White River basketball fans are doubly blessed this week, as both the Hornet boys’ and girls’ teams will be making appearances in the Class 2A state tournament.
Sixteen teams on each side began the state journey last weekend with regional games, a process that saw the White River boys prevail while the Hornet girls tasted defeat.
Each is still alive, however, and is among the dozen clubs setting foot on the courts in the Yakima Valley SunDome. The 2A tourney kicks off Wednesday, March 4, and wraps up Saturday.
WHITE RIVER BOYS
By virtue of their regional victory, the Hornet boys were granted a first-round bye and will not hit the SunDome court until 3:45 p.m. Thursday. They will take on the winner of Wednesday’s loser-out contest between Selah and North Kitsap.
Using the Ratings Percentage Index system, White River enters state play ranked No. 5. North Kitsap sits at No. 3 and Selah is No. 11.
The Hornets faced North Kitsap in the Feb. 20 semifinals of the West Central District tournament, falling 66-59 to the Vikings.
If White River wins on Thursday, the team would next play at 7:15 Friday night in the state semifinals. If the Hornets come up short Thursday, they will play at 12:15 Friday afternoon; the loser of that one is eliminated but the winner advances to play Saturday for fourth or sixth place.
If the Hornet boys were to win Thursday and lose Friday, they would play at 1 p.m. Saturday for third or fifth.
White River earned its first-round state bye with a 71-56 victory over the Lindbergh Eagles. The victory at Auburn Mountainview High School avenged a heartbreaking 61-60 loss to the Eagles in the South Puget Sound League tournament.
WHITE RIVER GIRLS
Last weekend’s regional game saw the Hornets leading Burlington-Edison much of the way. Some late-game offensive trouble, however, spelled the Hornets’ doom and the squad fell 59-55.
With that, White River’s girls are slated for a SunDome debut at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. Their opponent has a home-town advantage, as the Hornets will line up against East Valley-Yakima. Wednesday’s games are of the loser-out variety.
If No. 4 White River gets past the No. 13 Red Devils, the Hornets will play at 12:15 p.m. Thursday against No. 3 Tumwater. The winner of that one heads to Friday’s semifinals and the loser falls into a 10:30 a.m. game on Friday, another loser-out contest.
It takes two victories in Yakima to advance to Saturday’s game that determine first- through sixth-place.
STATE TOURNEY HISTORY
When it comes to making the Sweet 16, none have done it better recently that White River’s girls. Under coach Chris Gibson, the Hornets have made appearances in 18 of the past 20 state tournaments (including this year).
The top finish brought a third-place trophy in 2012, fourth-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, and a fifth-place showing last season. The only misses in that two-decade span were in 2008 and 2004.
White River’s boys have rebounded from a four-year tournament drought. The last state appearance came in 2015 and capped an impressive, four-year tourney run. The 2012 tournament resulted in a championship-game berth and a second-place trophy.
Before that, the Hornets hadn’t made the tourney since 2005.