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

December 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM

The Fifth Quarter: A look at the SPSL 2A

Welcome back to The Fifth Quarter. This past week, we dealt with an abbreviation that we usually reserve for baseball– ppd. But, alas, the snow on Friday morning canceled classes for many school districts and in turn, postponed basketball games.

What that means? Well, making up one game isn’t incredibly tough since it is still early in the season. But for a team like Jackson, it means just two games under its belt before it departs for the MaxPreps Holiday Tournament in California. The MaxPreps tournament is one of the toughest in the nation (we’ll have more on that later this week).

There were plenty of teams that were able to play on Friday, and for some, it was a packed week of games. Some in the SPSL 2A were even able to get three contests in. We’ve been focusing on 4A and 3A basketball through the first couple weeks of the season and I thought this would be a good time to take a look at what is going on in 2A play.

We’ll focus on the SPSL 2A, which has already started to take shape, even before the holiday break. Here’s a look at the top of the standings (I don’t know why White River is in bold).

White River 3 0 4 2
Sumner 3 0 4 2
Steilacoom 2 1 6 1
Fife 2 1 5 2

White River not only gave itself a 3-0 start to league play with a 60-53 win over Clover Park, but the Hornets also put the Warriors in a tough early-season situation. Clover Park is 1-2 in league play and two games out of first before the start of the holiday break. Of course, it is a long season.

White River is joined at the top of the league by Sumner, which gave Steilacoom its first loss of the year on Friday with a 65-49 win.

The Hornets are hoping to be major players in the state tournament this season after missing out in 2013. It was a disappointing finish for White River, which took home the second-place trophy in 2012. It has the experience to make a deep run this season, with multiple players having been with the 2012 team.

“We’ve had some injuries, so we’re not as deep as we will be,” head coach Rick Tripp said. “Hopefully that gets squared away. Pretty much all the guys on varsity this year have been there two or three years.

Don’t read too much into the two early losses. One came against 3A Enumclaw, while the second came Saturday morning against another 3A opponent, Peninsula. The defeat to the Seahawks was close, and there would have arguably been a different outcome if the Hornets hadn’t expended a significant amount of energy and emotion the night before in a win over rival Clover Park.

The win was not the most important takeaway for Tripp. It is the back-to-back games that he wanted in the early stages of the season. If White River wants to be playing in the state tournament come March, success on short rest will become necessary.

The Hornets have a fairly tall starting five, with players standing at 6 foot 3, 6 foot 3, 6 foot 4 and 6 foot 4. Combine the length with what Tripp calls his most athletic team at White River and the Hornets are good at getting in the passing lanes. Tips and steals then lead to what Tripp calls “the White River way.”

“Basically, our philosophy is, from free throw line to free throw line, we want to sprint,” he said. “Once we get inside those, settle down and do what we got to do. We definitely like to run, for sure.”

White River currently shares the league lead with No. 3 Sumner, a team that also lost on Saturday (at the same tournament, actually, the ShoWare Shootout).

Unlike White River, the Spartans don’t have a senior-laden team.

“We’re young, we got a lot of young kids that have worked really hard to put themselves in position,” coach Brett McDaniel said.

Sumner’s loss on Saturday came to now No. 5 Lynden. The Lions have placed third and first at state the last two years, respectively. With a majority of its players coming from the football team, Lynden is a big, physical team. The size gave Sumner obvious trouble and the Spartans had difficulties dealing with a 2-3 zone. But Sumner was able to quicken the tempo in transition and counteract the size difference.

McDaniel said keeping the contest close, which at a couple points threatened to unravel, was key.

“I like where we’re at,” McDaniel said. “We played last night, so for them to come out and play as hard as we did, having a tough league game last night, I think that shows me that our team is on the pace I was hoping for. That we should be considered in the top of the teams in 2A.

Games I’m looking closely at the first week back of SPSL 2A play after the break:

Jan. 3 – Sumner at Fife

Jan. 7 – Steilacoom at White River

And finally, this week’s rankings (with explanation a following blog post).

4A

1. Jackson (2-0)

Beat Cascade 65-44

2. Garfield (6-0)

Beat Redmond 76-44; beat Roosevelt 77-56

3. Central Valley (5-0)

Beat Rogers 66-50; beat University 67-35

4. Kentridge (7-0)

Beat Kent-Meridian 70-50; beat Auburn 75-66

5. Issaquah (3-1)

Beat Ballard 50-45

6. Ferris (6-0)

Beat Lewis and Clark 67-50; beat Shadle Park 56-42; beat Coeur d’Alene 77-51

7. Richland (5-0)

Beat Kamiakin 73-47; beat Pasco 81-28

8. Arlington (5-1)

No games

9. Beamer (6-1)

Beat Bethell 83-55

10. Curtis (5-0)

Beat Rogers 67-54

Previously ranked: None

3A

1. Rainier Beach (4-0)

Beat Chief Sealth 100-28

2. Bellevue (5-0)

Beat Bellevue 79-61

3. O’Dea (5-0)

Beat Bishop Blanchet 80-41; beat Bishop Blanchet 63-39

4. Mercer Island (6-0)

Beat Liberty 56-39

5. Wilson (4-0)

Beat Timberline 71-51; beat Bellarmine Prep 59-39

6. Franklin (5-0)

Beat Ingraham 85-46; beat Bainbridge 66-63

7. Stanwood (7-0)

Beat Marysville Getchell 63-39; beat Jefferson 59-46

8. Mountlake Terrace (4-1)

No games

9. Eastside Catholic

Beat No. 9 Seattle Prep 57-54; beat Nathan Hale 67-54

10. Columbia River (3-0)

No games

Previously ranked: Seattle Prep

2A

1. Pullman (4-0)

Beat Moscow 78-56

2. Clarkston (5-0)

Beat Lake City 65-59

3. Sumner (4-2)

Beat Franklin Pierce 59-42; beat Steilacoom 65-49; lost to Lynden 43-40

4. Anacortes (4-1)

Lost to Ferndale 63-58

5. Lynden (4-0)

Beat Tamanawis (B.C.) 57-42; beat White River 43-40

6. Mark Morris (5-1)

Lost to Sandy (Ore.) 59-42; beat Kelso 52-46; beat Heritage 66-29

7. West Valley (Spokane) (5-1)

Lost to Lakeside 64-61

8. Grandview (6-0)

Beat Othello 86-48; beat Selah 69-47

9. Bremerton (6-0)

Beat North Kitsap70-57; beat Port Angeles 80-71

10. Steilacoom (6-1)

Beat Orting 82-29; lost to No. 2 Sumner 65-49; beat Centralia 58-48

Previously ranked: Lake Washington, East Valley (Yakima), Sequim

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