While I have heard some grumbling about regionals in the last week or two — mainly, people just don’t think the 16-team format should have been messed with — regionals are interesting for one very important reason: The games are win-or-go-home, always the most exciting and heartbreaking stakes that can be attached to contests.
There will be some very good teams that are left out of the state tournament this year. Stanwood and Franklin will play for one spot in Class 3A. Either Central Valley or Bothell will clash with a ranked and dangerous Beamer team. That’s part of what makes this time of year so much fun. (You can find the matchups and brackets for 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A regionals here).
In this week’s edition of TFQ, I’ll pick three favorites in Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A. I’ll also highlight some of the best players at regionals in 4A and 3A — it’s an amazing list, trust me — and, of course, rankings can be found at the bottom of the blog.
Let’s get started.
Favorites: Garfield, Bothell, Jackson. Garfield has won 22 straight games, and the Bulldogs are the deepest team in the state. Bothell has the state’s best player in UCLA signee Zach LaVine, and Jackson is a solid team featuring three high-scoring players: Jason Todd, Brian Zehr and Dan Kingma.
Keep an eye on: Central Valley. Teams from across the mountains have won four of the last six titles in Class 4A. Central Valley finished second last year and could be dangerous again this time around.
Feel-good story: Jefferson. The Raiders have only three boys basketball banners recognizing successful seasons, and the most recent one is from 1974-75. Jefferson is led by Daryon James, one of the best players in the SPSL 4A.
Players to watch:
- Zach LaVine, Bothell: UCLA signee averaging close to 30 points per game.
- Tucker Haymond, Garfield: Western Michigan commit is coming off a 39-point outing.
- Lucas Meikle, Bellarmine Prep: Gonzaga commit scored 22 in last game and is one of the state’s best post players.
- Jason Todd, Jackson: Todd, a junior, is one of the most complete players in the state.
- Daryon James, Jefferson: 6-foot-1 guard is explosive and is averaging close to 20 points per game.
- Bogdon Blizenyuk, Beamer: Big man has difficult name to spell and difficult game to stop; averaging 16 points.
- Terry Dawn, Arlington: Dawn is averaging close to 19 points per game for an Arlington team that has lost only three times this year, including twice to Jackson.
- Adam Chamberlain, Central Valley: Chamberlain, a 6-foot-0 junior guard, has scored at least 20 points in three of his last six games.
Favorites: Rainier Beach, Lakeside, Lincoln. Rainier Beach is fresh off a loss to Lakeside, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the area who doesn’t think the Vikings are the favorites to repeat as state champs. Lakeside is playing its best basketball of the year, and Lincoln has two of the state’s best players in Ahmaad Rorie (Cal commit) and Tre’Shaun Fletcher (Colorado commit). One reason not to bet against a team from the Metro League: Since 2000, Metro League teams have won 10 Class 3A state championships. Five Metro teams have finished second in that stretch.
Keep an eye on: Seattle Prep. The Panthers have one of the great equalizers in high school basketball: One of the state’s best players in senior D.J. Fenner. Prep has rattled off big ones before and could do it again.
Feel-good story: Lakeside. The Lions haven’t played in the state tournament since 1991 and now enter as the No. 1 team in the state. It’s been a remarkable turnaround.
Players to watch:
- Shaqquan Aaron, Rainier Beach: At 6-foot-7, Aaron is a big and versatile guard who can do it all. He’s scored only eight points in his last two games, but he’s averaging 20 points per game this season and is capable of having a huge night. He just committed to Louisville.
- D.J. Fenner, Seattle Prep: Fenner, a Nevada signee, is averaging more than 28 points per game and scored 75 points in two elimination games to get Prep into regionals. He has delivered all year.
- Dezmyn Trent, Foss: One of the best scorers in the state, Trent scored more 40 points three times in a week this season.
- Brett Bailey, University: Bailey, who will play next year at San Diego, doesn’t get much attention on this side of the state, but those who saw him at the state tournament last year know what he is capable of.
- Ahmaad Rorie, Lincoln: Rorie, a junior committed to Cal, is an explosive player who has been on a roll this season. In a huge showdown against Narrows League opponent Foss, Rorie scored 24 points.
- Tramaine Isabell, Lakeside: Isabell is averaging 18.6 points and has scored at least 25 points in three of his last five games.
- Joe Rasmussen, Mercer Island: The 6-foot-8 SPU signee is a constant double-double threat and is a solid shot blocker inside. He’s averaging 15.4 points per game this year.
Favorites: Lynden, Renton, Clover Park. There’s been a strong feeling in the 2A ranks that Lynden is set to repeat as champions while Renton has proven to be a dangerous team and Clover Park features one of the best scorers in 2A in David Crisp.
Since Renton is the only 2A team still playing that is actually in our area, I’ll focus this preview on the Indians. Renton opened the year on a roll, winning its first 19 games of the season and advancing to the top spot in the 2A rankings. But the Indians lost their final game of the year to 3A Kenned Catholic and then lost last week to Sumner by two.
Still, Renton enters regionals as one of the favorites in 2A. The Indians are a guard-heavy team that plays at a fast pace. Jonathan Patterson averages 13.7 points, while Lavelle Smith, an extremely quick and athletic guard, averages 13.1. Justin Pienh, a 5-9 senior, can be the difference maker: He averages 8 points per game, but can be a deadly outside shooter.
The Indians play River Ride in regionals this weekend.
Last week, I put together a full guide to Class 1A teams in the Seattle area, which you can find here, so I won’t get too much into those teams.
Favorites: Zillah, Seattle Academy, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell). Seattle Academy has been on a mission this season, while few teams get such consistent scoring as Cedar Park Christian. Zillah is the top-ranked team in Class 1A in the most recent AP poll.
Players to watch:
- Yaniv Shier, Seattle Academy: Scored 42 points in a game earlier this season.
- Trey Drechsel, Cedar Park Christian: Drechsel, a junior, scored 29 points in a game earlier this season and has crossed the 20-point barrier six times this season.
- Caleb Taylor, King’s: He, too, scored 40 points in a game earlier this season and is the third-leading scorer in the Cascade Conference.
- Garfield (22-1)
- Jackson (23-0)
- Bothell (20-3)
- Central Valley (21-2)
- Richland (17-4)
- Curtis (22-2)
- Eastmont (19-3)
- Bellarmine Prep (16-7)
- Beamer (17-6)
- Arlington (20-3)
Out: Federal Way, Union
- Lakeside (21-4)
- Rainier Beach (21-4)
- Lincoln (19-3)
- Mercer Island (22-3)
- Stanwood (18-5)
- Mountlake Terrace (20-3)
- Foss (17-6)
- Franklin (16-9)
- University (15-7)
- Seattle Prep (19-7)
Out: Kamiakin, Bellevue
- Lynden (22-1)
- Renton (22-2)
- Pullman (22-1)
- West Valley (Yakima) (20-2)
- Clover Park (18-6)
- Mark Morris (17-6)
- Sequim (20-3)
- Anacortes (19-5)
- White River (Buckley) (19-6)
- Olympic (18-4)