STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
Heather Bowman of Lewis & Clark
Sealth vs. Anacortes
The old axiom that size matters only partially applied in Washington state high-school girl's basketball this season. Defense also greatly mattered on the elite level. So did coaching and guard play.
Both the State 4A and 3A tournaments demonstrated that superior size was not a ticket to waltzing to a championship. Issaquah, which had no size of note, finished a fraction of an inch off on a last-second shot from taking down lots-bigger Chief Sealth in the 3A championship game. Lewis and Clark was not bigger, but the Tigers were a lot better than Prairie in the 4A title tilt.
Because of the way the past two weeks played out, we'd take Lewis and Clark in a hypothetical matchup against Chief Sealth and therefore have the Tigers No. 1 in our final HoopGurlz.com Elite Eleven team rankings. With 6-foot-2, Gonzaga-bound Heather Bowman and 6-foot wing Katelan Redmon, Lewis and Clark is not as big as Sealth, but isn't tiny, either. Plus the Tigers get excellent coaching from Redmon's uncle, Jim, and have a trio of swift and physical guards who neutralized opposing backcourt stars as well as made it difficult for opponents to fully utilize their inside players.
Chelsey Porter of Prairie
Lewis and Clark further demonstrated an ability to influence the tempo of the game either way, whether it was pressuring to quicken the pace, or ability to slug it out in halfcourt settings at either end. In the long haul, that versatility is critical.
Sealth did not lose a game all season, but here and there revealed a vulnerability to defensive pressure. It wasn't until the 3A tournament that a couple of teams, Anacortes and Issaquah, tried to pressure an entire game, and the Seahawks nearly buckled. While Sealth players demonstrated oodles of talent, they did not show an abundance of court sense and the team's inability to make adjustments on the fly was another weakness.
We'd be highly interested in seeing Sealth also match up against Prairie, another team with a big front line and excellent guards. The Falcons simply encountered its nightmare scenario in the 4A championship. Katie Madison's two early offensive fouls robbed Prairie of a physical dimension and, lacking overall speed outside of its two starting guards, the Falcons can't really extend its defense, and an early deficit doomed them to a difficult evening.
The personality of Prairie will change as its huge front line graduates and the keys to the team gets thrown to creative and cocksure Ashley Corral, with assistance from Chelsey Porter, a versatile, 5-11 wing who has been the Falcons' top reserve the past two seasons.
University checks in at No. 4 because Angie Bjorklund likely will be the best girl's basketball player to come out of the state since Sheila Lambert. And she is so good that University defies the usual fate of largely one-player-dominated teams. After Kentwood's brilliant diamond-and-one defense against Bjorklund, Prairie and Auburn Riverside followed up by matching smaller but quicker guards against the Tennessee-committed junior. Bjorklund, who has been able to out-leap and out-muscle most wings and guards, not has a challenge to meet in preparation for exceling at the next level.
Amanda Thompson of Kentwood
closely defends Angie Bjorklund
Issaquah, which played the best small ball in the state, is No. 5, while Eisenhower is No. 6 with the postscript that things could have been a lot different had Marianne Lombardi, its Nevada-bound forward, had been able to play in the 4A tournament. Led by Washington-bound Sara Mosiman, King's romped to a second straight 2A title and beat some quality 3A and 4A teams and is our No. 7 team.
Auburn Riverside and Woodinville, a couple teams that had extremely good guard play and three-point shooting all year, are Nos. 8 and 9, and Lincoln, a very talented but ultimately disappointing team, is next at No. 10.
Our 11th and final team is one that did not compete in a state tournament. The Eastern Region was allocating one fewer 4A berth this year and it cost Gonzaga Prep, a team very much like Issaquah that is led by the state's most versatile player in Tara Cronin. University coach Mark Stinson says the Bullpups would have placed in the 4A tournament this year, and we agree.
Having just 11 slots, we regretably had to drop Kentwood, a team we think very well could head the rankings next year, and wish we had room for Anacortes, a team that had a little bit of size, but a lot of speed, versatility and heart.
