Timberline High boys basketball coach Allen Thomas calls his Blazers playing in the prestigious Les Schwab Invitational a business trip, and a state tournament-like event.
It will also be “one of those moments these guys will never forget the rest of their lives,” he said.
The Blazers will be showcased in one of the nation’s premier high school basketball holiday tournaments starting Friday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore., just west of Portland.
The 16-team, four-day tournament draws nationally ranked teams, plus future college and NBA stars. The Blazers (2-4) open with Portland’s Jesuit High, which has played in the past two Les Schwab championship games, at 1:30 p.m. today.
The Blazers are one of four out-of-state teams invited to join eight Oregon teams; Seattle’s Rainier Beach, with Louisville signee Shaqquan Aaron, is the only other Washington team.
Thomas said tournament officials approached him about attending the tournament after the Blazers’ run at the Class 3A state tournament last March. Officials were impressed with Timberline’s Donaven Dorsey, as well as a number of players the Blazers returned for the 2013-14 season.
“We are blessed to be invited because of the caliber of teams that are there,” Thomas said.
Dorsey, a 6-foot-7 wing and University of Washington signee, is one of a several Division I signees or prospects who will play at the tournament, including 6-foot-11 center Jahlil Okafor, who signed with Duke, and Paul White, a Georgetown commitment, both from Whitney Young of Chicago.
Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman features a pair of juniors — 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman and 6-10 Chase Jeter — both considered top-20 recruits for the class of 2015.
Thomas said showcasing his team at a tournament of this caliber is a good experience for his younger players who have aspirations of playing at the college level.
“It’s going to be huge for them as far as experience and getting to play against the best,” he said.
NORTH THURSTON HOSTS TOURNAMENT
On Friday and Saturday, the annual North Thurston Holiday Tournament will include varsity and junior-varsity teams from Yelm, River Ridge, Tumwater, and host North Thurston.
The varsity games on Friday are Yelm vs. River Ridge at 5:15 p.m., and Tumwater vs. North Thurston at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Yelm plays Tumwater at 5:15 p.m., and River Ridge faces North Thurston at 7 p.m.
Les Schwab Invitational
At Liberty High School, Hillsboro, Ore.
Friday’s first-round games
Central Catholic (Ore.) vs. Tigard (Ore.), 9 a.m.
Jefferson (Ore.) vs. Lake Oswego (Ore.), 10:30 a.m.
Churchill (Ore.) vs. Sunset (Ore.), noon
Timberline vs. Jesuit (Ore.), 1:30 p.m.
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) vs. Beaverton (Ore.), 4 p.m.
South Eugene (Ore.) vs. West Linn (Ore.), 5:30 p.m.
Whitney Young (Chicago) vs. Clackamas (Ore.), 7 p.m.
Rainier Beach (Seattle) vs. Grant (Ore.), 8:30 p.m.
North Thurston Holiday Tournament
Friday-Saturday, North Thurston High School
Yelm vs. River Ridge, 5:15 p.m.
Tumwater vs. North Thurston, 7 p.m.
Yelm vs. Tumwater, 5:15 p.m.
River Ridge vs. North Thurston, 7 p.m.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick