High School Sports

Regional basketball titles up for grabs

Go ahead. Scan the 4A Eastern Regional brackets. Either one -- boys or girls -- will do.

Now tell me who the weak link in the draw is.

You point to the University boys and their losing record.

"You'd think differently once you start watching film," said Kamiakin coach Brian Meneely, whose team has to open with the Titans (11-12) at 6 p.m. today in Kennewick.

"Even though they don't have a record that you're impressed with, they've got a bunch of players who can shoot the ball."

The consensus among the area's coaches is that these are as wide-open as the regional tournaments have ever been. Any one of the eight teams in either field could grab one of the four tickets available for next week's state tournament in Tacoma.

"It doesn't matter who you play," said Chiawana girls coach Steve Davis, whose district champion Riverhawks open tonight at home against CBBN No. 5 seed Southridge. "Because anybody could go home."

Richland boys coach Earl Streufert, whose team won the district title and opens against Eisenhower at 6 p.m. today, likened the boys tournament to two years ago.

In 2008, his team entered districts as the No. 3 seed, won the title, then had to win twice in the loser's bracket to get to state.

The only difference, he pointed out, is that unlike two years ago, when Ferris dominated the region, this year there's not even a clear-cut favorite in the field.

"There has not been a regional quite as evenly matched as all the teams are this year," Streufert said. "A lot of teams are playing well coming into this."

That list includes Streufert's Bombers (20-3), who beat Kamiakin 71-61 in Friday's district final and are riding a six-game winning streak.

"We've squared away some things offensively that we struggled with," Streufert said. "And we're a better defensive team now than we were a couple weeks ago. Everyone is doing their jobs. They're comfortable in their roles. I don't know if there's a whole lot I would change with this team right now."

Kamiakin (18-5) is in the 4A regional field for the first time since 2000. Meneely said while his team was disappointed after losing the district final, "they came in Saturday hungry and ready to go to the next step.

"The district championship game was a great experience. Unfortunately, we came up short. We didn't play the first half the way we wanted to, but hopefully we learned a lesson in a situation where it didn't impact us for regionals."

The other two first-round boys games match up Davis (18-6) against GSL district champion Mead (17-5) at 7:30 p.m., and Walla Walla (20-4) at Gonzaga Prep (20-2) at 6 p.m.

In the girls bracket, Chiawana (21-2) and Southridge (16-8) meet at 6 p.m. in a rematch of their district semifinal a week ago won by the Riverhawks 64-53.

The Suns shared the Columbia Division title with Wenatchee, which they beat 70-60 on the road Saturday to grab the district's final berth to regionals.

"Everyone starts over again," said Southridge coach Scott Stiles, whose team is making its first regional appearance since 2000. "We'll see what we can do against them the second time."

CBBN district runner-up Walla Walla (15-8), which saw a nine-game win streak snapped in the finals, hosts Central Valley (17-5) at 6 p.m.

In Spokane, Richland (16-8) takes on GSL district champion Mead (18-5) and Moses Lake (13-11) faces Lewis & Clark (14-8), both at 6 p.m.

The 3A regional also begins tonight with four first-round, loser-out games. The Hanford girls host Mount Spokane for the third straight year at 6 p.m.

4A BOYS — U-Hi at Kamiakin, 6 p.m.; Davis at Mead, 7:30 p.m.; Wa-Hi at Gonzaga Prep, 6 p.m.; Ike at Richland, 6 p.m.

4A GIRLS — CV at Wa-Hi, 6 p.m.; Richland at Mead, 6 p.m.; Moses Lake at Lewis & Clark; Southridge at Chiawana, 6 p.m.