Wilhelm: State B Tournament an event worth celebrating


Towards the end of the quarterfinal round of the state tournaments, a friend of mine texted me. He was confused, because he saw basketball highlights on the local news from Yakima, and he wanted clarification about where certain teams were.

I explained that Tacoma had the big schools, Yakima had the 2As and 1As, and Spokane was hosting the B teams.

His response? “Dang, you got the worst teams.”

I quickly corrected him. 

The smallest schools? Sure. The worst? Far from it.

Covering the State B Tournament was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in my young career. Spokane Arena was the perfect backdrop, a venue that made each game feel as important as they were. 

It gave me a similar feeling to the one I got watching the state football championships in Husky Stadium this past fall.

The players deserve to have that feeling. Each team not only had to play a full regular season, but had to trudge through district crossovers and tournaments, some of which lasted multiple weeks, to get to this stage.

The level of play lived up to the billing. It seemed like every game came down to the wire, and several stars from around the state showed out. Some of my favorites to watch were Lake Roosevelt’s Chase Marchand, Columbia’s Quincy Scott, Colfax’s Brynn McGaughy, and Okanogan’s Jacey Boesel.

Locally, five area teams placed. The Napavine boys and Adna girls finished off incredible seasons with top-5 finishes, while the Adna boys won three of their four games to finish fourth.

Mossyrock made an improbable run to the state title game, one that included a 15-point comeback and wins over the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds, before coming up just short in the title game.

And to cap it all off, Hayden Kaut hit the shot of a lifetime, a game-winning three-pointer that gave Napavine its first state championship in school history.

I was on the baseline near the Napavine bench in the final moments of that game. After the final buzzer, I was able to see not only the Napavine celebration, but the heartbreak across on the Okanogan bench on the other end of the court.

It’s what sports are all about — The simultaneous thrill and elation of victory paired with the agony and heartbreak of defeat, all with thousands from each town and around the state watching from the stands.To me, it served as a wonderful reminder of how fortunate and grateful I am to do what I do for a living.

Many of you reading this already knew how great this tournament was. 

In the weeks leading up to it, many coaches and other media members asked if it would be my first time. When I told them it would be, the response was unanimous.

“You’re gonna love it,” they told me.

I did. And I can’t wait for next February.