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Highlanders draw powerful Rainier Beach

Mon., March 3, 2014

Don’t offer any condolences to Shadle Park boys basketball coach Tim Gaebe.

He doesn’t want them. Besides, he has much to be grateful about, what with his Highlanders bound for Tacoma and the State 3A tournament, which begins Thursday.

Just because Shadle Park (10-13) drew Rainier Beach (26-0) – the heavy favorite, No. 1-ranked team and defending state champ – makes no never mind to him.

“We were planning on playing them sometime,” Gaebe said moments before boarding a flight back to Spokane after attending the tourney draw earlier Sunday afternoon. “We just got them sooner than expected.”

And maybe there’s hope, too. The last time Rainier Beach went against a team with a losing record at state – 1992-93, against White River – it lost.

Shadle takes on Rainier Beach in the final 3A opener. Tipoff is at 2.

Earlier, University (15-9), making its third straight trip to state, faces Eastside Catholic (21-5) at 10:30 a.m.

“Everybody talks about how great a team they are but we’re optimistic,” Gaebe said. “We’ve played some good teams – Gonzaga Prep, Central Valley, Ferris and Richland. We’ll have to play an exceptional game to upset them. We’re going to be prepared and give it the best shot we can.”

Shadle Park is making its fourth trip to state in seven years.

“They’re obviously a very good team,” Gaebe said. “We’re not bad either. But I’m a realist too. I know we have to play well. It’ll be a great experience. I just hope we go over and play well.”

In 3A girls, University (10-14), also making its third consecutive trip to state, meets Bishop Blanchet (20-5) in the evening session at 7:15.

Most wouldn’t have given the Titans much of a chance to get to Tacoma. They had to face Kamiakin for a third time in regionals on Saturday after they lost a nonleague game in December and fell in the subregional.

But U-Hi put together a solid game, knocking off Kamiakin 61-55 at Richland.

“We were more aggressive and we didn’t have anything to lose,” U-Hi coach Mark Stinson said. “They were supposed to win. It was one of our best games for sure.”

Stinson praised Ashley Wood, who went off for 20 points for the second time this postseason, and point guard Emma Kennedy, who got the ball up court against Kamiakin’s pressure.

“Our seniors were solid,” Stinson said. “They kind of know what the playoffs are all about.”

It’s generally thought that this could be the U-Hi boys’ and girls’ last trip to state for a while, considering the school moves up to 4A next year.

“That might be the case, so we’ll enjoy this,” Stinson said.

• The 4A tournament begins Thursday in Tacoma.

In the boys tournament, Gonzaga Prep faces Todd Beamer at 7:15.

In the girls, Gonzaga Prep meets Skyview of Vancouver at 10:30 a.m.

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