Six high school basketball teams from Thurston and Lewis counties will compete in the state regionals Friday and Saturday.
Each team’s WIAA RPI rankings are listed in parentheses, with teams Nos. 1-8 guaranteed a trip to tournament sites.
Everything you need to know about the matchups and stakes of each game:
3A BOYS REGIONALS
NO. 5 TIMBERLINE (19-5) VS. NO. 6 KELSO (20-4)
Noon Saturday at Battle Ground High School
About the Blazers (5): Wichita State signee Erik Stevenson (23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds per game) has the ability to take over a game — and just might have to against a relentless Kelso squad. Guards Eli Morton (13.3 points, 4.9 assists) and Casson Rouse (9.3 points) complement Stevenson well and often trigger turnovers as part of Timberline’s high-pressure defense. Using their athleticism to keep Kelso off-balance could be the biggest key for the Blazers, coach Allen Thomas says.
About the Hilanders (4): Four schools from the South Sound have lost to this versatile Kelso team in the past two weeks — including the 3A South Sound Conference and undefeated 3A Pierce County League champions. Shaw Anderson, at 6-foot-5, is a matchup problem with his presence in the paint and ability to shoot outside. Pair his 21.8 points per game with reliable perimeter shooters Riley Noah (13.2) and Emmitt Kinch (10.7), and the Hilanders are a tough out.
NO. 7 SEATTLE PREP (16-10) VS. NO. 8 NORTH THURSTON (21-3)
4 p.m. Saturday at Tumwater High School
About the Panthers (13): Based on momentum, North Thurston may have the toughest draw in the 3A regionals. Within the span of one week, the Panthers ended state-favorite Garfield’s undefeated streak, then turned around and beat perennial powerhouse Rainier Beach. Nic Lynch, a 6-foot-11 center committed to Lehigh University, is a monster inside for Seattle Prep, averaging 16.4 points per game, while Nikola Trifunovic (12 points per game) consistently threatens from the 3-point line.
About the Rams (12): The duo of Jeremy Spencer (21.5 points per game) and Clay Christian (20.2) will need to turn in a good shooting night to keep up with the Panthers, and have proven plenty reliable in big situations this season. But coach Tim Brown says North Thurston’s defensive effort will play a more pivotal role. Without the size Seattle Prep has, it will take defense by committee to pin down Lynch, and if the Rams can control the boards and get out in transition, it could provide an advantage.
2A BOYS REGIONALS
NO. 9 W.F. WEST (21-3) VS. NO. 4 LYNDEN (18-6)
6 p.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon High School
About the Bearcats (8): W.F. West is in the regionals for the first time since 2008 after rallying to take third in the 2A Southwest District tournament. The Bearcats have won 16 of their past 17 games, including an undefeated run through the 2A Evergreen Conference this season. Bailey Cooper paces the Bearcats with 12.5 points per game, while Jordan Thomas nearly matches him with 12.3. And center Brandon White (10.9 points per game) adds a big presence in the paint at 6-foot-8.
About the Lions (1): Lynden has left Yakima with a third-place trophy the past two seasons, and hasn’t missed the state tournament since 2011. The Lions, who were the runners-up in their bidistrict tournament up north, consistently churn out lengthy, physical teams who tend to rough up state tournament teams. Christian Zamora, a 6-foot-4 guard, is a dangerous scorer, while 6-foot-5 forward Clayton Whitman is back from an injury.
2A GIRLS REGIONALS
LYNDEN (17-7) VS. NO. 1 W.F. WEST (21-2)
6 p.m. Friday at Tumwater High School
About the Lions (7): Elisa Kooiman — last year’s state tournament MVP, and Lynden’s leading scorer — graduated. But, don’t let the seven losses this season fool you — Lynden, the defending 2A state champion, is always a tough team to beat in the playoffs. The Lions have won eight of their last nine games on their way to a third-place finish in their bidistrict tournament, and have taken home trophies from Yakima six of the past seven years.
About the Bearcats (2): In the 18 games W.F. West has played against teams in 2A this season, they are undefeated and have built an average margin of victory of 45.8 points, which doesn’t appear to be dipping. The Lions knocked the Bearcats out of state title contention in the semifinals last season, but W.F. West returned much of its roster, paced by gritty guards Kiara Steen (13 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 steals per game) and Julia Johnson (11.1 points, 2.9 steals), and have a strong inside presence with 6-foot-3 forward Erika Brumfield (13.3 points, 9.2 rebounds), who has recorded 36 blocks this season.
LIBERTY (14-11) VS. NO. 6 BLACK HILLS (18-5)
8 p.m. Friday at Tumwater High School
About the Patriots (16): Lynden topped Liberty twice in their bidistrict tournament, leaving the Patriots with a fourth-place finish, and the final state regionals berth. Liberty has a pair of shooters who could be trouble in leading scorer Sydney Argosino (18.5 points per game, 40 percent from 3-point range) and freshman Devynn Warns (15.4). Liberty was bumped from its last trip to the state regionals by Lynden in 2016. Prior to that, the Patriots hadn’t advanced to the state playoffs since 2000 — when they lost to Black Hills in the first round.
About the Wolves (9): This season, Black Hills needs a regional win to return to Yakima for the third consecutive season. A third loss to 2A Evergreen Conference rival W.F. West in the 2A Southwest District title game left the Wolves just short of a guaranteed trip, finishing at No. 9 in the RPI rankings. But, with 6-foot forward Maisy Williams back in rhythm after two mouth injuries, and guards Lindsey Nurmi (12.3 points per game) and Megan River (10.8) continuing to produce, Black Hills appears in position to make another trip east.
1B BOYS REGIONALS
POPE JOHN PAUL II (14-12) VS. TULALIP HERITAGE (21-6)
2 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School (Mill Creek)
About the Eagles (14): This is the first trip to the state regionals in school history for Pope John Paul II, which opened in 2010. The Eagles nabbed the No. 5 seed out of the 1B Tridistrict tournament behind leading scorer Ibi Ceesay (16.5 points per game), who is also a wide receiver for Olympia football during the fall. Following Ceesay, the Eagles have a balanced scoring attack which includes Patrick O’Shell (8.2), Jay Sullivan (7.8) and Tim Sellars (7.2).
About the Hawks (11): Tulalip Heritage has already beaten Pope John Paul II once this season, 50-44, at home in Marysville. The Hawks finished fourth in the 1B Tridistrict tournament after an early loss to top-seeded Muckleshoot Tribal, and are plenty familiar with the state playoffs. All six of Tulalip Heritage’s state-playoff appearances have come in the last 12 years, including a school-best runner-up finish to Sunnyside Christian in 2007.