Basketball roundup: Tournament time changes everything

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Big Bend forward Hailey Garrity pulls up for a shot against Spokane earlier in the season. Big Bend can clinch a spot in the NWAC Tournament by beating Yakima Valley tonight.

The price of poker just went up for four area high school basketball teams and the Big Bend men and women.

The Lady Vikings (9-7 East) can secure a return to the NWAC tournament for the first time in 16 years with a win on Wednesday night at Yakima Valley Community College. There are a couple of scenarios, but the simplest is to beat the Yaks on the road. If Big Bend loses and Treasure Valley loses to Walla Walla (15-0 East), the Lady Vikings will remain in the final playoff spot. But if Big Bend loses and Treasure Valley (8-7) upsets Walla Walla, the Chukars take that final slot and the Lady Vikes would be out.

“We enjoyed our win (over Treasure Valley on Saturday) over the weekend and got back in the gym to prepare for Yakima,” said Big Bend women’s coach Preston Wilks, who would coach in the NWAC Tournament for the first time in his storied career. “All we can do is take care of what we can control and beat Yakima. The girls have been dreaming of the postseason since we started the season and that’s what all the hard work has been about.”

Big Bend Runnin’ Vikes

The Big Bend men need help to get to the NWAC tournament, but it all hinges on beating Yakima Valley for the second time this season.

If the Runnin’ Vikes (8-7) beat the Yaks (9-6) and North Idaho College (10-5) beats Wenatchee (9-6), it creates a three-way tie for the final playoff spot between Wenatchee, Yakima and Big Bend. It’s not ideal, but there is a spark first-year Big Bend head coach Mingo Scott said.

“I would think our chances for a three-way playoff would be pretty good. North Idaho can beat Wenatchee at their place,” Scott said. “We just need to do our part and beat Yakima.”

Royal Knights

The Royal boys (21-4) won the SCAC East for the first time since 1975 and roll into the Yakima SunDome with a head of steam, having beaten Bellevue Christian on Saturday to advance to the 1A state quarterfinals.

“If you would have told me this was happening at the beginning of the year, I’m not sure I would have believed you,” first year Royal coach Ray Valle said. “I had some expectations in the very beginning that I kept to myself. But I could see the potential.”

The No. 4 Knights will play the winner of No. 6 The Northwest School-No. 14 Montesano at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Almira/Coulee-Hartline boys

The ACH Warriors will have to play an extra day in the 1B state bracket at the Spokane Arena after Saturday’s loss to No. 1 Sunnyside Christian in the regional round.

“Nobody likes to get smacked in the mouth like we did, but the good thing is there’s still time to reboot,” ACH coach Graham Grindy said.

The Warriors face No. 9 Taholah in the 2 p.m. play-in game. The winner will advance to the eight-team tournament and face No. 2 Muckleshoot Tribal in the 2 p.m. game on Thursday.

Moses Lake girls

Moses Lake returns to the Tacoma Dome for the fifth straight year.

The Chiefs outlasted No. 5 Woodinville 71-66 in the regional round to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals, behind a school-record 38 points from Jamie Loera.

The Chiefs will play Thursday, 9 a.m., against either Bellarmine Prep or University.

Almira/Coulee-Hartline girls

The ACH girls made it all the way to the 1B state championship game last season, playing all four nights of the tournament.

With a loss in the regional round, they’ll have to do the same thing again this year. The No. 7 Warriors will face No. 10 Taholah in the 5:30 p.m. game on Wednesday. The winner will face No. 1 Colton on Thursday in the bracket.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer at the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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