No. 10 Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma) (19-5) vs. No. 1 Lynnwood (22-1), Saturday, 2 p.m., Everett Community College
The skinny: The Royals, ranked No. 20 nationally by USA Today, owe their lone loss to Cleveland, the defending 3A state champ and top-ranked team. They were upset at regionals last year by Kentwood and seek their first trip to the Final Eight since 1993-94. They are quick and multi-faceted and very motivated to take the next step. Bellarmine is young and hopes to rebound from back-to-back losses after riding a 13-game win streak to the West Central District semifinals.
Players to watch: Senior guard Jasmin Edwards, the WesCo 4A MVP, is the glue for a Lynnwood team that has lots of scoring options, including sophomore sister Jordyn Edwards (both average around 10 points per game), but many consider 5-10 sophomore Mikayla Pivec (14 ppg) the Royals’ best player. Bellarmine has three players averaging around 12 or better – guards Jasmyne Holmes and Jayana Ervin and 6-4 center Claire Martin.
No. 8 Arlington (19-4) vs. No. 6 Beamer (Federal Way) (23-2), Saturday, 2 p.m., Puyallup High School
The skinny: Arlington knocked a young Beamer team out in last year’s regional round and went on to play Mead of Spokane in the state championship game. Despite some key graduation losses, the Eagles started the season 12-0 before dropping three in a row. Their lone loss since was in the Northwest District title game to Lynnwood (which has beaten them twice). The Titans, who have never reached the Final Eight, are still young with just one senior and come in a bit banged up, like last year. They are quick and athletic, creating problems at both ends of the court.
Players to watch: Megan Huff, a 6-3 senior post, leads a balanced Beamer offense at 13.5 ppg and regularly logs double-doubles. Sophomores Quinessa Caylao-Do (slightly slowed by an Achilles strain) and Nia Alexander both average around 11 per game. Arlington relies heavily on 6-1 senior Lyndsay Leatherman (13 ppg) and 6-0 sophomore Jayla Russ (11.6).
Newport (Bellevue) (16-7) vs. No. 5 Skyview (Vancouver) (23-2), Saturday, 2 p.m., Mark Morris High School (Longview)
The skinny: Skyview was the surprise (to many) state champion in 2012 and missed qualifying last season thanks in part to the absence of 6-1 Jocelyn Adams, who was out with a knee injury. She is back and one of their two D-1 players. The Storm’s only in-state loss came against Mount Rainier in last week’s West Central District semifinals, 65-61. Newport is defensive-minded and comes in as the No. 2 KingCo qualifier behind Inglemoor.
Players to watch: Adams (University of San Diego) and 5-9 Aubrey Ward-El (Weber State) key Skyview’s offense and both average in the upper double figures. Senior guard Chiara Vistor has been Newport’s top scorer (14.4), but four others hover around 8 per game, including 6-4 senior Casey Schoenlein (WSU volleyball commit), who makes opponents alter shots and also leads the team in assists.
Kentwood (Covington) (19-6) vs. No. 7 Chiawana (Pasco) (19-4), Saturday, 2 p.m., Richland High School
The skinny: When the Conquerors are hitting on all cylinders, they can be trouble, but inconsistency has caused problems. Chiawana started slowly, then rolled to the MCC championship despite a late loss to Walla Walla. The Riverhawks lost in a sub-regional semifinal to Gonzaga Prep, then eliminated a very good Central Valley team to qualify.
Players to watch: Athletic Sarah Toeaina, who is 5-10 and will play volleyball at Hawaii, leads a trio of KW players averaging in double figures, scoring nearly 19 ppg. She is followed by 5-11 Jenny Johnson (10.8) and 5-9 Kate Kramer (10.4), who has been key since a quick recovery from a knee injury that kept her out until January. Chiawana is keyed by the Hodgins sisters – Delaney (6-0 senior, signed with Eastern) and Braydey (5-7 sophomore). Delaney averages around 18 a game.
Davis (Yakima) (12-10) vs. No. 2 Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) (21-1), Saturday, 2 p.m., Central Valley High School (Spokane Valley)
The skinny: Gonzaga Prep is 18-0 since a 63-62 loss to St. Mary’s (Idaho) back in early December. The Bullpups had title aspirations last season, then were upset in the quarterfinals by Arlington. They won their final two to place fourth. GP has a great inside-out game with multiple scoring threats and is a tough matchup. The Pirates were in the final 16 last year, for only the second time in school history, previously qualifying in 1986-87. They were eliminated at regionals by Lake Stevens. They return as the No. 2 qualifier out of the Big Nine, despite an overall lack of size (one player over 5-9).
