Strange occurrences have been happening for years at the WIAA state-tournament draw for basketball.
This one Sunday will be remembered for a while.
It was the path Vashon High opened itself up for when it finished a surprising fifth in the District 1/2/3 tournament, and it was the fate Pirates coach Andy Sears wanted in his own hands.
And it came down to drawing “Kings” or “Vashon” out of a hat for the remaining school to be placed in the top-heavy lower bracket, Sears pulled out his own school’s name.
Minutes later, the defending 1A champion Pirates, led by 6-foot-10 center John Gage, a Stanford signee, drew top-ranked Chelan, guided by Virginia-bound guard Joe Harris, arguably the best shooter in the state.
“I made this bed,” Sears said to another coach as he left the WIAA board room where the draw is held.
Finally calm, he talked about the matchup.
“With any of these teams, you have to change it up and give them different looks. You can’t stay in anything and let him in get in rhythm for too long. We’ll definitely need to play team defense,” Sears said. “If we can put pressure on the perimeter and send him to a 6-foot-10 guy (Gage), that’s a good thing for us.”
Of course, if Harris so chooses, he could stay on the perimeter and launch 3-pointers. He tallied 36 points and 11 rebound in the Goats’ 70-56 victory over Freeman in the District 6/7 championship game.
These two programs have met before in the 1A tournament – the last coming in the first round of the 2005 event (won by Chelan).
And the Pirates knocked off Chelan in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday tournament in 2009 in Yakima.
“I read (about the matchup),” Gage said. “It got my blood going.”
They finish off Wednesday action in the Yakima SunDome with a 9 p.m. tipoff.
Four of the top five ranked 1A boys teams – No. 1 Chelan, No. 3 Cascade Christian, No. 4 Vashon and No. 5 Onalaska – occupy lower-bracket slots. Cascade Christian faces Lake Roosevelt at 4 p.m.
“The lower bracket is tough,” Cougars coach Jerry Williams said. “Thing is, I’m just happy we’re in it this year.”
Cascade Christian’s last state trip was 2006.
On the girls side, Vashon will open with Granger at 12:30 p.m.