Basketball in Class 2B is unlike any other in Washington state. Just go talk to any of those old-timers at the Spokane Arena. There’s nothing quite like small-town basketball.
“Schools put a lot into it because there’s not a lot to do,” Kittitas coach Tim Ravet said. “There’s a lot of passion and emotion that goes into it.”
Ravet’s son, Brock, has led the Coyotes to back-to-back state titles and is on the cusp of breaking the state scoring record. The effortless play of the Gonzaga commit has Kittitas as clear favorites to win a third.
“I really think it’s about matchups,” Toledo coach Grady Fallon said. “We had Liberty last year, and we had them until the last play, and it didn’t work our way. So any of those eight you get, it’s going to be a good game. You have to play at the right time anyways, so if you’re off, someone if going to beat you.”
And Class 2B has a whole bevy of teams eager and talented enough to knock Kittitas off. Just look at the team below them, ranked No. 2, in RPI.
Kittitas entered the season as the favorite to win it all for the third consecutive year, but took its first loss against a 2B opponent for the first time in 24 months this year.
Saint George’s handed the Coyotes their first loss against a 2B opponent in more than two years in a 75-66 nonleague victory in November.
“I honestly think that the favorite thing went away when we got beat,” Ravet said. “We know we’re going to get everyone’s best and the next time we see them is going to be the one that matters.”
The Southwest District will want to factor into the mix as well. And most feel they have a chance if only they can survive the gauntlet of the Southwest District Tournament, which starts on Tuesday.
Six teams qualify for the state regionals, and seven are ranked in the state’s top 20. It makes the regular-season all the more important, and a top two seed crucial. Life Christian and Toledo sealed their spots as No. 1 seeds and are a win away from a regional berth. Thursday night’s games decided the No. 2 seeds and the easier road to Spokane.
That is if there is such a thing this year.
“You need to scout and you need to be prepared, but a lot of times you need to focus on you,” Fallon said. “So we spend a lot of time on our own things and a little bit of time on scouting. Hopefully that gives us a little bit of edge. If we’re playing bad, it doesn’t matter what the other team is doing. We need to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders and then give them hell.”
Despite the difficulty and the packed gyms locally, the Spokane Arena is on a different planet.
“I’ll say this first, the 2B tournament is the most special tournament of the state, by far, because small towns travel. Willapa Valley, Ilwaco, Toledo, those towns travel,” Ilwaco coach Tim Harrell said. “I’ve been to the 1A, the 2A and the 3A, and it’s different.”