Players to watch: Pick your poising with Gonzaga, which has a pair of stellar guards in senior Hannah Caudill and junior Laura Stockton (yes, John Stockton’s daughter). Both score around 14-15 a game. And 6-foot junior Otiona Gildon is as athletic as they come, also contributing about 15 per outing. Davis has a pair of high-scoring guards in senior Alexis Perez and sophomore Alexis Gratton, both averaging around 11, while 5-10 post Jennifer Morales has been good for about 9 per game.
Kentridge (18-8) vs. No. 9 Moses Lake (18-4), Saturday, 4 p.m., Big Bend Community College (Moses Lake)
The skinny: Moses Lake shared the Big Nine title with 3A Sunnyside and is hoping to get back to the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2009-10. The Chiefs lost the 2008 title game to Lewis and Clark. Kentridge fought through the loser’s bracket in the West Central District to reach the round of 16 for only the fourth time in school history. The Chargers lost to Mount Rainier here last year.
Players to watch: Sophomore Jessie Loera, a 5-7 guard, was the Big Nine Player of the Year and scored 23 in the league championship game. She is the sister or Jordan Loera, who plays for Oregon. Kentridge is led by guards Courtnae Williams (5-8 senior) and Alicia Dugan (5-7 junior), who check in around 14 ppg.
Edmonds-Woodway (17-8) vs. No. 4 Mount Rainier (Des Moines) (22-3), Saturday, 6 p.m., Kent-Meridian High School
The skinny: The McPhee twins have taken Mount Rainier to new heights over the past four seasons and this is their last chance to nab that elusive state championship after semifinal losses the last two seasons. All three losses were to quality teams (No. Lynnwood, No. 3 Inglemoor, No. 6 Beamer) and they have since beaten Beamer twice, stretching their win streak to 10. Edmonds-Woodway was just 9-6 in the WesCo 4A South, tied for third, but has won seven of its last eight to get here, losing only to Lynnwood in the Northwest District semis. Last trip to Tacoma was in 2010-11.
Players to watch: The 6-foot Brittany McPhee, who has committed to Stanford, is Washington’s two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and the school’s all-time leader in points (2,714), rebounds (1,360) and blocks (276). She’s averaging 27.0 points and 12.8 boards this season, but the key for Mount Rainier is getting strong contributions from others, such as 5-10 twin Jordan (12.2 ppg), 6-foot junior Emily Fiso (12.2) and 5-8 junior Aqueelah Williams (8.8). E-W has a balanced scoring attack led by 6-foot senior Sydney Eck (12.4), 5-3 junior Moni Jackson (10.7), 5-10 junior Katalie Kasper (10.0) and 5-6 sophomore Mady Burdett (8.9).
Puyallup (17-5) vs. No. 3 Inglemoor (Kenmore) (20-3), Saturday, 8 p.m., Bothell High School
The skinny: Inglemoor, which placed sixth at state last year, started slowly at 2-3. But as players got more comfortable with their roles and began to blend together better, they’ve gotten on a roll and bring in an 18-game win streak. They are big and mobile – led by 6-4 junior De’ja Strother (UW commit) – and have a lot of scoring options. Staying out of foul trouble, and making free throws, are key. Puyallup, which finished second to Beamer in the SPSL South, has been a streaky team and will need to play its best game to advance. The Vikings lost to eventual-champion Mead in last year’s regional round.
Players to watch: Strother averages better than 16 a game – shooting better than 63 percent from the field – and is a beast on the boards (11.2 average) with tremendous touch. Five others average around 5-10 ppg, lead by 6-1 senior Alex Hagen (9.9). Kennedy Nicholas, a 6-3 sophomore, could be key. Puyallup will need a big game from 6-2 junior Addie Picha (10.7 ppg) and she’s capable of it. Braylie Jefferson (5-7 senior) and Marissa Miller (5-11 senior) also average in double figures.
