Paul Valencia column: State hoops used to be more fun

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



One year ago, I wrote in this space that, for selfish reasons, I wanted the old system back for the state basketball tournaments.

You know, 16 teams. At one place. Double-elimination. Madness.

Sure, I understand the decisions behind the move to the eight-team brackets at the dome. It is more cost-effective. But, oh, how fun it used to be.

Then last week, I noted how much more difficult it is to get to state this year. Remember, just because we are now down to the final 16 in each bracket, we are not at state. These are regional games and this weekend’s losers will not be considered state participants.

So here we are, a year later from one column, a week later from another, and look what happened.

Who rocked the house?

Clark County rocked the house!

After a dismal Friday that saw a bunch of our teams lose to find themselves facing elimination games, many of them bounced back Saturday to make it to regionals.

Under the previous system, we would have two boys teams and a girls team at the Class 4A state tournament. We would have two girls teams and one boys team at the 3A state tournament.

And you would be seeing me do a happy dance to Rihanna? Or Bruno Mars? because nothing beats covering multiple teams at state.

Plus, we would have some small schools that would already be heading to Yakima or Spokane.

Instead, all of our teams are spread out in one-and-done matchups. Win, go to state. Lose, and go home. Most of our teams are going north. At least one is going way, way north, and then way, way east. Good luck to Evergreen in Spokane.

It also means there is no way we can be at every one of the regional games. There are more games, more locations, than Columbian sportswriters. Through journalism colleagues and help from coaches and athletic directors, we still should have all the scores and recaps from the regional action.

Until then, here is a quick state tournament history lesson for all of the remaining teams.


Prairie: Technically, we could use an entire newspaper to go over this history. But here’s the skinny: The Falcons have reached state 14 consecutive years and have placed in 13 of those years. The program has five state championships, with the last coming in 2003. The Falcons finished second last year.

Skyview: Five appearances, the last coming in 2008 when the Storm picked up their only trophy fifth place.

Camas: The Papermakers are officially listed as a state participant by reaching the final 16 in 1978, even though those opening-round games were played at regional sites. That’s it for Camas’ history.


Evergreen: Made it to state last year, but lost at a regional site. Last time at the dome was 2006. A total of 12 appearances, including a state championship in 1995. Team made its first state appearance, according to the WIAA archives, in 1959. Was that with peach baskets?

Mountain View: Six previous trips to state, with the last coming in 2008. The Thunder finished third in 1986.

Union: Two appearances, including a state championship in the program’s third season the 2009-10 campaign.

Ridgefield: The Spudders have 12 appearances, with the last coming in 2006. The team placed third in 1981.

King’s Way: The Knights went to state last year and lost at a regional site. They also made it to the 16-team state tournament in 2010.

Here’s hoping we’re adding to this list. It is not as fun covering just one team at the dome.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at