By Eric Trent / firstname.lastname@example.org
Tumwater made quick work of the 2A Evergreen Conference, capturing the league crown back with 56-24 bashing of rival W.F. West on Jan. 26, completing a sweep of the Bearcats.
Ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press state basketball rankings, few teams in the entire state are more battle-tested than the Thunderbirds. They boast victories over the the second-ranked Class 4A team in the state (Woodinville), the seventh-ranked 4A team in the state (Camas) and the fifth-ranked 3A team in the state (Lake Washington). Their only blemish was a loss to 4A Mount Si on Dec. 30.
The T-Birds are led by two 1,000-career-point scorers in Natalie Sumrok and Aubrey Amendala, though they have four players who can go off for 20-plus points on any given night. Kylie Waltermeyer is a gifted scorer who often is near the top of the box scores every game, and Isabella Lund often gets in double-digit scoring and is also an elite defender.
W.F. West, meanwhile, would likely be league champs in almost any other 2A league in the state and are currently tied for No. 3 in the latest AP rankings.
Led by Pepperdine-signee Drea Brumfield, W.F. West’s all-time leading scorer, the Bearcats have decimated most of their competition, with losses only coming to Tumwater and 4A Olympia.
While the Bearcats don’t have a legitimate second scoring threat, they make up for it with a smothering pressure defense they use to stun opponents from the opening tip.
Aberdeen finished in third place after dropping all four total matchups with Tumwater and W.F. West, and splitting with Black Hills.
The Bobcats are led by guard Madi Gore, who routinely scores in double digits and is the floor leader, though post Abby Martinez is also a threat inside, both offensively and defensively.
Centralia has experienced some momentus highs and some troubling lows. The Tigers ripped off a five-game win streak to start the season after defeating Black Hills in Black Hills for the first time in at least seven years.
The 5-0 start, which also included 3-0 in league play, was the best in coach Doug Ashmore’s seven years at the helm.
But a loss to Class 1A Seton Catholic, followed by a 70-15 defeat to rival W.F. West in the annual Swamp Cup, began a six-game losing streak that was snapped with another big win over Black Hills.
Rochester, meanwhile, has had nearly the opposite season. The Warriors started out on a five-game losing streak, was without their coach for a couple weeks and has recently started to find their groove.
They won three out of four games during a stretch from Jan. 18 to 26 and are led by a balanced scoring attack.
Black Hills is a middle-of-the-pack team after losing star Addie Ainsworth to a season-ending injury before the season began. A young team packed with freshmen and sophomores, the Wolves are led by freshman point guard Kiley McMahon, who is an excellent ball-handler, passer and can also knock down shots.
Shelton is in the midst of a rebuilding year and has gone winless on the season. They were eliminated from postseason contention early.
By Jordan Nailon / The Daily News
Hudson’s Bay enters the District tournament as the No. 1 seed out of the 2A GSHL after repeating as league champs and winding up ranked fourth in the state in the final AP poll.. Aniyah Hampton is a D-1 caliber point guard who can put in on the floor or pull it from long range if need be, and she knows how to get her teammates involved, too. Her favorite target on the wing is Paytin Ballard (5’10”), with Mahaila Harrison (6’0”) holding down the block.
Utilizing a speedy backcourt and a long frontcourt, the Eagles have made life tough on opposing offenses, holding their foes under 40 points per game this season. After splitting with Washougal during the regular season, the Eagles took the first spot when Hockinson downed the Panthers late in the season.
Hudson’s Bay will host Mark Morris in the first round of the tournament. Whoever wins that game will face the winner of W.F. West and Hockinson.
Washougal wound up second in the GSHL and eighth in the final AP poll after dropping a late season contest to Hockinson that sealed the league title for Bay. The Panthers put up nearly identical numbers to the league champs by averaging 58 points per game while holding opponents just under 40.
Jaiden Bea (5’11’) is the most prolific scorer on the team, averaging nearly 20 points per game in a season where she notched her 1,000th career point. Next season she will be hooping for the University of Idaho. Savea Mansfield fills in the gaps for Washougal, putting up 14 points per game and pulling in rebounds, steals, and 50/50 balls that others don’t have the heart to go after. With seven players topping 5’10” the Panthers’ best team asset is arguably their size, which they use to dominate the boards and skew passing lanes for opposing offenses.
Washougal will play Aberdeen in the first round and then face off with the winner of the R.A. Long versus Tumwater contest.
Hockinson used a surge in the second half of the season to vault into third place in the GSHL. That hot streak was punctuated by a 58-53 win over Washougal on Feb. 2. However, the Hawks went out with a whimper to end their league docket, losing to R.A. Long 71-48 and then Washougal 67-56 in their final two games.
The Ritter sisters, Kylie and Ellie, are the primary offensive options for the Hawks while also orchestrating the “helter skelter” defense that they’ve become infamous for. That defense starts with a full court press that’s not afraid to take chances and rarely allows more than 40 points. With a roster laden with upperclassmen, Hockinson brings a heap of experience and expectations to the table that garnered them votes in the AP state rankings and always makes them a challenge in tight games.
Hockinson will play W.F. West in the first round. The winner of that game wll face either Mark Morris or Hudson’s Bay.
R.A. Long is another surprise team on the scene having ascended from the brink of the playoff picture to fourth place with a big push in the final weeks of the regular season. That sprint to the finish included a 71-48 win over Hockinson in the days after the Hawks upset Washougal, and an overtime win over Mark Morris in their league finale that sent the Monarchs to the pigtail playoff spot.
Miranda Lomax is the undisputed leader for the Lumberjills. This season she notched her 1,000th career point while averaging 17 points per game. The senior is comfortable with the ball in her hands and can break down a press with aplomb. Over time she’s proven to be just as happy hitting an open teammate with a dime as she is pulling up in transition or finishing at the rim on a coast-to-coast push. Senior Jayla Clark is Robin to Lomax’s Batman, working in the paint and controlling the glass while maximizing on second chance opportunities.
R.A. Long will face Tumwater in the first round. The winner of that game will advance to play either Aberdeen or Washougal
Mark Morris suffered a fall from grace late in the season that saw them lose a solid grip on the third seed before landing in the pigtail playoff game after a regular season-ending loss to their rivals from the other side of Lake Sacajawea. The Monarchs rebounded quickly, though, dispatching Centralia 61-39 in the play-in game in order to grab the final spot to the district tournament.
Isabella Merzoian came on strong for the Monarchs in the second half of the season and averaged around 15 points in their wins. Emma Fisher is an athlete who can defend, rebound and score without needing the ball in her hands, while Broooklyn Schlecht and Madi Noel handle the ball handling and perimeter shooting duties.
The Monarchs will face Hudson’s Bay in the first round. The winner of that game will move on to play either W.F. West or Hockinson.
Ridgefield, Columbia River, Woodland and Fort Vancouver all wound up on the outside of the GSHL playoff picture after averaging just over three wins each on the season.