No. 8 Mountlake Terrace (18-5) vs. Lincoln (Tacoma) (19-5), Friday, 6 p.m., Mount Tahoma High School (Tacoma)
The skinny: Mountlake Terrace has enjoyed a breakout season, finishing above .500 for the first time since 2006 and winning a division title (in this instance the WesCo 3A South, which they shared with Glacier Peak) for the first time since 1980 – the school’s last trip to the state round of 16. The Hawks are 0-5 in state (top 16) games, so a win would be historic. Their only two losses in the past 13 games were to Glacier Peak, a team they’ve beaten once. Lincoln started the season 9-0 before losing to Wilson and is in the top 16 for on the second time since 1987-88 and first since 2005-06. The Abes lost in the West Central semis to Prairie, then beat Kennedy Catholic for the No. 3 seed.
Players to watch: Junior Sam Romanowski, a 5-11 junior, was co-MVP in WesCo 3A and averages nearly 18 ppg. She gets help from 5-11 senior Maddy Kristanson and 5-9 senior Nikki Froehlich, who generally score about a dozen per game. Kiara Thomas, a 5-3 junior, has put up big numbers for Lincoln, including 27 in a 53-51 loser-out district opener against Enumclaw.
Kennedy Catholic (Burien) (18-7) vs. No. 5 Bellevue (20-6), Saturday, noon, Bellevue College
The skinny: After a two-year hiatus, the Lancers are back in the top 16, where they were once regulars between 2001-2011, winning titles in 2009 and ’09. They went unbeaten in the Seamount League this season, beating a good 2A Renton team twice, and are tough when they take care of the ball and get good shots. Bellevue, which reached the state semis last season before losing to Cleveland, went through a little slump in early January, losing three in a row, but got back on track and won the KingCo tournament. The Wolverines had an eight-game win streak snapped in the Sea-King District championship game against Cleveland.
Players to watch: Myah Williams, a 5-9 senior who is the sister of UW’s Aminah Williams, is having a big year after sitting out last season. She averages around 18 ppg and was the Seamount Player of the Year. Five other Kennedy players check in between 6-9 points an outing, led by 5-8 senior Diondra Bourgette. Bellevue features two of KingCo 3A’s top players in 6-foot sophomore Shelby Cansler (15.7 ppg) and 5-9 junior Mandy Steward (14.7 ppg).
No. 10 Ferndale (19-5) vs. No. 9 Wilson (Tacoma) (18-5), Saturday, 2 p.m., Mount Tahoma High School (Tacoma)
The skinny: Ferndale finished second in the milti-class Northwest Conference behind 1A power Lynden Christian and has won five of its last six, falling 55-43 to Glacier Peak in the Northwest District semis. The Eagles went 1-2 at district last season and have three starters back. Wilson is coming off a third-place finish at last year’s state tournament and has been a bit of a surprise after losing two dynamic players from that team. The young Rams, with just two seniors on the roster, reached the West Central title game before losing 63-42 to Prairie.
Players to watch: Linsey Honeycutt, a 5-11 junior, is Ferndale’s top player and averages a double-double with about 15 ppg. Hannah Carlson, a 5-11 senior, contributes 13 ppg. Wilson is led by 5-8 freishman Josie Matz, 5-10 sophomore Kiara Knox and 5-10 junior Violet Morrow, all good for about 13-15 per game.
Mercer Island (15-10) vs. No. 3 Glacier Peak (Snohomish) (22-2), Saturday, 6 p.m., Everett Community College
The skinny: Glacier Peak is making a habit of reaching the regional round, returning for the fourth straight year. The tall Grizzlies (four players 5-10 or better) beat Enumclaw to advance last season, then went 0-2 in Tacoma. They are on a 12-0 run since losing 50-48 to Mountlake Terrace in mid-January. The Islanders, who also went 0-2 at state last year after beating Everett to qualify, appear to be playing some of their best basketball at the right time and could make this one close.
Players to watch: GP features a trio of double-digit scorers in 5-10 junior Sadie Mensing, 6-1 senior Taylor Baird and 6-4 senior Nicole Fausey, all in in the 10-13 range. Jess Blakeslee, a 5-10 sophomore, is enjoying another strong season for MI, averaging nearly 12 ppg, and 5-8 junior Julie Blumenstein has hit double figures in several games.
