There was no South Sound representation in a high school basketball state championship game Saturday night — boys or girls, in any of the six classifications, at any of the three tournament sites in Tacoma, Yakima or Spokane.
Before Friday night, that happened in nearly two decades.
The last time every South Sound school bowed out of every tournament across the state before Saturday’s championships was in 2003.
Before that, the only other year since the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association expanded to four classifications in 1969 — and since girls basketball had its inaugural tournament in 1974 — that the South Sound has been completely shut out of the state title games was 1988.
Meaning, what happened Friday evening across the state was certainly an anomaly.
Eight South Sound schools advanced to their respective semifinals — Curtis boys (Class 4A), Federal Way boys (4A), Bellarmine Prep girls (4A), Kentridge girls (4A), Renton boys (2A), White River girls (2A), Life Christian boys (2B) and Muckleshoot Tribal boys (1B) — but none came out the other side with a win.
Perhaps the most surprising absence from a title game for a South Sound team was the Federal Way boys, who were a 4A state favorite, and were ranked 17th in the nation by MaxPreps entering the tournament.
The Eagles, who were seeded third, entered the tournament without a loss to a team in Washington this season. They ended up on the same side of the 12-team bracket with second-seeded Gonzaga Prep, who they lost to in last year’s final.
After rallying to take a late lead, Federal Way appeared on the cusp of advancing to its fourth championship in five seasons, but five-star senior Jaden McDaniels and standout junior Tari Eason fouled out within 15 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter.
That proved the pivotal point in the game, and the Bullpups escaped with a win to return to the title game.
“They’re hard on themselves,” Federal Way coach Yattah Reed said after the loss. “I was telling them this loss doesn’t reflect the great season they’ve had this year. We still have another game tomorrow, even though it’s not what we were planning on.
“We still have to play tomorrow and we have an opportunity to take third in state. They’ll be fine.”
Federal Way (26-3) did indeed regroup Saturday, routing 4A West Central District rival Curtis, 95-67, for a third-place trophy. The Vikings (21-8) took fifth, after losing to Mount Si in the semifinals a day earlier.
McDaniels led the Eagles with 26 points and 14 rebounds in the win, while Eason had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jishai Miller (19 points), Bradley Graham (15) and Jalen Womack (13) also reached double figures scoring.
Jordan Parker led Curtis with 17 points, while Seattle Pacific-bound guard Zack Paulsen had 13.
“It was really important to end with a win,” said McDaniels, who has narrowed his college choices to Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington.
“You don’t want to end up on a loss your last high school game. I feel like we ended on a good note.”
Later in the afternoon, the Kentridge girls (26-3), who were considered the state favorite in 4A throughout the season, rebounded from a semifinals loss to Lewis and Clark with a 70-60 win over 4A WCD rival Bellarmine Prep for third place.
The Lions (22-7), who lost to Eastlake in Friday’s semifinals, took fifth.
Standout junior Jordyn Jenkins erupted for a game-high 32 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Chargers in the win.
She leads a group of talented underclassmen who are expected to keep Kentridge in contention next season, though UW-bound forward JaQuaya Miller graduates this year.
“We are deep,” Chargers coach Brad McDowell said. “Even with this senior class graduating, we will still have some pieces that are still in place. … We have a nice starting five coming back.”
Callie Stevens led the Lions with 19 points, while Makiah Reed added 16 and Julia Bordeaux had 12. All three juniors will return next season.
“We respected the game (this season), and played how it was supposed to be played,” Lions coach Kim West said. “We stayed classy. We stayed confident.”
In Yakima, the Renton boys (22-9) bounced back from a semifinals loss to Selah with a 61-42 rout of Pullman to place third.
Demarco Williams led the Indians with 12 points in the win, while Jason Bowen added eight points and 12 rebounds, and Vershan Jackson and Isaiah Little each added nine points.
The White River girls (25-4) lost both their semifinals matchup with East Valley and Spokane and Saturday’s placing game against Clarkston, 62-61, to finish fifth.
Lee Audrey Norris (14 points), Kara Marecle (13), Taylor Schmidtke (11) and Chloe Narolski (10) all finished in double figures for the Hornets.
Saturday in Spokane, the Life Christian boys (20-6) dropped their placing game against Brewster, 57-49, taking fifth a day after nearly upsetting Saint George’s in the semifinals.
Noah Robinson led the Eagles with 26 points and seven rebounds against Brewster.
In 1B, the Muckleshoot Tribal boys (25-4) rallied for a third-place finish with a 68-44 rout of Almira-Coulee-Hartline after losing to top-seeded Sunnyside Christian in Friday’s semifinals.
Kash Nichols led the Kings with 20 points over ACH, while Darius Nichols had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Kobe Courville added 13 points.
The Puyallup boys (sixth in 4A) and Black Hills girls (sixth in 2A) also ended their seasons with state trophies after dropping out of the winners bracket in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Contributing writer Todd Milles contributed to this report.