The River Ridge boys basketball team has become accustomed to state-tournament appearances the past four seasons - all under coach Jeremy Landram.
And the fifth-ranked Hawks’ Class 2A state-quarterfinal matchup against top-ranked Clover Park has some familiarity, too.
Before his arrival at River Ridge in 2006, Landram was an assistant for two seasons at Clover Park under Warriors coach Mel Ninnis – who was a former Timberline assistant in the early 1990s.
That history, combined with the two teams are near copies of each other, should make for an interesting matchup at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Yakima Sundome.
“It’s going to be a really fun first matchup,” Landram said. “We know them extremely well. We’re excited to know River Ridge has never had the opportunity to play a No. 1 team at state.”
Like River Ridge, the Warriors feature lots of team speed and plenty of outside shooters. Senior Tana Pritchard, a Washington State-bound football player who was the 2A South Puget Sound League MVP in football and basketball, is averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots a game. And their backcourt consists of a pair of talented freshmen in Ahmnad Rorie and David Crisp, who each average 15 points and four assists.
“They’re quick, athletic and their basketball IQ is mature for freshmen,” Landram said.
River Ridge stacked its nonleague schedule with tough opponents, including 3A Foss, Lakes and 4A Kentridge and Federal Way in preparation for the Evergreen Conference season and teams it may face in the state tournament.
River Ridge’s side of the bracket is tough. Besides top-ranked Clover Park, the upper half also features second-ranked Grandview and No. 3 Burlington-Edison.
Tumwater, which takes on two-time defending state champion Squalicum at 12:15 p.m., is on the lower half of the bracket, which features No. 4 West Valley of Spokane.
“No matter what, the second games are going to be tough,” Landram said.
On the girls side, an all-too-familiar matchup takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when Tumwater and River Ridge play for the fourth time this season.
River Ridge has had the T-Birds’ number, winning all three games – including a 68-61 victory to win its second consecutive Southwest District IV title.
Three of Tumwater’s four losses have come to the Hawks.
“That will be fun,” River Ridge girls coach Tom Kelly said. “Tumwater is one of the better teams over there.”
Three of the four teams on the opposite side of the bracket are ranked in the top five – including top-ranked Prosser, which River Ridge defeated in last year’s state title game, 57-46. Prosser takes on third-ranked White River at 9 p.m. Thursday and fifth-ranked Lynden, state champion in 2009, faces Chehalis at 7:15 p.m.