Here are previews and predictions on seven of the eight regional games involving area teams; the other game is Stadium vs. Richland, and I like Richland in that one. All games are played on Saturday.
No. 1 Garfield (22-1) vs. South Kitsap (16-8), Jackson High School, 4 p.m.
- The two teams played on Dec. 27 in the Lake City Invitational in Idaho, and Garfield won that game by 10. The Bulldogs have won 22 straight games since losing by a point to Beamer in the season-opener. Tucker Haymond is Garfield’s leading scorer (he had 39 in his last game) while the Bulldogs can play as many as 11 players for extended minutes. South Kitsap is 6-4 in its last 10 games.
- Predicted winner: Garfield.
Auburn (16-9) vs. No. 2 Jackson (23-0), Jackson High School, 6 p.m.
- Jackson is led by junior Jason Todd, who averages 22.3 points per game. But he also gets significant help from Dan Kingma (14.2 points per game) and Brian Zehr (12.8 points per game). All three have scored more than 20 points multiple times this season. Auburn enters having won two straight one-point games and finished second in the SPSL 4A North this year.
- Predicted winner: Jackson.
No. 10 Arlington (20-3) vs. No. 8 Bellarmine Prep (16-8), Puyallup High School, 4 p.m.
- Terry Dawn is a complete scorer who averages 19 points for Arlington. Arlington has lost twice to Jackson this year, but the Eagles also beat fifth-ranked Stanwood earlier in the season. Bellarmine Prep started the year ranked in the top three, then lost seven of their first nine games this season. Prep rallied to win 14 straight.
- Predicted winner: Bellarmine Prep.
Jefferson (14-11) vs. No. 6 Curtis (23-2), Puyallup High School, 6 p.m.
- Jefferson is playing in the school’s first playoff game in more than 25 years. Daryon James has been on a roll, scoring 20 points in four of his last five games, including 31 in his last game. Deonte Anderson, a 6-foot-7 junior, has been a force inside, averaging 12.7 points. Curtis has won five straight games – all by at least 18 points – since a surprising loss to Spanaway Lake. Curtis’ only other loss came against Federal Way in the fourth game of the year.
- Predicted winner: Curtis.
No. 9 Beamer (17-6) vs. No. 4 Central Valley (21-2), Rogers High School (Puyallup), 4 p.m.
- Beamer owns some of the most impressive regular-season wins: The Titans handed Garfield its only loss in the season-opener and also handed Federal Way its first loss of the season in mid-January. The Titans are led by scoring trio of Bogdon Blizenyuk, Trey Burch-Manning and Juwan Flowers. Central Valley finished second at state last year and have been impressive this season.
- Predicted winner: Central Valley.
No. 3 Bothell (20-3) vs. Bethel (17-9), Rogers High School (Puyallup), 6 p.m.
- Bothell is coming off a 24-point loss to No. 1 Garfield, but the Cougars are still one of the most dangerous teams in 4A. Led by Zach LaVine (29.3 points per game), Perrion Callandret (17.4 points) and Josh Martin (12.3 points), no team has three better options. Bothell’s three losses came to teams ranked second or first in the state. Bethel is led by Bryce Bowers (13 points) and James Moore (14 points) but the Braves have been inconsistent this year.
- Predicted winner: Bothell.
Newport (17-8) vs. No.7 Eastmont (19-3), Wenatchee High School, 6 p.m.
- Newport won four straight loser-out games to reach regionals after a five-point loss to Bothell. The Knights think they are playing their best basketball of the season. Isaac Dotson (13.3 points) and Cal Throckmorton (9.3 points) are tough handles inside, while Miles Fowler (10.6 points) is one of the state’s best defensive players. Will Ferris is Newport’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game and has scored in double figures in 11 of his last 13 games. Eastmont has won four straight since losing to Wenatchee, a team Newport beat earlier in the season. Eastmont also lost by 12 to Lakeside, Class 3A’s top-ranked team.
- Predicted winner: Newport.