Between the weather and Christmas, this past weekend gave us a rare four full days off from high school basketball in the area. With an extended break from the chaos just about a month into the season, there’s no better demarcation between the winter’s first and second acts. So as the beginning of basketball winds down, here’s what we know about the area’s teams:
There’s no better time to learn a lesson or two than in December, and a fair few of the area’s favorites got some doses of reality after sizzling starts to the season. There’s plenty of time to bounce back — indeed, a few of the teams to follow have already gotten back into the win column. But if teams come together for postseason runs, these could be the challenging moments looked back on as turning points.
* The W.F. West boys started the season with a statement non-league win over Ridgefield and a pair of blowouts, but took a gut-check of a loss to Black Hills, the Wolves’ press, and a raucous road environment.
* The Adna girls lasted longer undefeated than anyone else in the Central 2B League, but couldn’t handle Montesano’s height in a non-league loss.
* The next day, the Tumwater girls ran into the exact same problem against the Bulldogs. Combined, the Pirates and T-Birds forced 37 first-half turnovers in those two games, but only scored 33 first-half points.
* The Tumwater boys got an invite to the prestigious Hardwood Invite and opened their time in Seattle with a win over 1A Kings, but then dropped three straight to 4A contenders. Turns out those big schools can play.
* The Napavine boys came into the season with swagger from their football title and blew past their first four opponents from District 4, but a trip across the mountains saw the Tigers lose handily to Davenport and Brewster, in results the seeding committees will probably be remembering come February.
Plenty of contenders
Of course, no December loss is going to be anything more than a blip on the radar by the time the postseason rolls around. All of the aforementioned squads are still in pole position in their respective leagues; nobody came into the season a favorite and has crashed and burned.
Between football, volleyball, and soccer, the area had eight league champions in the fall. So far this winter, the local basketball sides look like they could come close to that number.
* In the 2A EvCo, the Tumwater and W.F. West boys are still on pace to clash for the top spot, though Black Hills — coming off that win over the Bearcats — will get more serious as a third contender with every league victory. Meanwhile, the W.F. West girls are still perfect heading into a tough tournament in Lynden this coming weekend, and once Kylie Waltermeyer comes back, Tumwater will have all of its weapons.
* This could be the year the Tenino boys take the jump; so far, the Beavers are 4-1, though they haven’t gotten into league play yet.
* In the 1B ranks, the Mossyrock girls still look to be the dominant force in the Columbia Valley League. As usual, the Vikings have loaded up their non-league schedule with tests, and so far are 2-1 against 2B teams, with matchups against Onalaska and Adna down the road. On the boys’ side, Mossyrock’s ascension in football has transitioned to the hardwood, with the Vikings blowing out Naselle. Now, the question remains whether they can also take out Willapa Valley. And in the Coastal, Oakville is no longer undefeated, but when they get all their pieces back, the Acorns will be a problem for anyone.
And chaos in the C2BL…
Six hundred words into this article, and we’re finally saying the words “Morton-White Pass.” The MWP boys have been as good as advertised so far this year, with a lineup full of players who can all go off and about four different ways to beat you. So far, though, their league wins have come against three teams with one combined league victory; coming out in the new year, they’ll face Adna and Wahkiakum, both of whom are undefeated in C2BL play, in back-to-back contests.
Speaking of the Pirates and Mules, both have looked real good to start, and despite the tough losses out east, throw Napavine into that conversation as well for the top four.
Behind them, though, there’s a logjam of four teams with 1-3 league records in Toledo, Rainier, Onalaska, and Toutle Lake. Due to some weird and random scheduling, though, there’s only been one game so far between any of those four teams. With a month full of league play to go, it’ll be interesting to see whether any of the Riverhawks, Mountaineers, Ducks, and Loggers can rise above the rest, and whether any can pull an upset on the four teams above them at the moment.
And if that was too much order for you, go on over to the girls’ side, where Adna has raced out to an early lead and has the best league win of the season thus far — a nine-point win over Rainier — and Napavine is similarly unbeaten in C2BL play. But the Mountaineers are hanging within striking distance should either slip up, Wahkiakum is still the defending league champs with a defending league MVP, and Toutle Lake and Morton-White Pass both also bring lineups that could surprise someone if things go right — or get upset by teams lower in the standings if things go wrong.
Of course, everybody’s just playing for seeding in the district tournament. Based on the crossover games so far, it looks like another year in the boys game where the C2BL could feast on the P2BL, and without Kiera Gardner in the mix at Raymond anymore, the girls’ side could be a lot more even as well.
So do we know anything at all for sure as the first stage of the basketball season comes to an end and the curtain lifts on the second? Why yes, we do: It’s going to be a lot of fun, and just about all of the games are going to matter. Happy holidays to us.