 all season. Not that necessarily will make me look any smarter.

First round: Mt. Rainier over Mt. Spokane, Seattle Prep over Renton (flipped a coin on this one), Mercer Island over Columbia River, Lakes over Meadowdale, Rainier Beach over Peninsula, Enumclaw over Eastmont, Auburn over West Valley, Squalicum over West Seattle.

Quarterfinals: Seattle Prep over Mt. Rainier, Mercer Island over Lakes (might be the best game of the tournament if it happens), Rainier Beach over Enumclaw, Auburn over Squalicum.

Semifinals: Mercer Island over Seattle Prep (Would be another spectacular game, two very balanced teams), Rainier Beach over Auburn.

Final: Rainier Beach 67, Mercer Island 60

When it comes to the 3A tournament, you can’t go wrong with the Sea-King District. Eleven of the past 12 — 11 of 12! — finals teams have come from that district, and this year, Beach and Mercer Island have been the two best. MI has only lose one game in the state this season — to Beach. The Islanders are going to harass you and make you work on defense, and that’s why I like them coming out of that half. In the third and fourth day, no one wants to face a team like that. And Rainier Beach found out just how tough Mercer Island is on Saturday, when the Islanders took a nine-point lead at halftime before the Vikings stormed back.

The Vikings are my pick because, much like I found out with Ferris last weekend, Rainier Beach has so many guys that can pick another one up. And like Shawn Stockton of Ferris, Reggie Moore of Rainier Beach just runs the show to near perfection. I have a hard time imagining they don’t leave the HecEd without the big ball.

It should be fun to watch.

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