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

December 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Class 4A, 3A and 2A girls basketball rankings: Week 1

A week ago, I was lamenting the fact that we weren’t getting the state girls basketball rankings for 2012-13 up and running before any games were played.

Now I wish I had another week. Not because I want to see some more results to feel more comfortable with the rankings, but because I still feel there is still more homework to do on them — even after the dozens and dozens of phone calls and e-mails.

But rankings are always a crap-shoot and as we all know, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

I envision plenty of changes throughout the season — kind of like what happened in volleyball some weeks.

One note — I’ll typically post the rankings on Monday afternoons and they will run in the Tuesday editions of the newspaper.

This year we’ve added 2A to the rankings, which provided an extra challenge since I’m not as familiar with most of the 2A programs. But I am familiar with White River (which played at the 3A level not so long ago) and coach Chris Gibson does an outstanding job there.

The Hornets return some key players from last year’s third-place team, led by 5-10 Kennedy Hobert, and they get the top spot in the inaugural 2A rankings.

W.F. West of Chehalis could have been the clear choice with the addition of Tenino transfer Nike McClure, a 6-3 junior who already committed to WSU. But she has been ruled ineligible, apparently because her family did not move, and must play JV this season (what a mismatch that is).

Still, the Bearcats should be very good and I’ve got them at No. 2 followed by a very talented Burlington-Edison team.

Besides White River, the 2A top-10 includes three other local teams — No. 7 Archbishop Murphy, No. 9 Renton and No. 10 Cedarcrest.

Archbishop Murphy features one of the top players in the area in Beth Carlson (Santa Clara commit). Renton, which features high-schoring Taylor Farris and just missed the Final Eight last year, losing to W.F. West in the regional round. Cedarcrest is a balanced team that made the playoffs last year and takes a 3-0 record into what should be an interesting game tonight (Tuesday) against Lake Washington — a team that could be in the top-10 before all is said and done.

Moving up to 3A, I don’t see an overwhelming favorite. There are a bunch of very good teams that I think could win it — including several, as always, from the Metro League, which has had at least one team in the finals in each of the past three seasons.

I decided to go with Wilson of Tacoma, which is loaded with talent and hungry after failing to get past regionals (the Rams lost to Cleveland). They’ve got two all-state candidates in Tia Briggs and Bethany Montgomery.

I nearly went with Prairie, the defending champion, but am starting the Falcons at No. 2. Mike Smith is the new head coach, taking over for legendary Al Aldridge, and he has a pair of players with scholarships on hand in Cori Woodward (San Diego) and Megan Lindsley (Master’s College in California). I definitely would have gone with Prairie if Jackie Lanz also returned for her senior season, but she transferred to St. Mary’s Academy in Portland.

I gave early consideration to Cleveland at No. 1 as well, and don’t be surprised to see the Eagles up there at some point (maybe even at the end). They’ve got a dynamic duo in juniors Makayla Roper and MyMy Ladd and can really get up and down the court. They went 1-2 at the Nike Northwest Invitational, but held their own in all three games (their final loss was in OT to a very good Coeur d’Alene team).

So, you’ll find Cleveland at No. 3 — exactly where the team finished last season.

And if basketball winds up being anything like volleyball in the Metro, it could be a circus ride all season.

I actually wound up with four Metro teams in the 3A top-10 — Holy Names at No. 7, Lakeside at No. 8 and Seattle Prep at No. 9. That might be one too many, but I couldn’t decide which one to leave off. And that’s without considering Franklin, which lost the state title game to Prairie last season. Sure, the Quakers lost a lot to graduation, but Jasen Thomas does a good job with the program.

I would likely have had Prep higher — but the Panthers lost last week to Lakeside, which might have started on the watch list if not for that win. Prep is another proven program under coach Michelle Hall and has all but one player back from last year’s sixth-place squad, led by MaryAnne Santucci and Michaela Carew.

Prep and Cleveland square off Wednesday night.

Holy Names coach Lee Adams likes to take a low-key approach every season. And I might have bought it if not for opening wins over Lakeside and Renton.

I’ve changed my mind up to the last minute about the No. 10 spot. A couple of weeks ago, I had Enumclaw on the list, but the Hornets have struggled early against some very good competition. Glacier Peak was in the hunt, then lost to Bellevue. Juanita got my attention by playing 4A Issaquah close after an opening loss to Seattle Prep and beating Enumclaw.

Stanwood just missed the 4A Final Eight last year and could be a 3A force — especially when 6-3 Rachel Swartz (foot injury) gets out on the court. Everett is off to a 3-0 start, but hasn’t had the toughest schedule.

So, the winner is (if you haven’t peaked below) Bellevue, which has been very impressive in a 3-0 start.

