Whatever you want to call it — the round of 16, regionals or just the new high school basketball playoff system the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has adopted — it has arrived.
Win this week, and advance to a state tournament site in Tacoma, Yakima or Spokane.
Lose, and your basketball season is over.
After much deliberation Sunday, the WIAA revealed all regional matchups, sites, game dates and start times.
“First of all, we were able to meet what the member schools asked us to address, and that was keeping a host (No. 1 seed) school out of its home gym,” WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said. “And the other thing we were asked was, in most cases, to eliminate the extreme travel.
“It was very challenging, and it was a long day. But I feel real positive about it.”
For basketball nuts, four local high school gyms — Auburn, Kent-Meridian, Mount Tahoma and Puyallup — will be hosting regional games Friday and Saturday.
Good news for city-basketball fans — Lincoln and Wilson will not be leaving Tacoma. The Abes’ boys and girls play Friday night at Mount Tahoma, and the Rams play a day later on the same court.
At Puyallup, both Beamer squads will play Saturday afternoon, followed by the White River boys and girls in the early evening.
Looking at specific games, the marquee matchup will take place Friday when the No. 5 Lincoln boys, fresh off capturing the West Central District championship over Wilson, take on No. 4 Bellevue at 8 p.m.
“They’re deep, strong and big,” Abes coach Aubrey Shelton said. “They have five or six guys who score ... and multiple guys who can shoot the 3-pointer. It is a tough team, and we are really going to have to defend them.”
It also might seem unfair that two top-five Class 3A programs play each other this early. The regional brackets for each classification were pre-determined based on district seeding and released near the end of the regular season.
Shelton does not like the system and would like to see all round-of-16 games go back to a controlled-draw process.
“Bellevue is one of the best four or five teams in the state,” Shelton said. “Thankfully the game is at Mount Tahoma, so it is a local game for us.”
Defending Class 4A state champion Curtis will be on the road. As the WCD’s No. 7 seed, the Vikings take on Big Nine runner-up Wenatchee at 2 p.m. Saturday at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake.
Stadium, the 4A Narrows champion that finished with the No. 4 seed from districts, also has to travel — to Everett Community College to take on top-ranked Jackson on Friday night.
“They shoot it well and get good guard play,” Tigers coach Doug Cocke’ said. “But with our defense, and if we execute, we will be all right.”
On the girls side, No. 9 White River also gets to play another top-10 team — eighth-ranked Black Hills — on Saturday in Puyallup. The Hornets defeated Sumner on Saturday, 48-45 in overtime, to win the WCD 2A title.
“Their district had four teams in the top 10 all year long,” White River coach Chris Gibson said. “Nobody ever really gets excited about playing District IV teams. They are tough. They are battle-tested.
“We expect to see a really good basketball team Saturday night.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com