Auburn Mountainview (20-5) vs. No. 4 Sunnyside (20-3), Saturday, 6 p.m., Eisenhower High School (Yakima)
The skinny: This is Sunnyside’s first trip time in the top 16 since 2001-02. The young Grizzlies, with just one senior on their roster, shared the Big Nine title with 4A Moses Lake and have not lost to a 3A team this season. They beat a good Kamiakin team twice, most recently in the sub-regional final. Auburn Mountainview, hampered by injuries last year, finished atop the SPSL 3A, then had to survive a pair of loser-out West Central District games to get here.
Players to watch: Jordan Rodriguez, a 5-8 junior, leads Sunnyside in scoring at nearly 14 ppg and 5-2 freshman Emilee Malonado averages nearly 10 ppg. Mountainview is very balanced on offense. Samantha DePiano, a 5-5 senior who is the sister of first-year head coach Dustin DePiano, is the only player regularly in double figures, averaging about 12 per game, but six others check in between 5-8, led by Allison Hammer, a 5-7 senior who joined DePiano on the all-league first team.
University (Spokane) (9-14) vs. No. 7 Kamiakin (Kennewick) (16-7), Saturday, 6 p.m., Richland High School
The skinny: After some early season injuries, the Braves were on a roll until running into Sunnyside in the sub-regional championship game, falling 65-58. They finished fourth at state last season, a strong showing after the disappointing 0-2 finish in 2012, when they came into the tournament unbeaten. Kamiakin actually beat University in the fourth- and sixth-place game last year, 47-36, and also has two wins over the Titans this season, most recently in the sub-regional tourney. Their team was bolstered this year by the addition of two 5-11 transfers from Idaho, sisters Tabitha and Maysun Wellsandt. U-Hi’s record is deceiving because those losses came to 4A teams and the Titans have a rich tradition, with a string of state trophies in 2005-07, losing that 2007 title game to Lewis and Clark. They were in the semis in 2011-12 b efore losing to Prairie.
Players to watch: Kamiakin’s Sira Toure, a 5-7 senior who has signed with Weber State, is quick and athletic and can score in bunches. But the Braves also rely heavily on 5-11 junior posts Lindsey Schauble and Tabitha Wellsandt, who both are capable of double-doubles. University doesn’t appear to have anyone averaging 10 or more points, but 5-8 senior McKenzie Peterson leads a balanced attack at nearly 8 ppg.
Liberty (Renton) (19-7) vs. No. 1 Cleveland (23-2), Saturday, 8 p.m., Bellevue College
The skinny: Cleveland is the clear favorite to repeat as 3A state champion. The Eagles have won two of the past four titles (and were third in 2012). The loss to Franklin in the 2012 semifinals was their last against Washington opponents as they are 49-0 in-state since (losing twice to out-of-state teams both last year and this year). Cleveland, now on a 20-game win streak, is extremely quick and wreaks all kinds of havoc with a smothering full-court defense. It’s a big challenge for Liberty, which was hammered 70-28 by the Eagles in the quarterfinals of the Seas-King District tournament. The Patriots, in the round of 16 for the first time since 2000, made a push for the KingCo 3A title and wound up second behind Juanita. After the district loss to Cleveland, Liberty survived two loser-out contests, ultimately eliminating a very good Holy Names team for the last berth.
Players to watch: Senior 5-8 guards Makala Roper and MyMy Ladd make a dynamic tandem and have enjoyed fabulous four-year careers. Roper, last year’s tournament MVP who has signed with the University of California at Santa Barbara, leads the team in scoring at nearly 17 ppg and is deadly from 3-point range. Ladd, a San Jose State commit, is this year’s Metro MVP and generally draws the toughest defensive assignments while averaging nearly 15 ppg. Joyce Harrell, a 6-1 junior, checks in at about 11 per game and Alexia Mefi is a terror on the boards. For Liberty, 5-11 senior Ashlan Applegate has been the most consistent scorer, averaging around 10 ppg, but on any given night five or six others can in double figures.
No. 6 Bishop Blanchet (Seattle) (21-4) vs. No. 2 Prairie (Brush Prairie) (20-3), Saturday, 8 p.m., Mark Morris High School (Longview)
The skinny: This might be the toughest matchup in 3A. Blanchet was ranked No. 3 before losing to Bellevue in the Sea-King District semifinals – and that one might have gone differently if the Braves hadn’t lost leading scorer Jadyn Bush to an ankle sprain in the midst of it. Bush likely will be a bit limited if she does play Saturday, but Blanchet has other weapons. The team features a nice blend of classes and is in the top 16 for the first time since 2004. Prairie was a state power under coach Al Aldridge (six championships, mos recently in 2012). But Aldridge moved to the college ranks the following season and the Falcons wound up losing in last year’s regional round to Bellevue. After another coaching change, Prairie appears back on track. The Falcons have not lost to a 3A team this season, owing their losses to 4A Skyview and a pair of super-tough 2A teams, W.F. West and Mark Morris.