I’ve got three East-side teams in the 3A rankings — No. 4 Kamiakin, No. 5 University and No. 6 Mount Spokane — and could just as easily gone with Shadle Park. Look for a dogfight over in the Greater Spokane League this season.

Probably the easiest time I had picking a preseason favorite is in 4A, where the McPhee twins make Mount Rainier the team to beat, in my eyes. They led the Rams to a third-place finish last season and left wanting more.

Brittany McPhee, the Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore, is going to have another huge season and sister Jordan has upped her game as well.

Kentwood and Auburn Riverside should be tough as well in the SPSL North (and keep an eye on Kentridge as well). In the SPSL South it could be a breakout year for Beamer and high-scoring Raven Benton should keep Federal Way in most games. Puyallup will contend as well.

All those teams start on the watch list — along with last year’s 4A champion, Skyview of Vancouver. The Storm has been hit by injuries and had a couple of key players elect not to turn out this season.

So watch out for another Vancouver team, Union, which I’ve got at No. 8 coming in.

At least one 4A team from the GSL will make a lot of noise and I’ve decided to give the early nod at No. 2 to Gonzaga Prep. Don’t count out No. 5 Mead either, along with Lewis and Clark and Central Valley (state runnerup last year). The sad thing is that only two of those teams will make it to the Final Eight at best — a Mid-Columbia Conference team (like Chiawana) could also wind up with one of the two berths.

The Pahukoa twins power Lake Stevens to the No. 3 spot. Brooke and Brittney have committed to Boise State and should be dynamite again. Two other WesCo teams made the rankings with Lynnwood at No. 7 and Jackson at No. 9. Lynnwood should make an easy transition from 3A, thanks in part to lightning-quick Jasmine Edwards, and Jackson has the Kingma sisters again.

KingCo is represented by Inglemoor at No. 4 and Woodinville at No. 6, but don’t lose track of Issaquah or Skyline. Inglemoor is tall, talented and deep. Woodinville will miss all-everything Ali Forde, but MacKenzie Campbell is putting up some solid early numbers and the Falcons have a way of finding their way to Tacoma.

So, for better or worse, that’s my rationale on these early rankings and I’ll be anxious to hear your thoughts. Check the Wednesday newspaper for my preseason All-State teams and a feature on one very promising up-and-coming player (I’ll keep it a secret for now).

Class 4A

1. Mount Rainier (Des Moines) (27-2)

2. Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) (19-7)

3. Lake Stevens (22-2)

4. Inglemoor (Kenmore) (17-6)

5. Mead (Spokane) (12-11)

6. Woodinville (23-4)

7. Lynnwood (19-5)

8. Union (Vancouver) (14-9)

9. Jackson (Mill Creek (22-5)

10. Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma) (17-5)

Others to watch (alphabetically) – Arlington (14-10), Auburn Riverside (19-6), Beamer (Federal Way) (8-12), Central Valley (Spokane) (25-3), Chiawana (Pasco) (17-4), Federal Way (22-6), Issaquah (17-7), Kentwood (Covington) (21-6), Lynnwood (19-5), Olympia (10-15), Puyallup (11-9), Skyline (17-8), Skyview (Vancouver) (25-3), Snohomish (11-12)

Class 3A

1. Wilson (Tacoma) (20-4)

2. Prairie (Brush Prairie) (27-1)

3. Cleveland (Seattle) (22-7)

4. Kamiakin (Kennewick) (23-2)

5. University (Spokane) (17-9)

6. Mount Spokane (6-15)

7. Holy Names (Seattle) (14-8)

8. Lakeside (Seattle) (20-9)

9. Seattle Prep (22-8)

10. Bellevue (14-11)

Others to watch (alphabetically) – Auburn Mountainview (20-6), Bainbridge (13-11), Everett (12-10), Enumclaw (15-8), Franklin (Seattle) (24-4), Glacier Peak (Snohomish) (18-7), Juanita (Kirkland) (21-6), Lakes (Lakewood) (20-6), Mercer Island (5-15), Shadle Park (Spokane) (16-8), Shorecrest (Shoreline) (22-5), Stanwood (23-3).

Class 2A

1. White River (Buckley) (27-3)

2. W.F. West (Chehalis) (22-5)

3. Burlington-Edison (24-3)

4. Mark Morris (Longview) (20-5)

5. Wapato (20-4)

6. Ellensburg (10-11)

7. Archbishop Murphy (Everett) (16-6)

8. River Ridge (Lacey (18-7)

9. Renton (18-7)

10. Cedarcrest (Duvall) (13-9)

Others to watch (alphabetically) – Black Hills (Olympia) (12-13), Clarkston (25-1), East Valley (Yakima) (24-2), Lake Washington (Kirkland) (14-9), Lynden (19-10), Prosser (13-10), Pullman (10-13), Toppenish (12-9), West Valley (Yakima) (11-10).

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