The run-and-shoot gang is back together again.
There’s nothing like a day’s worth of state-tournament boys’ basketball without metro powerhouses Rainier Beach, Garfield, and Franklin of Seattle, and Lincoln of Tacoma in the Tacoma Dome. The last time all four of these schools were in their respective tournaments at the same time was 2008.
Then there is the story of Arlington High School, out of the 4A Wesco North Division. The Eagles are making their first state trip since 1962 when they were a 1A school playing at Memorial Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Puget Sound.
The blend of usual suspects to unsuspecting guests playing against one another for a state championship is what makes this time of year special.
And the eight-team brackets for the state tournaments held at the Tacoma Dome (4A and 3A), Yakima SunDome (2A and 1A) and Spokane Center (1B, 2B) were set Sunday at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association draw in Renton.
Some intriguing early blockbuster boys’ quarterfinal games Thursday: No. 1 Garfield vs. No. 3 Bothell at 10:30 a.m. (4A); No. 2 Jackson vs. No. 4 Central Valley at 2 p.m. (4A); No. 1 Rainier Beach vs. No. 6 Seattle Prep at 5:30 p.m. (3A); No. 3 Lincoln vs. No. 5 Mountlake Terrace at 7:15 p.m. (3A); and No. 1 Lynden vs. No. 6 West Valley of Yakima in the SunDome (2A).
And on the girls’ side: No. 2 Mount Rainier vs. No. 6 Inglemoor at 9 p.m. (4A); No. 4 Wilson vs. No. 6 Mercer Island at 10:30 a.m. (3A); and No. 3 Bellevue vs. No. 7 Glacier Peak at 2 p.m. (3A).
The headliner will obviously feature Garfield meeting up with Bothell for a third time this season. As the 4A boys’ draw was unfolding, Garfield coach Ed Haskins, also a Clover Park High product, could sense that matchup was in the works.
And when it became official, he quipped, “Redraw, redraw.”
“It is a tough matchup, but the way I look at it – it’s the quarterfinals of state, not the first round,” Haskins said. “They are a good team, and they are playing well.”
Fifth-ranked Curtis boys, which drew Newport of Bellevue in its state opener, would play the Garfield-Bothell winner in the semifinals if they can win their game Thursday.
Of course, the Arlington boys could be playing the Harlem Globetrotters in their first game in 51 years, and they would not care. In fact, very few of the school’s teachers were alive the last time the Eagles were in the state championships.
“Our banner has nothing on it,” Arlington coach Nick Brown said, “So this (season) has been a blast. I have great kids … wonderful, wonderful kids.”
For Lincoln, which is returning to the 4A tournament for the first time since 2010, its quarterfinal against Mountlake Terrace will be a rematch from an earlier holiday-tournament clash in December – won 60-59 in the final minute by the Abes.
“It was the third game of the season,” Lincoln coach Aubrey Shelton said. “It is going to be a lot different – a lot better.”
Added Abes’ forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher, who had the game-saving blocked shot in that last matchup Dec. 8 at Highline Community College: “I remember they have got some big (players) and they like to deny on the wings. … We know they are a good team, so we have to play well.”
Wilson High girls coach Michelle Birge came to her first WIAA draw as a head coach well-prepared – with scouting film on six of the seven possible opponents she could face.
“Obviously we are doing the networking, getting some extra film,” Birge said. “I like our chances – I liked them before the draw, and I like them now.”
For 2A in Yakima, the Clover Park boys play Anarcortes at 2 p.m. on Thursday. They are trying to reach at least the state semifinals for the third consecutive season.
“We’re peaking,” Clover Park coach Mel Ninnis said. “We’re like that car engine, turn the key and we are ready to run.”
The top-ranked Cascade Christian girls will try and do something they have never done at the 1A championships – get a win in their opening game. They play Chelan at 10:30 a.m. in Yakima.