YAKIMA, Wash. -- If you subscribe to the logical position that a state basketball tournament — in this case the Class 2A boys and girls in the SunDome this week — is by definition wide open because is nothing is won on paper, then we have a wide-open three days ahead of us.
But make no mistake — there will be a pair of 800-pound gorillas in the room today, so impressive and resume-heavy that nobody will be surprised if they’re raising the big hardware Saturday night.
Lynden’s boys and Mark Morris’ girls have set the prognosticators pace all season and have picked up momentum in their postseason run to Yakima. In last week’s regional round, the Lions and Monarchs combined to win their games by 59 points.
There are certainly significant obstacles in the way of a spot in Saturday’s championship finales, most notably Lynden’s opener today against West Valley-Yakima at 12:15 p.m., but the body of work produced by these two favorites is undeniably a cut above.
Especially in Lynden’s case.
The Lions (23-1) are not only defending champions with four starters back, but they were essentially unchallenged in a league that has produced five of the last seven 2A state champions. Highly experienced, loaded with seniors, big and physical, Lynden returns to Yakima with a 17-game win streak with its only loss to 4A Tahoma in December.
The senior backcourt tandem of 6-foot-2 John Shine (13.3) and 6-3 Dak Shagren (13.0) provides scoring leadership, and 6-5, 270-pound Matt Meyer — a WSU football recruit — is a heavy presence inside. Lynden’s big-stage experience is not limited to basketball — Meyer and several others led the football program to back-to-back state titles.
The Lions are faced with a semifinal bracket that starts with CWAC league and district champion West Valley (21-2) today and could lead to a Friday matchup with fourth-ranked Clover Park (20-6), which is 6-0 in the postseason and led by junior playmaker David Crisp. As a freshman, Crisp was instrumental in the Warriors’ title run here.
In the other semifinal bracket looms second-ranked Pullman (24-1) and its 24-game win streak and No. 3 Renton (23-2), which started 19-0 before a setback to 3A Kennedy.
Mark Morris’ girls don’t have nearly the experience of Lynden’s boys — the Longview crew lost its regional game last year and didn’t make it to Yakima — but their resume clearly merits a No. 1 ranking and favorite’s role.
The only blemishes in a 22-2 season were in December to 4A Union and 3A Prairie, both of which reached the regional round in their respective classes. In addition to going unbeaten in league, Mark Morris owns two victories over second-ranked Chehalis and a win over state quarterfinalist River Ridge.
The Monarchs are used to scoring a ton of points, nearly 70 a game, and they have five players averaging in double figures. Three of them — Kourtney Eaton, Karley Eaton and Ashley Coons — are from a deep sophomore class and that could emerge as a possible liability. Mark Morris has only two seniors.
On top of its resume, Mark Morris has a nice draw with a 9 p.m. nightcap today against unranked West Valley of Spokane (19-5) and a possible semifinal pairing with either No. 7 Burlington-Edison (21-3) or River Ridge (19-5).
In the other half, No. 2 Chehalis and 6-foot-3 post Jamika Parker has a tougher road against No. 7 Cedarcrest (22-3) today followed by a potential semifinal matchup against No. 3 Wapato (21-2).