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High School Sports Blog

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

March 17, 2009 at 1:54 PM

A look back at two weeks in the Dome

After three days, the smell I can only explain as the Tacoma Dome funk is fading away. After two weeks — about 100 hours — inside the neon 80s-retro wonder of the Northwest, it takes some time to adjust to the real world.

But thank goodness there was some basketball. Lots of it, at the Class 4A and 3A state tournaments. And so, after all of that basketball, Sandy Ringer has helped me recall some of the top moments of March in high-school basketball. Sandy has answered the girls questions, and I have answered the boys.

Best game

Boys: Columbia River 52, Bellevue 51 (OT). It wasn’t only that this game went to overtime, or that it ended up as one of the most unforeseen upsets of the two weeks. This game will be remembered north of Vancouver for the final 52 seconds of regulation, when Bellevue incredibly scored 13 points and overcame an 11-point Chieftain lead. And that becomes even more incredible when you factor in that Bellevue had scored only 11 points in the entire second half until those final 52 seconds. Aaron Bright started the run, but it ended with senior Matt Olson, who hit a near-NBA-distance three to tie it.

But then credit Columbia River, which came back in overtime and, on Zack Bjork’s runner with 16 seconds left, took back the win it thought it had in regulation.

Girls: I had to thing long and hard about this one. There were a few stinkers in both tournaments, either in terms of being a blowout or poor shooting by one or both teams. In the 4A tournament, Kentwood’s semifinal against Federal Way and championship game against Snohomish both were very competitive, but so many fouls were called.

I’d have to say the 3A championship game might have been the most entertaining all-around. Kennedy obviously came in as the favorite, but the outcome was in question until the final minute.

Best individual performance:

Girls: Several efforts come to mind, but one that still stands out for me is the game Erika Johnson put together to lead Holy Names to the third-place trophy in the 3A tournament: 31 points (on 14-of-19 shooting), 12 rebounds and seven steals. Two nights earlier, the 6-foot-1 sophomore had this line in a 10-point win over White River: 18 points, 13 rebounds, six steals and five blocked shots (and she was shorted about three blocks by the stat crew).

Boys: Gary Bell, Kentridge, quarterfinals against Inglemoor. The most incredible part was not that Bell scored 32 points — a total matched by few in any tournament this winer — it was the way he did it. Bell scored in just about every way possible, from jumpers to lay-ups, one-handed runners to the six free throws he made to put the game out of reach. There’s a reason the UW has already made its interest known to this sophomore point guard, and he put that on display in the tournament. Bell was my vote for the tournament’s most valuable player, after leading that team to third place. Even facing that box and one against Federal Way, he got assertive in the fourth quarter and made the game interesting.

Biggest upset

Boys: Probably Columbia River against Bellevue. And before that, Columbia River against Rainier Beach. For the Chieftains to take out two vastly superior athletic teams, it took some luck, the tournament’s best big man in Steven Bjornstad, and a whole lot of coaching strategy. The other major upset I would point to was Lake Stevens against Decatur, and I don’t want to take anything away from the Vikes, but consolation games often end up unpredictable (and another un: unattended).

Girls: This is a tough call but I was still surprised by No. 6 Federal Way’s 13-point win over No. 4 Lewis and Clark of Spokane in the opening round of the 4A tournament. Federal Way had a great tournament (losing only to Kentwood by 6 points), but L-C had its worst game of the week and came back to win the next three to take fifth.

Other surprises (to me): No. 1 Pasco going 1-2 in 4A; Franklin losing its 3A opener to Enumclaw.

Most fun player to watch

Girls: It’s so hard to pick just one. I had heard a lot about Erika Johnson coming into the 3A tourney and, wow, is she the real deal. When she’s on her game, she’s phenomenal. But she was up and down in the 3A tourney with two great games and two not-so-great. Kennedy junior Yaz Fuller and Moses Lake sophomore Jordan Loera are two other players – both guards – who are very entertaining and capable of taking over games at any time.

Boys: Peyton Siva, Franklin. I’d have to go back almost four years, and two states ago, to the last time I watched a player as much fun as Siva, Franklin’s senior guard. He shoots, he passes, he defends well fundamentally and entertainingly, with high-flying blocks. He’s one of the few 6-1 guys that could compete in a dunk contest (he hopes to at the McDonald’s All-American Game) and he’s also a guy who seems to never care how many points he scored.

Team you expect to be the best next March

Boys: I don’t think there’s a team like Franklin or Federal Way out there, where you knew last March those teams were going to be tough to beat next year. I’d pick Garfield, with so many quality athletes coming back, but I would say there isn’t a team out there without some questions about it next season. Other teams that should be good: Federal Way, Kentridge, Enumclaw, Rainier Beach.

Girls: Hmmmmm. Again, just one? The first team that jumps out is Federal Way. The Eagles should return four starters from an outstanding team that gained valuable experience this year. But there were some other really good young squads in both tournaments. Auburn Riverside and Garfield come to mind in 4A, along with Pasco and Jackson (and Kentwood will have a good group to build around again). In 3A, Kennedy loses five seniors, but has a talented core back (led by Fuller); Holy Names started just one senior; Mercer Island and Issaquah should be contenders; and never, ever rule out Prairie, which still placed seventh in a “down” year and was very young.

It should be another great year of girls basketball in 2009-2010.

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