Foss High School boys basketball coach Mike Cocke’ said his assistants, brother and whoever else he could scrounge scouted 25 teams last week. But he was confident he wouldn’t have to worry about Rainier Beach or Bellevue — the top two seeds from the Sea-King District.
Cocke’ logged onto his computer about 10 p.m. Saturday night to discover this mystery team Foss would play in the 3A regional round of the state tournament.
Sure enough: No. 7 Foss (19-5) travels to Bellevue College to face No. 2 Bellevue (22-3) in an elimination game at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“I will say I was a little surprised,” Cocke’ said. “We finish third in our district and we get questionably one of the top teams in the state? That was a little bit of a surprise.”
Not that it wasn’t different for this year’s other 3A Narrows powerhouses.
No. 9 Wilson (20-4) beat Lincoln for the 3A West Central/Southwest Bi-District title Saturday and now plays reigning state runner-up and fourth-ranked Eastside Catholic (22-6) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mount Tahoma.
The fifth-ranked Abes (20-4) face No. 6 Seattle Prep (19-7) at 6 p.m. Friday at Mount Tahoma.
“I just think all three Narrows teams had great seasons and the Metro teams had great seasons,” Cocke’ said. “And to know there are some good Metro teams that might not make (the Tacoma Dome) and some good Narrows teams that might not make it … that’s just a tough pill to swallow for, I think, everybody.
“We are Narrows League champs (alongside Lincoln) and Bellevue is 22-3. We are not happy. And I’m sure Bellevue is not happy, either, because they have had a hell of a season and to have to play us? I don’t know. The parity of it is interesting.”
Meanwhile, the third seed out of the Northwest District, unranked Marysville-Pilchuck (18-6), faces the second seed out of the Yakima Valley/Greater Spokane Bi-District, unranked Kennewick (17-6).
The WIAA altered regional seeding procedures this year and decided to announce the draws after the title games had been played late Saturday, while determining the times and locations Sunday.
It was designed to prevent schools from playing for better matchups — which for some teams meant losing, said WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese.
“To me, I have to give you an answer that’s a sad answer,” Colbrese said, “just because we kept hearing from coaches that they knew other coaches were throwing ball games — deliberately losing to get into certain parts of the bracket.
“The only way to prevent that was to not publish the draw until when we did.”
Though the draw was released at 10 p.m. Saturday, Colbrese said it was actually determined in mid-January and approved by the WIAA executive board just before February.
“When the draws were done, we don’t know who the teams are going to be,” Colbrese said. “But once we get through basketball season, we’ll review how it went, talk to different groups and see if we need to do it differently next year.”
Minimizing travel was also a priority in regional placement. The WIAA didn’t want teams traveling across the state if they could prevent it.
The Curtis girls were the odd team out on that one. Since the Vikings were the fourth seed in the West Central District — the only with five allocations – they are the lone 4A girls team that has to travel to Spokane.
They face top-ranked defending champion Gonzaga Prep (23-0) — which has won its past 46 games — at 6 p.m. Saturday at Mount Spokane High School.
“One of the girls said to me, ‘Coach, this is where we want to be,’ ” Curtis coach Jackie Thomas said. “If you want to be the best, you got to beat the best. I love how they are thinking. I thought it was going to be ‘What? How? Why? Ugh.’ I think they are excited for the challenge.”
And it certainly will one be for many area teams this weekend.