When is the last time the Thomas Jefferson High School boys basketball team hosted a playoff game?
Coach Kyle Templeton searched, but couldn’t find the answer — except that it’s been at least 30 years.
Jefferson will host Timberline in the first round of the Class 4A West Central District playoffs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“The environment is going to be insane,” Templeton said. “Our senior night crowd (against top-ranked Federal Way) was one of the best high school crowds I have ever seen. I am totally biased, but the stands were absolutely packed.”
Thomas Jefferson (11-11) has reached the district tournament three of the past four years — and four years ago it made it for the first time since 1985, Templeton said.
But it’s hard to imagine its roster of seven seniors is satisfied with only hosting a district playoff game.
Six of the 16 teams in the double-elimination 4A WCD tournament will advance to the regional round of the 4A state tournament. And Jefferson is hoping to advance to regionals for the second time since 2013 and just the fourth time in team history. It also reached state in 1974 and 1979.
Darius Anderson leads the Raiders averaging 15.6 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as a 6-foot-6 stretch forward who can knock down 3-pointers.
“It makes him virtually unguardable,” said Templeton, who has now led Jefferson to the postseason in three of his seven seasons. “He is almost unstoppable on the block because of how big and strong he is. Combined with his shooting and I think he is one of the most efficient offensive players in the state.”
And while Templeton isn’t looking past Timberline, it’s certainly on his mind that in the second round Jefferson could meet league rival and unbeaten Federal Way for the third time this season. Jefferson has the two highest-scoring games against the Eagles — losing 87-74 on Dec. 22 and 82-69 on Jan. 29.
“None of that matters if we can’t take care of business on Wednesday,” Templeton said. “(Timberline has) a lot of dudes that can play.
“If we can win that game, I feel really good about FW in winner-to-state (game) Friday.”
YELM BOYS RETURN TO POSTSEASON PLAY
For Yelm’s grand re-entrance into the postseason, it gets defending state champion Federal Way (21-0).
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Yelm coach Jordan Barnes said. “We haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years, so why not make the playoffs harder than they should be, right? And just play the No. 1 team in the state.”
Oh, and it’s ranked No. 23 in the country by USA Today.
Yelm’s last appearance in the playoffs was in 2003. That team went two and out at the 3A state tournament.
This season, the Tornados (9-11) are led by senior guard Christian Davis. Davis finished the regular season as the South Sound’s leading scorer in points per game at 28.6.
He was fifth overall in scoring, netting 458 in 16 games.
“Obviously, Christian helps,” Barnes said. “I think the senior leadership is definitely what got us to the playoffs.”
Davis hasn’t played since Jan. 27 at South Kitsap, but will be ready to go Wednesday. He missed the two final games of the regular season after tweaking his ankle in a game against Timberline.
“He’s been going really hard at practice,” Barnes said. “He’s trying to get himself conditioned and back into game mode. I think, for him, he knows he’s only got a handful of games left for his career, so he’s really pushing himself.”
Staff writer Lauren Smith contributed to this report.
South Sound scoring leaders
Through Monday (based on available statistics):
1. Malachi Flynn
2. David Jenkins Jr.
3. Aushanti Potts-Woods
4. Romaine Jackson
5. Christian Davis
6. Luke Lovelady
7. Roberto Gittens
8. TJ Mickelson
9. Ryan Lacey
10. Deven Neff
1. Kiki Knox
2. Shoni Pritchett
3. Kendall Bird
4. Makenna Schultz
5. Alexius Foster
6. Tamia Braggs
7. Jessi Westering
8. Josie Matz
9. Emily Holder
10. Vanessa Higgins