F Brittany McPhee, Mount Rainier, 6-0, junior
26.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists
G Brooke Pahukoa, Lake Stevens, 5-9, senior
19.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals
G Sarah Toeaina, Kentwood, 5-10, junior
19.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals
G Jade Redmond, Mead, 5-7, senior
15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists
C Otiona Gildon, Gonzaga Prep, 6-1, sophomore
15.4 points, 9.3 rebounds
1. Mead (22-1): The Greater Spokane League-winning Panthers are making their first trip to state since 2010, when they lost in the finals. They come in as the favorites with their best chance to win it all since 1996. But to do it, they’ll have to go through the toughest bracket, which includes No. 2 ranked Mount Rainier. Senior Jade Redmond and junior Delaney Junkermier (14.3 ppg) lead a strong starting-five that uses turnovers to set up fastbreak opportunities.
2. Mount Rainier (25-1): Two years ago with this nucleus of players, the Rams went two-and-out at state. Last season, they finished third. Is this the year they bring home the big trophy? Everything runs through talented forward Brittany McPhee, who has an uncanny knack of working through creases in a defense to find better shots. Throw in the contributions of twin sister Jordan (11.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) at point guard, and forward Emily Fiso on the inside and the Rams could be very dangerous.
3. Gonzaga Prep (23-3): The Bullpups had some bad luck this season in losing their best player, Southern Utah-bound Madison Wright, to an ACL injury. All three of their losses came against Mead. The Bullpups spread out their offense and rely heavily on their guards and quick transitions to score. Six-foot sophomore post Otiona Gildon has been the focal-point since Wright’s injury and will need to step up.
4. Inglemoor (21-2): The KingCo champion Vikings might have the deepest roster of the eight schools heading to Tacoma — they will play up to 10 girls and will attack from anywhere on the court. They have two tall post players in 6-4 sophomore Deja Strothers (15 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blkpg) and 6-3 sophomore Kennedy Nichols. Kelly Conroy (15 ppg) is the outside threat for Inglemoor as she averages better than 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
5. Skyline (20-5): These Spartans are different than previous teams – better conditioning has led to a relatively injury-free season. They have the KingCo MVP and Colorado-bound Haley Smith (12.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) who’s a do-it-all wing. The Spartans are unselfish and utilize solid court vision to set up the best shot. If they need to go outside, senior Lacey Nichols (8.5 ppg) is their best spot-up shooter and senior Rachel Shim (9.7 ppg) has the ability to create space from defenders.
6. Arlington (20-4): The Eagles are an older team — they come in with six seniors after graduating six players last year. They will use their point guards to push the ball up the floor but will look to settle down in the half-court offense. Three-year captain and Idaho State-bound Lindsay Brown (13 ppg, 10 rpg) provides the intensity and focus.
7. Kentwood (19-7): Play as a team, limit turnovers and play tough defense is the Conquerors’ motto. They are led by senior-guard Sarah Toeaina, who was on The News Tribune’s All-Area second team. Senior Kylee Ashley has been a beast on defense, setting a single-game school record with eight blocked shots in a win over Skyview two weeks ago. Ashley Rolsma was quiet at the beginning of the year but has been a solid option lately.
8. Lake Stevens (19-7): The Vikings lost at regionals last year to the eventual state champion Skyview. That loss, and having to play through the schools toughest schedule in eight seasons, has the Vikings ready. Boise State-bound Brooke Pahukoa is finally getting healthy from a dislocated pinky that sidelined her for seven games. Brooke’s identical twin sister, Brittney (10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.2 spg), who’s also heading to Boise State, sets the tone for the Vikings’ offense. Kali Long (9.1 ppg) might be the Vikings, most significant player as she’ll provide a third scoring option.Kevin Manning, staff writer