C Otiona Gildon, Gonzaga Prep, 6-0, senior
Might be Spokane’s best post player ever.
G Jessie Loera, Moses Lake, 5-7, junior
Never miss a local story.
Arguably top guard in state, at any level.
G Bria Rice, Todd Beamer, 5-9, junior
Titans create chaos, and she is the conductor.
G Laura Stockton, Gonzaga Prep, 5-8, senior
Still crafty like her father – and scoring more.
C Deja Strother, Inglemoor, 6-5, senior
State’s lone McDonald’s All-American pick.
1. Gonzaga Prep (24-0): Everybody knows the defending 4A champions are clearly the team to beat. But are the Bullpups vulnerable? Gildon (18.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Stockton (17.7 ppg, 5.4 apg, 2.8 steals) have picked up the slack in place of graduated Hannah Caudill, now at Montana. They are not as deep, but still as confident.
2. Todd Beamer (23-1): Get ready for the craziest 32-minute ride of your life. The Titans want to run, and they want to speed opponents up. Guard Quinessa Caylao-Do (14.6 ppg) is their best perimeter shooter. Forward Nia Alexander (13.0 ppg) is their top all-around threat. But Rice (11.8 ppg, 7.0 apg) pushes the attack. First state tournament trip.
3. Inglemoor (23-1): Don’t underestimate an all-senior starting lineup with state experience. The Vikings finished a school-best fourth place last season, and have the pieces to win it all. Strother (17.2 ppg, 12.6 rpg), a UW signee, commands double teams in the paint, which should allow open 3-point looks for Jordana Price and Alex Hagen.
4. Moses Lake (21-2): Had a controversial finish in the state semifinals gone the other way, the Chiefs would have played Gonzaga Prep last year for the 4A title. Loera (16.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 5.0 steals) is the next-great thing out of Washington, and has a reliable backcourt mate in McKenna Walker (17.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg), a Northwest Nazarene signee.
5. Bellarmine Prep (22-2): This could be a fun week for the hometown Lions, who come in a little under the radar. Center Claire Martin (11.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.8 blocks) and forward Shalyse Smith (12.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) run the high-low game out of the post to near-perfection. With such versatility, Bellarmine Prep can run or play in the halfcourt.
6. Walla Walla (21-3): Get used to this name – Ferenz. Chris Ferenz is the second-year coach. Daughter Mikayala Ferenz (16.6 ppg), the Mid-Columbia MVP at point guard, runs the Blue Devils’ meticulous, college-style offense. And twin sister, Kate, is a lethal shooter. Last state trip to the Tacoma Dome was 1990.
7. Bothell (20-5): The bad news is that the high-pressure Braves drew defending 4A champion Gonzaga Prep in the quarterfinals. The good news is that their past two trips to the Tacoma Dome, they have gone to the 4A semifinals – the last in 2007. Forward Taya Corosdale (17.5 ppg, 11.6 rpg) and guard Keyonna Jones (12.8 ppg) make it go.
8. Skyview (20-3): A somewhat-surprising quarterfinalist given the seniors the Storm lost from last year’s state squad. But the seven-time defending 4A GSHL champions are here, ready to make noise. A bigger, better-rebounding team than last year’s squad, Skyview will have to do all the little things to win games, and advance.