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The state’s high school basketball championships, Hardwood Classic, opens today and goes through Saturday with area teams Sequim and Neah Bay looking to bring home trophies.
The 2A Wolves needed to pack their track shoes against first-round opponent Renton, while the speedy 1B Red Devils always travel with their track shoes handy.
Sequim (21-4), the Olympic League co-champion, opens state against the Indians, 23-2 and the Seamount League champion, at 10:30 this morning at the Yakima Valley SunDome in Yakima.
The winner advances to the semifinals against the Pullman (24-1) and Burlington-Edison (17-8) winner Friday at 3:45 p.m. The semifinal winner moves on to the championship game at 9 p.m. Saturday.
All teams that win first-round games today will earn trophies.
“We definitely want to come home with a trophy, but our focus is to take it one game at a time,” Sequim coach Greg Glasser said.
“Right now, our focus is on Renton.”
And that’s where the track shoes come in.
The Indians are not physically imposing but they play very good relentless basketball.
“They will play 32 minutes of up-tempo basketball where they go up and down the court all game long,” Glasser said.
“We will have to go a little deeper on the court than we usually do.”
Glasser will be expecting more from his reserve players against Renton, especially from 6-foot-5 junior post Erik Christensen, a transfer, and 5-7 senior guard Donovan Lee, who both have been coming on in recent games.
The Wolves will get taller (with Christensen) and faster (with Lee) when their bench on the floor.
“We will get quicker off the bench,” Glasser said.
Lee will add speed to the point guard position.
On the other hand, Sequim’s all-Olympic League first team star Jayson Brocklesby is a state-class sprinter and jumper.
Brocklesby has the school records of the 400-meter sprint, the 4x100 relay and the high jump.
He also was second fastest last spring on the North Olympic Peninsula in the 100 meters.
Against Renton, the Wolves have the height advantage.
Brocklesby, 6-2, leads the team with 20.8 points per game while 6-4 Gabe Carter, another first-team all-league selection, is second in scoring with 11.4 points per game.
Carter also is a superb all-around player.
He is the school’s all-time leading rebounder and has 187 boards on the year, or 7.5 per game, and he also has 1.2 blocks per game, 6.6 assists per game and 2.4 steals per game, all team highs.
“Carter has been playing really well,” Glasser said.
In fact, the Wolves have been peaking at the right time and have been playing well as a team in recent weeks.
Renton counters with a short but up-tempo team that has been playing on all cylinders.
The Indians’ top player is 6-2 senior Jonathan Patterson, the Seamount League MVP who has been scoring 13.5 points per game.
The Seattle Times published a story Tuesday on the Renton team that said Patterson was cut from the program his freshman year because he wasn’t good enough for the JV team. There was no C squad in the program that season.
According to the story, Patterson began working on the team in the offseason and improved to the point where he not only became the top player in the program but the best athlete in the league.
Glasser remembers Patterson from when Sequim played Renton two years ago.
“He must have had a heck of an offseason because he was playing for the varsity team his sophomore year when we played them two years ago,” Glasser said.
Ironically, while Patterson was receiving Seamount MVP honors with a 13.5 scoring average, Brocklesby was snubbed for the Olympic League MVP award despite scoring 20.8 per contest.
“Jayson would be the first person to take a trip to state over league MVP,” Glasser said.
In a surprise move, co-champion Olympic senior Quentin Phillips nosed out Brocklesby for league MVP. The Trojans never made it past regionals.
Three of the eight 2A teams at state placed in last year’s tournament.
Defending champion Lynden (23-1) and fourth-place Clover Park (19-6) are in the lower bracket while sixth-place Pullman (24-1) is in the upper bracket with Sequim.
Clover Park defeated the Wolves for the West Central District championship.
Sequim is heading to state completely healthy from illness or physical injury.
“I’m the only one sick on the team right now,” Glasser said. “And I prefer it that way.
“It paid off when we took that Monday off.”
Because of illness going through the team, the Wolves conceded the league’s No. 1 district seed to Olympic in order to cancel a playoff game with the Trojans two Mondays ago rather than play with a team that was less than 100 percent.
Neah Bay at state
SPOKANE — The Red Devils (15-2) are taking on the Taholah Chitwins (9-2) in the 1B state first round today at 9 p.m. in Spokane Arena.
Like 2A Renton, Neah Bay likes to play an up-tempo style to take advantage of its speed.
But it all starts with defense for the Red Devils, Neah Bay coach Gerrad Brooks said.
Neah Bay uses strong defense to jump-start its offense.
“We make it a track meet,” Brooks said earlier this week.
“We are blessed with a lot of athletic kids, who are excited for another opportunity at state.
“We’re looking forward to getting at it.”
Neah Bay, which captured third at state last year, is the highest-placed team returning to state.
Sunnyside Christian, which took fourth at state last year, is the only other 2013 team that placed in 2012.
Sunnyside (20-2) is in the bracket opposite of the Red Devils.
If Neah Bay wins tonight, it will advance to the semifinals against the LaCrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus (19-5) and Soap Lake (18-4) winner Friday at 9 p.m.
The semifinal winner moves on to the championship game at 5 p.m. on Saturday.