Five Twin Harbors area teams begin their quest for state supremacy as the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association state championship basketball tournaments take place this week.
Elma’s girls team, Willapa Valley boys and girls teams, and South Bend and Taholah’s girls teams earned spots in their respective section state tournaments last week and are all scheduled to play first-round state tournament games today.
Elma received the highest seed of any local team, earning the No. 5 seed in the Class 1A state tournament.
Willapa Valley, the only Twin Harbors boys team to reach the state finals, received a No. 6 seed in the Class 2B tournament.
Here’s a preview of all state first-round games involving local teams.
Class 1A girls: (5) Elma vs. (13) Overlake
No. 5 Elma got a good look at the type of competition it could potentially face in the 1A tournament with a 47-34 loss to No. 4 Cashmere in the regional round.
Now, the reigning 1A District IV champion Eagles take on No. 13 Overlake in the first round of the state championships.
Elma (22-3) possesses three players averaging in double figures. Junior center Jalyn Sackrider leads the way with 13.6 points per night while Kali Rambo and Quin Mikel, also juniors, score 11.1 and 11.7 per game, respectively.
Overlake (18-4), the Emerald City League champions, enters the game having won 11 of its past 12 games. The Owls’ only loss in that time frame came at the hands of the state’s No. 3 team, Lynden Christian, in a district tournament game.
Overlake is led by sophomore Kaku Cosmos (14.3 ppg) and junior Eliza Friend (13 ppg) for an Owls offense that averages 45.9 points per game.
Class 2B boys: (6) Willapa Valley vs. (13) Oroville
Simply put, Willapa Valley will go as far in the tournament as Matt Pearson and Logan Walker will take them.
The Vikings’ top two scorers averaged 35 points per game combined this season, each possessing the ability to score 30-plus points a night if the opportunity presents itself.
Both played great in the Vikings’ run to the 2B District IV title game, but a big loss to Toledo in that game followed by a sub-par performance in a regional-round loss to No. 3 St. George’s, have fans wondering who will step up for the Vikings (19-6 overall) when quality defenses are able to stifle Walker and Pearson’s output.
Oroville (18-6) finished second in the Central Washington B League and eked out a two-point victory over Napavine in the 2B Regional Playoffs to earn its trip to state.
The Hornets held a seven-game win streak before back-to-back losses to Lake Roosevelt and Brewster in the 2B District 5/6 Tournament.
Class 2B girls: (11) Willapa Valley vs. (6) Liberty
Willapa Valley earned its first trip to the state tournament in 16 years by holding Lake Roosevelt to 35 points in a regional-round elimination-game victory on Friday.
Holding its next opponent to such a low score might not be so easy.
The Vikings (19-5) will have a tough task against a solid Liberty team and their top scorer, 6-foot junior Maisie Burnham (24.6 ppg).
But Willapa Valley has made it to state on the back of its team defense and the offensive production of its two seniors — Brooke Friese (13.7 ppg) and Hannah Cook (10.5 ppg).
Willapa Valley’s Katie Adkins and Britney Patrick, both of whom average eight points a game, will also be tasked with producing points for a Vikings offense that has, at times, had trouble scoring this season.
But Willapa Valley’s defense has consistently kept the Vikings in games this season. If Willapa Valley is to pull off the upset, it will likely have to rely on its defense to do so again.
Class 2B girls: (15) South Bend vs. (7) Auburn Adventist
The South Bend Indians are the living embodiment of the often used coaching phrase: “We want to be playing our best at the end of the season.”
The Indians have won eight of their last nine games, including a 42-36 upset win over No. 10 Liberty Bell with their season on the line in Saturday’s regional playoff game.
South Bend (16-9), which finished in fourth place in the 2B Pacific League, has played solid on the defensive end has relied on its three seniors — Karley Reidinger (15.5 ppg), Jessica Sanchez (11.3 ppg) and Hannah Byington (8.4 ppg) — during its improbable run to the state tournament.
In Auburn Adventist (20-2), the Indians will be squaring off against a Falcons team that didn’t lose a game until a 77-42 loss to No. 3 La Conner in the 2B Tri-District Tournament on Feb. 16.
Auburn Adventist then lost its regional-round seeding game 71-16 to the state’s second-ranked team — Tri-Cities Prep — a week later.
Class 1B girls: (7) Taholah vs. (15) Selkirk
The seventh-seeded Taholah Chitwhins had a tough draw after claiming the 1B District IV championship, facing No. 2 Pomeroy in the state regional round.
After falling 63-32 to Pomeroy in the regional playoffs, Taholah enters the first round of the state tournament facing No. 15 Selkirk today.
Taholah (18-4) is led by senior captain Kayleah McCrory, senior point guard Denise Curleybear and senior forward Nettie Mall, who was recently named a WIAA Athlete of the Week.
The Chitwhins have won 12 of their past 13 games (not including games won by forfeit), allowing 50 points or more in a game just once during that stretch.