BASKETBALL PLAYOFF UPDATE: Now we’re down to six

And now we’re down to six.

Just six prep basketball teams remain alive in the postseason, with three teams playing with their backs to the wall.

Port Angeles girls

The Port Angeles girls, not only league champions but undefeated in the Olympic League 2A Division, have the simplest playoff scenario. The Roughriders have already qualified for regionals with a first-round West Central District III playoff win over Eatonville last week.

The Roughriders (12-0, 17-4), an incredible defensive team, play Franklin Pierce at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rogers High School in Puyallup. Win and the Roughriders move on to the WCD III championship game Saturday against either Fife or North Kitsap. Lose and they go to the third-place game against the loser of Fife and North Kitsap.

More importantly, if the Riders keep winning, they might improve their Ratings Percentage Index number, which could bump them into the top eight in the state. That’s important in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s somewhat convoluted state tournament seeding system.

If a team makes the top 8, it automatically qualifies for the state tournament in the Sun Dome in Yakima. That team still has to play a Regionals game, but that game becomes purely for seeding in the state tournament.

Confused? Good. It’s a big club.

Right now, the Port Angeles girls are ranked No. 9 in the RPI. Winning out at the district tournament maybe bumps them up into an automatic state tournament berth.

Port Angeles boys

The boys have been here before. Having to win to make state. Is this the year Kasey Ulin finally carries the Riders to state? They’ve been oh-so-close before.

The Riders won their district playoff opener over Fife, but narrowly lost to Clover Park in their second-round game, putting them in the dreaded consolation bracket. This is the hard way to make state because a team has to win two straight.

The good news is the Riders play a familiar foe, Olympic, at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Curtis High School, across town from the girls’ game that will be played at the same time.

Olympic is a fourth-place team out of the Olympic League 2A Division that barely made the postseason. And Port Angeles beat the Trojans twice this year — 75-39 and 64-42.

Basically, all this means is that the Riders better not take this game for granted because one never knows what’s going to happen in the postseason. The Trojans knocked Port Angeles out of the playoffs last season. But Ulin is right when he pointed out that that was a different year, different team, different players, different story.

If Port Angeles (10-2, 16-6) wins Wednesday, then it gets harder. The Riders will have to play the winner of Foster (10-3, 13-8) and Renton (9-4, 15-8) Friday, two good teams out of the South Puget Sound League. But Port Angeles is good, too. A nightmare on defense. Exceptionally deep for a 2A basketball team and exceptionally tall.

If the Riders win Friday’s game, they move on to regionals and might jump straight to state based on their RPI ranking. Currently, the Riders are ranked No. 7 in the state. But first they have to beat Olympic on Wednesday.

Sequim girls

The Sequim girls, who have had an outstanding season with their only league losses to Port Angeles, are in a similar position to the Port Angeles boys, only slightly more difficult. They have to win two straight at district to make it to regionals and they probably have to beat one very, very good team in the process.

Sequim utterly crushed Foster 92-22 in its district playoff opener, then lost to Fife 61-49 in the second round.

The Wolves (10-2, 16-6) play Kingston at 6 p.m. today. Kingston (5-7, 8-13) doesn’t have a good record and Sequim beat the Bucs 87-42 and 58-44 this year. But as the Port Angeles boys learned last year, you never know what will happen in the postseason.

If Sequim beats Kingston, the Wolves next play at 6 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Orting (5-8, 10-12) and White River (13-0, 20-3). Here’s where the Wolves caught a bad break. White River is the top-ranked team in the WCD III tournament and ranked No. 5 in the state in RPI, but the Hornets fell into the tournament’s consolation bracket because they were upset in the second round by North Kitsap, the third-place team out of the Olympic League 2A. North Kitsap had a somewhat mediocre regular season but has suddenly gotten very hot in the postseason.

White River will likely beat Orting, which puts the Hornets between Sequim and a return trip to state. The Wolves do not have an easy road out of the district tournament.

Forks

The Forks (4-4, 13-8) boys also have to win three straight in the District 4 1A Tournament. The Spartans play Hoquiam (4-4, 8-13) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Montesano High School.

The Spartans, the second-place team in their final season in the Evergreen 1A League, split two games against the Grizzlies this season. If Forks wins, the Spartans have to win another game on Thursday against the loser of a game between La Center (8-2, 15-6) and Stevenson (4-6, 9-12). The Spartans would have to win a third straight game on Saturday to qualify for state as only three teams from the District 4 tournament go to state.

Neah Bay, Clallam Bay

Neah Bay and Clallam Bay girls are both in the Tri-District 1B Tournament.

The Red Devils will play Tulalip Heritage at 6 p.m. today at Port Angeles High School. If Neah Bay wins, the Red Devils will be one of the five teams out of the district taken to state. Neah Bay (9-0, 14-5) got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but have won nine straight and 14 out of 17. The Red Devils are ranked No. 5 in the RPI, so it appears they get to go to state automatically if they get out of the district tournament.

Clallam Bay had to win a play-in game against Cedar Park Christian this weekend to get in the double-elimination part of the tournament. The Bruins play at Tacoma Baptist at 6 p.m. tonight for the opportunity to qualify for regionals.

That’s the primer on the local playoff situation. Expect a pop quiz. Good luck to all the local teams.

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