High School Basketball

Who will Whatcom County basketball teams face in the state regional round?

Lynden huddles before its game against Bellingham in a winner-to-state game in the Class 2A bi-district tournament Saturday at Mount Vernon High School. The Lions won and received the top seed into the 2A State Tournament.
Lynden huddles before its game against Bellingham in a winner-to-state game in the Class 2A bi-district tournament Saturday at Mount Vernon High School. The Lions won and received the top seed into the 2A State Tournament. For The Bellingham Herald

While six of the eight Whatcom County high school basketball teams to qualify for the state tournament will play for a bye to the state quarterfinals during next weekend’s regional round, the other two will be playing for their playoff lives.

For the first time, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association used its RPI system – weighing a team’s win-loss record, the win-loss records of its opponents and its opponent’s opponents – to seed teams into its state tournament brackets Sunday.

Along with the RPI, the WIAA also changed the format for the regional round of state and its state brackets. The top eight seeds in each bracket will play non-elimination regional round games for a bye into the state quarterfinals, while the next eight seeds face elimination in the regional round. The winners of the elimination regional games will face the losers of the non-elimination regional games March 1 for the right to move on to the March 2 state quarterfinals.

The WIAA began releasing its state brackets Sunday.

One Whatcom County team – the Squalicum boys – will have to wait to see where it fits as two berths to state in the 3A bracket will not be determined until Tuesday. But looking at who has qualified for state shows the Storm will face elimination next weekend. With the 11th-best RPI ranking in 3A, there were eight teams that ranked in front of Squalicum that have already punched their tickets to state – No. 1 Nathan Hale, No. 2 Garfield, No. 3 West Seattle, No. 4 Capital, No. 5 Lincoln, No. 6 Timberline, No. 8 Stanwood and No. 9 Rainier Beach.

Squalicum (18-4) should be seeded ninth, meaning it would host the 16th seed – likely RPI No. 25 Bellevue (16-5) or RPI No. 23 Edmonds-Woodway (18-5) – in an elimination game. Bellevue faces RPI No. 22 Kamiakin in a District 2/5/8 glue crossover for the right to move on to the regional round.

Here’s a quick look at who the other seven Whatcom County state qualifiers will face either Friday or Saturday (game times, dates and sites have not been released):

Class 2A boys

▪ With RPI No. 1 Clarkston failing to qualify, RPI No. 2 Lynden (17-6) became the top seed even though it finished third in the 2A bi-district tournament. The Lions will host RPI No. 10 Olympic (18-6) in a non-elimination regional.

Class 2A girls

▪ Lynden (18-5) enters as the fourth seed behind RPI No. 1 Black Hills. The Lions will face a familiar foe in a non-elimination game – RPI No. 5 Burlington-Edison (15-6). The Tigers claimed the first two meetings this season, winning 53-34 on Dec. 19 before grabbing a 54-50 victory Feb. 13 in the bi-district semifinals.

Class 1A boys

▪ RPI No. 2 Lynden Christian (19-5) is the second seed behind RPI No. 1 Freeman. The Lyncs will host RPI No. 12 Warden (17-6), the seventh seed, in a non-elimination game.

Class 1A girls

▪ RPI No. 2 Lynden Christian (22-1) received the second seed behind RPI No. 1 Cashmere. The Lyncs will host RPI No. 7 La Center (22-0) in a non-elimination game.

▪ As the eighth seed, RPI No. 8 Mount Baker (20-4) faces the unenviable task of playing Cashmere (22-0). Fortunately, the Mountaineers, who likely also will tackle a long bus ride, won’t face elimination next weekend.

▪ RPI No. 16 Meridian (18-7) is the only other Whatcom County team besides Squalicum facing elimination next weekend, as the Trojans received the No. 13 seed. They will travel and attempt to get past RPI No. 12 Seattle Academy (17-2) to earn a trip to Yakima.

Class 1B boys

▪ RPI No. 4 Lummi (18-4) received the fourth seed behind No. 1 Neah Bay. The Blackhawks will host RPI No. 5 Yakima Tribal (16-6), which beat Lummi 44-42 on Jan. 23.

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