Players to watch: Prairie’s top scorers are typically senior Nicole Goecke and sophomore Cherita Dougherty (both 5-8), who average between 11-13 ppg but have been especially hot during the post-seson. Goecke had 25 in the district final against Wilson, while Dougherty finished with 19 (going 11-for-11 at the line). Lindsey Asplund, a 5-8 junior, is next in line, at just under 10 a game. Bush, just a freshman, averages about 15 ppg and has poured in 25-plus a couple of times. She usually hits double-digits in rebounds, too. Fellow frosh Taylor Chambers follows at 11 ppg and had 20 in one game against Cleveland. Senior Caitlyn Dixon averages just under 10 ppg.
Lake Washington (Kirkland) (12-12) vs. No. 6 Sumner (23-3), Friday, 6 p.m., Puyallup High School
The skinny: LW is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000 and fought through the tough Northwest District tourney to get there, surviving a pair of loser-out games after a first-round loss to Burlington-Edison. The Kangs, who fell just short of the regional round last year, took some licks in a strong KingCo 3A/2A, as their record reflects. Sumner won the SPSL 2A title, beating rival White River twice along the way, then lost to the Hornets twice during post-season play, most recently in the West Central District championship game, 48-45. The Spartans’ only other loss came in the second game of the season to 3A Bonney Lake. They lost 42-40 to Renton at this point last season and were 0-2 at regionals in 2011 (when the format was different). The school’s only other state trip was in 1996.
Players to watch: Jamie Lange, a 6-foot junior, is the SPSL co-MVP, averaging around 19 per game – and she could score more. She’s a handful on the boards, too. Her supporting cast includes 5-9 Anna Hurd (nearly 10 ppg). LW is fueled by a pair of tall juniors, 6-foot Sydney Shepard (14 ppg) and 6-1 Carly Rataushk (11 ppg).
No. 2 Mark Morris (Longview) (20-2) vs. No. 10 Renton (19-7), Friday, 6 p.m., Kent-Meridian High School
The skinny: Mark Morris is the defending 2A state champion and many expected the Monarchs to cruise to another title behind the efforts of 5-10 junior twins Kourtney and Karley Eaton. But W.F. West beat them in the Southwest District title game, 53-47 (Mark Morris’ only other loss was to 4A Skyview in early January). Still, this is a very talented (and young) team and Renton will have to be at its best to return to the Final Eight. The Indians placed third at state last year – their best finish since losing the 1987 championship game to Garfield.
Players to watch: Kourtney Eaton (about 15 ppg) and Karley Eaton (around 14) are a handful on their own, but it’s another 5-10 junior, Ashley Coons, who has been their leading scorer at nearly 17 per game. Renton features 5-11 senior Taylor Farris, a UC-Santa Barbara commit who averages nearly 20 a game. Natajia McMillan, a 5-8 junior, is a threat, too, at nearly 14 ppg.
No. 4 Black Hills (Tumwater) (19-5) vs. No. 5 White River (Buckley) (21-5), Saturday, 6 p.m., Puyallup High School
The skinny: It’s tough to see one of these quality teams get eliminated. Black Hills is a No. 3 seed only because it comes out of the tough Evergreen Conference, which includes Mark Morris and W.F. West. The Wolves qualified for the first time since 2010. White River has a storied program and is anxious to return to the Final Eight after falling short in last year’s regional round to another EvCo squad, River Ridge. The young Hornets – with only two seniors – struggled at times during the regular season, then amped up their defense to fuel a strong post-season run as they’ve won six in a row.
Players to watch: White River has the league co-MVP in 5-7 junior Amanda Lance, who averages about 15 ppg. Kendall Bird, a 6-foot frosh, has averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds during the post-season and 5-11 junior Kristin Sturdivan is usually good for nearly 10 ppg. Black Hills regularly gets double-doubles from 5-11 senior Sarah McGee (11 ppg, 13 rpg), while 6-2 junior Shayla Smothers averages around 10 ppg.