Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 33° Partly Cloudy

SportsLink

The final weekend of high school hoop is upon us

Junior guard Shaye Swannack, left, and her freshman sister Sienna combined to average 15 points per game for the 22-1 Lakeside Eagles. (Colin Mulvany)
Junior guard Shaye Swannack, left, and her freshman sister Sienna combined to average 15 points per game for the 22-1 Lakeside Eagles. (Colin Mulvany)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There are quite a few subjects we could explore this morning, everything from NFL free agency to the M's to fixing college basketball – as if it needs it. But instead we make our once-a-year plea to have you support the State high school basketball tournaments. Read on.

••••••••••

• My first state basketball tournament in Washington came back in 1984, I think. I'm not exactly sure. It could have been 1985. I know I missed the B tournament in 1983, because I started at The Spokesman-Review in early April that year and the B had already come and gone. So had winter, thank goodness. I do believe Jeff Jordan hauled me over to the old Coliseum in '84 and did his level best to talk me into a German sausage for breakfast, a staple of the Bs back then – and, for those whose stomachs can handle it, probably still is. For years I traveled across the state, either to Seattle or Tacoma, to take in state hoops, either covering games or just as a fan. And the B? I tried to get there at least once a year, walking across the park when the weather was nice, as is usually the case. Yes, the state tournaments were different. They included 16 teams for the boys and 16 for the girls. They started on Wednesday and ended Saturday night. Games were oft-times crowded and exciting and other times empty and boring. Over the years the crowds have diminished and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which relies on the state tournaments for a good deal of its revenue, has made changes. The first thing that hurt, as far as I can tell, was the membership adding more classifications. Splitting the B into two and adding the 4A meant when once there were four tournaments spread over two weekends, all of a sudden there were six. The high school basketball fan – as opposed to those who follow just one school – was pulled in more directions. But that was a minor factor. Why the attendance began to fall probably has a more societal-based cause than anything to do with basketball per se. But it began to fall. And that meant changes had to be made. With revenue down, costs had to fall as well or the WIAA's finances would suffer irreparable harm. Now whether or not the changes the organization instituted were the best ones to make, that's arguable. I'm not a big fan of the dilution of the championships, though I understand the argument of giving more players a chance to hoist a gold ball. The eight-team tournaments haven't been met with a lot of hallelujahs, that's for sure. They did, however, allow for the Bs to be reunited – sort of – in the Arena and for just one weekend of state finals – again, not necessarily a good thing if you would like to catch more than one tournament. Whatever your feelings about the changes, the game on the court is still worth watching, the players still worth supporting. So if you are in Spokane or Tacoma or Yakima this weekend, spend some time at the arenas. Watch, cheer (pick a team if you don't have a horse in the race and support them) and enjoy. Despite all the problems and the grumbling, state basketball tournaments are still something special.

•••

• WSU: The Pac-12 regular season for the men winds down this weekend, with senior days being held around half the campuses. One of them is Washington State, where Jacob Thorpe will be in attendance as the Cougars say goodbye to their seniors. He has a story detailing the group and its contributions. One of those seniors, DaVonté Lacy spoke with Jacob, who posted the video. ... Jacob also has a weekend preview for the games vs. Utah and Colorado. ... Jacob transcribed Ernie Kent's weekly press conference and put it on the blog. ... There is also the morning post as well. ... The women begin their postseason tournament today in Seattle. Tom Clouse has an advance of the Cougars' matchup with Oregon, coached by former Gonzaga head man Kelly Graves. ... Jon Wilner continues his examination of the Pac-12's finances.

• Gonzaga: The WCC tournament is about to get underway in Las Vegas, though the Zag men don't play until Saturday. As Jim Meehan writes in this notebook, Mark Few is looking for his team to rediscover its aggressiveness. ... Jim also has a preview of the week ahead. ... There is a preview of the WCC tournament on ESPN.com and from Bud Withers in the Times as well. ... The women also will be in action, with BYU hoping to pull an upset or two to make the NCAA tournament.

• EWU: Finally, the Eagles are healthy. For the final week of the regular season. Jim Allen has the story and a preview concerning what's ahead for the Eagles as the hit the road to Idaho State and Weber State. 

• Idaho: The Vandals are making the same trip and Sean Kramer has a preview.

• Chiefs: With the B tournaments this weekend, the Chiefs played Tuesday night. However, Tri-City played on the regular WHL night, taking a key victory against Vancouver.

• Shock: Believe it or not, the Shock players are beginning to arrive and prepare for the Arena season.

• Preps: We have preview of all the local State tournament participants, with Greg Lee kicking it off with his story on Gonzaga Prep trying to defend its 4A girls title. ... The Clarkston boys and the East Valley girls will be in action at the 2A tournament. ... Jim Allen has this preview of Lakeside's 1A tournament. ... Greg has the 2B girls preview while Tom previews the 2B boys. ... The 1B girls preview is the property of Chris Derrick. ... In Idaho, the top-ranked Post Falls boys will attempt to win another 5A title. Greg has the preview. ... I am passing along these stories on Oregon's win over Oregon State last night here only because I do believe somewhere Wayne Gilman is smiling over his former player's decision.

• Seahawks: You can expect free agent news to dominate the agenda for the next few weeks, with Seattle seemingly chasing after a defensive back or two. ... Of course, Russell Wilson spending time in the Texas Rangers camp will be met with some teeth gnashing.

• Mariners: The exhibition games began yesterday with the M's winning 4-3 in 10 innings. The good? Taijuan Walker pitched two solid innings, D.J. Peterson hit a home run and the M's rallied to win. The bad? A minor league player broke his leg. ... Felix Hernandez faced hitters in live batting practice yesterday and felt great about it.

• Sounders: Peace in our time. Labor peace, that is. The specter of a strike loomed over the final days of training but it didn't happen. The MLS and its players reached an agreement yesterday.

•••

• I'll be back on the radio today (and tomorrow), joining Dennis Patchin and Keith Osso on 700 ESPN. We'll follow the M's game and go until around 5:40, when it's time for Eastern basketball. You can listen here if you want. Until then ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Follow Vince online:






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.