On Saturday night, I was talking to Jennifer Buscher, the Skyview girls basketball coach.
The Storm had just beaten Bellarmine Prep to secure the No. 3 seed from the West-Central bi-district tournament, and Buscher sounded worn out.
“We’ve been doing a lot of traveling these past couple of weeks,” Buscher said. “We even had other teams coming up to us to talk about how much travel we’ve had to do.”
When District 4 decided to combine with District 3 for a qualifying tournament to state, it meant lots of travel for Clark County teams, especially at 4A.
The Skyview girls opened the bi-district game on Feb. 13 at home. But then came a trip to Puyallup for a quarterfinal game on Feb. 15, another trip to Puyallup for the semifinal game on Thursday and finally a journey to Auburn for the third-place game on Saturday.
Add that all together, and you get about 15 hours of bus travel for the Storm’s last three games.
Now in previous years, Skyview would likely need to fire up the bus for another long trip to the basketball regionals in some place like Tacoma or Kent or Bellevue.
But this season, the WIAA was committed to a plan that would reward the best teams in the state with regional games as close to home as possible.
And the WIAA delivered on Sunday.
Four of the six local teams that advanced to the regional round of the state basketball playoffs will play at Mark Morris High School next weekend.
This year, each district in the state was allowed to offer sites to host regional games based on the number of schools in the district. District 4, which includes Southwest Washington, offered up Tumwater High School, W.F. West High School in Chehalis and Mark Morris High School in Longview.
The Skyview girls, Prairie girls, Woodland girls and Woodland boys all earned “top seeds” in the WIAA’s bracket system, meaning their travel would be limited when possible.
So all four teams were placed in the regional site closest to them — Mark Morris.
4A GIRLS: Skyview vs. Newport of Bellevue, 2 p.m. Saturday at Mark Morris
3A GIRLS: Prairie vs. Bishop Blanchet of Seattle, 8 p.m. Saturday at Mark Morris
1A GIRLS: Woodland vs. Blaine, 6 p.m. Saturday at Mark Morris
1A BOYS: Woodland vs. Cascade Christian of Puyallup, 8 p.m. Friday at Mark Morris.
The area’s other two teams — Battle Ground boys and Hockinson boys — will have to travel because they were “lower seeds” in the WIAA’s bracket.
4A BOYS: Battle Ground vs. Garfield of Seattle, 6 p.m. Saturday at Bellevue College
2A BOYS: Hockinson vs. Foster of Tukwila, 2 p.m. Saturday at Kent-Meridian High School.
So it looks like it will busy Saturday of basketball. Remember these regional games are one-and-done deals. Win, and you advance to the state tournament next week. Lose, and you’re done.