The White River girls and the Enumclaw High boys have kept their postseason dreams alive, shooting their way to basketball’s Sweet 16.
Both clubs battled through district tournaments that spanned the better part of two weeks and concluded Saturday. White River’s girls emerged as champions of the West Central/SeaKing 2A tournament while the Enumclaw boys fought their way to the title contest, fell a bit short and now move on as the No. 2 team from the West Central/Southwest 3A tourney.
Each is one of just 16 teams from throughout the state in their respective divisions to still have a shot at the eight-team state tournament – and each is a lone win away from every team’s eventual goal. For the Class 3A boys, the state tournament will be in the Tacoma Dome; the Elite 8 in the 2A will gather in Yakima’s SunDome. All basketball state tournaments will be staged March 3-5.
Five other local teams participated in 3A or 2A district tournaments, but failed to advance.
WHITE RIVER GIRLS
Coach Chris Gibson and his squad are no strangers to postseason play, having qualified for the state tournament 15 times during his 17 seasons with the Hornets. To advance to this year’s 2A state tourney, they’ll have to get past the Washougal Panthers, a team that hasn’t made a state tourney appearance since 1983.
White River enters the contest with a 19-3 record, having won the South Puget Sound League 2A with a perfect 14-0 slate. Washougal won the Greater St. Helens League title by going 10-2 and sits at 17-5 overall.
The two will square off a 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Puyallup High School in a single-elimination contest, with the winner heading to Yakima.
White River won its district tourney by winning four straight games, all by double-digit margins. After beating Bremerton, North Kitsap and Liberty, the Hornets met SPSL 2A rival Franklin Pierce for the tournament title. White River won both regular-season games with the Cardinals and Saturday was no different as the Hornets came out on top 43-20.
In a winner-to-state, loser-out contest, the EHS boys are paired against the Stanwood Spartans. They meet at noon Saturday, Feb. 27, at Rogers High (Puyallup).
The Hornets (13-11 overall) enter the regional contest on a hot streak, having advanced after placing fifth in the eight-team SPSL 3A with a 6-8 league record. Stanwood took a more traditional path, going 15-5 during the regular season and placing second in the Wesco Conference.
The EHS crew showed plenty of resilience during their three-win trek to the district finals, winning a trio of games by a combined 11 points. The tourney began with a 52-51 victory over Columbia River and was followed by a 66-59 defeat of Auburn Riverside and a 69-65 decision against Peninsula High in the district semifinals. For the district title, Enumclaw met SPSL 3A champion Auburn Mountainview, a team that had defeated EHS during both their regular-season meetings. The Lions made it three in a row, winning 62-49 on Saturday.
During the title game the Hornets fell into a first-half hole, trailing 32-19 at intermission. The second half was even, but the damage had been done. The Hornet offense was led by Justus Rainwater and Josh Erickson, who scored 18 and 15 points, respectively.
WHITE RIVER BOYS
The Hornets won two of their first three West Central/SeaKing tournament games and came within one victory of advancing, but it wasn’t in the cards.
The White River boys first beat Highline High, but fell in the second round to eventual champion North Kitsap. The Hornets bounced back with a win over Olympic, but were sent home with a loss to Lindbergh.
White River ended the campaign at 15-9; that included a 10-4 record in league play, good for third place.
The EHS girls had a tough draw, opening with a game against powerful Prairie High. Following a 60-27 loss, the Hornets bounced back to defeat Capital 35-25, but were eliminated after losing 37-30 to Hazen.
The Hornets finished the season 11-12, having posted a 7-7 mark in SPSL 3A play.
After falling to Wilson High in their district opener, the Spartans won two straight. First came a 72-63 decision against Kelso, followed by a 55-41 victory over neighboring Bonney Lake. Needing one more win to advance, the Spartans came up short, losing a 43-42 heartbreaker to Auburn Mountainview.
The Sumner squad finished its season 12-12 overall; in league play, the SHS girls placed fourth at 8-6.
The Spartan boys sandwiched a district victory between the two losses that spelled the end of the season.
District play began with a 68-46 defeat at the hands of the Wilson Rams, but rebounded with a 62-46 victory over Kelso High. Facing elimination, Sumner came close, but fell by a single point, 58-57, to Auburn Riverside.
The Spartan boys ended their season 14-9 overall after going 7-7 in SPSL 3A play.
BONNEY LAKE GIRLS
The Panther girls’ three-game district experience was highlighted by a 55-28 victory over Capital High in the opening round. The next two tourney games brought defeats, however, and Bonney Lake was finished for the season. The first loss was a 71-31 setback at the hands of talented Prairie High and the Panthers were then bounced 55-41 by neighboring Sumner.
Bonney Lake ended the year 13-10 overall; that included an impressive 10-4 mark in SPSL 3A play and a third-place finish.