PUYALLUP — There’s lots of basketball still to be played, and for the Evergreen Plainsmen, facing an opponent such No. 2-ranked Wilson in Saturday’s 3A bi-district title game proved to be a solid measuring stick as the Plainsmen look toward the state tournament.
“To play them this early,” guard Tyler Ricketts said after Evergreen’s 81-66 loss to the Rams of Tacoma, “is a great experience. … it says to use we have a lot of room to improve, to add a lot of things.”
Sitting at No. 4 in the state’s 3A RPI rankings entering Saturday, the Plainsmen (20-4) are virtually assured a trip to the Tacoma Dome for the Class 3A state tournament, a feat they haven’t achieved since 2006.
State regional pairings are announced Sunday and RPI rankings are locked once all district and bi-district tournaments conclude. Teams seeded in the top 8 are guaranteed to state.
Whether Evergreen plays a state regional game close to home next week or hits the road is the immediate question after Saturday’s bi-district title game loss at Puyallup High School. Saturday’s game featured one of the state’s premier matchups against two top-4 teams in RPI and had a state of a state-level game to it.
Wilson used an 18-7 scoring run in the final 3:09 of the first half to take the lead for good. Evergreen cut the deficit to within 11 twice in the fourth quarter, but never closer.
Evergreen played without all-league point guard and leading scorer Jaden Stanley, who has a hairline fracture in his shooting hand from Thursday’s semifinal win.
Stanley averages better than three steals per game on defense, and the scoring load was spread around Saturday between Carter Monda (21 points) and Mario Herring (14) and a trio of players who had seven of more points: Camren Smith, Izaac Romero and Zyell Griffin.
The loss snaps Evergreen’s 13-game winning streak dating back to a Dec. 22 nonleague loss to Oregon City (Ore.).
WILSON 81, EVERGREEN 66
EVERGREEN — Carter Monda 21, Camren Smith 9, Izaac Romero 9, Zyell Griffin 8, Tyler Ricketts 5, Mario Herring 14. Totals 25 (8) 6-14 66.
WILSON — Damani Green 20, Emani Mitchell 5, Cayden McDaniel 20, Jackson Dorsey 6, Dominique Ellison 13, Chakari Tindal 7, Malik Howard 9. Totals 32 (6) 10-13 81
Evergreen 17 10 19 20 – 66
Wilson 17 20 20 24 – 81