The HoopGurlz.com Elite Eleven high-school girls basketball team rankings are featured on KING-TV's Sports Blitz and The Seattle Times.
Click Here to Discuss High School Rankings
|HoopGurlz.com Elite Eleven|
|Washington State's Top Teams Without Regard to Classification|
Records through Saturday, March 11
|1. Lewis & Clark (4A) Record: 26-4 Last week: 9|
Comment: Most defensively impressive team in the state
|2. Chief Sealth (3A) Record: 29-0 Last week: 1|
Comment: Will stay in the news because of recruiting scandal
|3. Prairie (4A) Record: 26-3 Last week: 4|
Comment: Loses entire front line to graduation
|4. University (4A) Record: 25-3 Last week: 2|
Comment: State's best player, Angie Bjorklund, has one more year
|5. Issaquah (3A) Record: 23-6 Last week: 6|
Comment: Defense, team approach are very impressive
|6. Eisenhower (4A) Record: 29-2 Last week: 10|
Comment: Losing Marianne Lombardi has us, them asking what-if
|7. King's (2A) Record: 26-2 Last Week: 8|
Comment: Won four routs en route to second straight 2A title
|8. Auburn Riverside (4A) Record: 22-7 Last week: 7|
Comment: Played East's Big Three (L&C, University, Ike) at State 4A
|9. Woodinville (4A) Record: 24-3 Last week: 5|
Comment: Blitz by Prairie only misstep at State 4A
|10. Lincoln (4A) Record: 25-3 Last week: 3|
Comment: A disappointing, uninspired showing at State 4A
|11. Gonzaga Prep (4A) Record: 21-5 Last week: NR|
Comment: University's Mark Stinson says Bullpups would have placed at State 4A
Dropped: Kentwood (4A) 24-5 (formerly No. 11)
The Wait List
Anacortes (3A) 22-5, Bainbridge (3A) 21-4, Bellevue Christian (1A) 23-2, Black Hills (3A) 19-8, Burlington-Edison (3A) 21-7, Chelan (2A) 25-2, Colfax (1A) 24-4, East Valley (2A) 25-2, Ellensburg (3A) 21-9, Freeman (1A) 22-4, Garfield (4A) 18-6, Gig Harbor (4A) 20-8, Gonzaga Prep (4A) 21-5, Hanford (3A) 21-6, Holy Names (3A) 19-9, Inglemoor (4A) 18-5, Jackson (4A) 22-5, Kennedy (3A) 19-6, Kentwood (4A) 24-5, Lake Stevens (4A) 21-4, Lindbergh (3A) 22-6, Lynden Christian (2A) 24-3, Meadowdale (4A) 23-4, Mount Tahoma (4A) 22-7, Pullman (2A) 21-5, Puyallup (4A) 21-5, River Ridge (3A) 25-3, Roosevelt (4A) 20-7, Seattle Prep (3A) 17-15, Sehome (3A) 20-7, Tumwater (3A) 17-9, White Pass (1A) 25-2, White River (3A) 20-7
New to list in bold
Previous Elite Eleven Rankings
March 6: You Go, Girls
Feb. 27: A What-If 3A
Feb. 21: 4A Projections
Feb. 13: 3A Projections
Feb. 6: Kneed to Know
Jan 30: Tenuous Team
Jan 23: Running It Up
Jan 17: Class (4A) Bias
Jan. 9: Tests Loom
Jan. 2: Mostly Cloudy
Dec. 26: Time for Adjustments
Dec. 19: Abes-Bulldogs Redux
Dec. 12: No Hope for 2A, 1A?
Dec. 4: Bulldogs Left Waiting
Nov. 21: Prairie Tops Debut Rankings
Click Here for Our Full 4A Tournament Coverage Menu
Click Here for Our Full 3A Tournament Coverage Menu
Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media
(www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company
and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls
basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle Times. His
work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA"
(Rosen Publishing, 2002). Glenn can be contacted by writing HoopGurlz@comcast.net.
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