The building is new, but the tradition is unchanged. The Garfield-Palouse Vikings still play so hard that it almost hurts to watch.
But there was something new in Gar-Pal’s 65-48 steamroller of a Wednesday night opening win in the 54th boys State B tournament.
The other guys - the Tacoma Baptist Crusaders - played just as hard.
And with a size advantage - junior Adrian Russell is 6-foot-8, sophomore Aaron Meyers is a strong 6-5 and 6-1 Ivory Crittendon III is one of the finest athletes in the tournament - Tacoma Baptist was a formidable opener.
Physical toughness? No difference.
Mental toughness? Big difference.
With a half-court trap, the Vikings kept Tacoma Baptist scrambling. Attacking the ball, they all but took away the inside lob. They gave up nothing but the 3-point shot. Tacoma Baptist obliged, launching 20 3-pointers. Two found the range. At the other end, the Vikes ran variations of the flex offense, setting tough picks and splitting the Crusaders for easy shots.
“It’s bright out there,” said Gar-Pal coach Tim Coles, who has his team here for the 10th time in 11 seasons. “It’s really bright and the rims are unforgiving. We shot 61 percent (actually 57 percent, but why quibble?), which I’ll bet a lot of teams didn’t shoot up here.”
The dividend of experience
Establishing a quick tempo with an effective press and break, the Kittitas Coyotes got off to a great start in beating Waitsburg’s rallying Cardinals.
State tournament experience was a key.
“At the start, I think you could tell that we’d been here before and they hadn’t,” Kittitas coach Tim Ravet said. “They were a little hesitant coming out, breaking the press. They made some foolish passes. But in the second half, their guards did a good job of getting it by our guards and up into their big guys’ hands.”
Jim Hill, the Coyotes’ 6-4 senior guard, scored seven of his team’s last 11 points.
“They went box and one (zone defense) but at the end they had to come out in man-to-man,” Ravet said. “Once they did, Jimmy is pretty tough to stop one-on-one. When they were box-and-one, they were getting a lot of help (on Hill) and shutting him down. When they had to go back to man, he was getting good picks and opening up for good shots.”
As for Smith’s availability in today’s quarterfinal with Clallam Bay, Ravet said, “He’s limping. Now it’s gut-check time.”
So much for impressing scouts
From the grim visage she carried out of the locker room, it was hard to tell that Jennifer Mountain was the winning coach in St. George’s 49-47 win over Orcas Island and its 6-6, 6-6 and 6-5 front line.
The coach lightened up when she thought about what effect her club’s 33 percent field-goal shooting and 39 percent free-throw accuracy might have on tonight’s opponent, the upset-driven Clallam Bay Bruins.
“At least if anybody’s scouting us they don’t think we can shoot the ball very well,” she laughed.
Orcas Island’s perimeter shooter Reggie Harris is a freshman summoned from the JV in time to score three points prior to state. But the long-armed 6-footer who wears size 14 shoes - a size for each of his 14 years - was 4 for 5 from 3-point range on his way to - what else? - 14 points. Asked if he was intimidated, playing against upper-classmen in the Arena, Harris shook his head. Asked if he felt at home Harris nodded. Pressed for comment, he said “I was just open. I was just open so I shot.”