TACOMA, March 4 - Third isn't first, but when you move from a high-profile, No. 1 team in Seattle to an anonymous, overlooked team in Bellingham, third "feels just as good," says Jessica Tinned, clutching the State 3A third-place trophy after Sehome of Bellingham's 48-47 victory over rival Anacortes.
And so continues the saga of the Tinned sisters, who split, one north, the other south, following Garfield's 4A championship last year. Older sister Samantha is next up in the Tacoma Dome with Lincoln of Tacoma and has pressure, according to Jessica, to finish third or better.
The two are close. They're sisters, after all. And they speak on their cell phones before every game.
Brittany Janz of Anacortes
No harder than being routed in a semifinal, 50-33 by Issaquah, going longer than 10 minutes, at one point, without a field goal, then waking up the next morning and having to play a team for a fourth time with third place in the state on the line. Anacortes won the first three meetings, including the Northwest District championship game.
"We were disappointed," said Megan Busch, senior and Sehome's leading scorer. "Jessica and are roomies. We just went back to our rooms and had some fun and forgot about it. We wanted to win this fourth game against Anacortes."
That didn't seem as easy for Anacortes, which played a physical, emotionally draining semifinal against tournament favorite Chief Sealth and came within seven points of an upset. Afterward coach Ken Welk said his team truly believed it could have won the game. After the loss to Sehome, he said his group was mentally tough and refused to accept the emotional-letdown avenue, citing turnovers as his team's downfall.
Anacortes trailed for much of the game, stayed close, but never could get over the hump. Brittany Janz, Anacortes' superb sophomore, ignited one last push by draining a three-pointer with 3:43 to play. Her three at the buzzer trimmed the final margin to one. Janz finished with 18 points and averaged 19.2 points for the tournament.
HoopGurlz.com's Top 10 super-sophomores in the State 3A tournament in terms of their college prospects: 1. Kayla Standish, Ellensburg; 2. Candace Chambers, Seattle Prep, 3. Sophie Russell, River Ridge; 4. Ashley Andrews, Tumwater; 5. Brittany Janz, Anacortes; 6. Keri Arendse, Burlington-Edison; 7. Morgan Schwegler, Tumwater; 8. Alyssa Shoji, Issaquah; 9. Brittany Todhunter, Sehome; 10 (tie). Courtney Blume, River Ridge, and Brittany Quick, Hanford.
Super sophomore Kayla Standish of Ellensburg prefers to speak softly and stick big on a basketball court. As in stick jumper after jumper. As a shooter, she's absolutely loquacious.
Kayla Standish of Ellensburg
Asked about the explosion later, Standish wasn't aware of her feat.
"Fun," she said. "Unexpected."
The finish tied Ellensburg's highest. The previous time was in 1998 when Standish's older sister, Tami, was a sophomore. Tami Standish went on to play at the University of Portland and now is playing professionally in Australia.
"Kayla is further along than her sister was," Ellenburg coach Craig Faire said.
Standish, whose stock as a college prospect no doubt soared this week, has not played select basketball. She has been invited to play for the Spokane Stars, the select team for which Tennessee commit Angie Bjorklund plays, but she is not certain she'll accept because the Ellensburg high-school team plays summer basketball, and that's where she has fun.
Prepping for Success
Keisha McDonald of River Ridge challenges Prep's Allie Urban
It was one of those things that come up when girls get together before practice that may have set the stage for the Metro League's next monster team. Just as the district play started, one of the Seatle Prep players suggested to coach Michelle Hall that, if the team qualified for the State 3A tournament, she was to show up to practice in shorts and a tank top. Williams, see, is known for her baggy sweats.
"We thought maybe she was hiding something," sophomore post Candace Chambers said.
Jeff Pietz, Prep's athletic director and Hall's longtime assistant, said, "Never in our 14 years together have I seen Michelle in shorts."
Williams accepted the proposition and, well, despite a 10-10 Metro League record, her young Panthers went 6-0 in loser-out games to qualify for State, where they went 2-2 to claim an eight-place trophy. Prep lost to River Ridge 46-41 in the game for fifth, but there was an upbeat attitude on the team - thanks to nine returnees for next season, including leading scorer Jasmine Williams and Chambers, a 6-foot-1 post who had a breakout tournament.
And, of course, the memory of Hall in her shorts.
"She's really ripped," said Chambers, who averaged 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, second in both categories for the tournament. "She has muscular calves. We were like, 'Whoa, we didn't know that about our coach.' "
An All-Metro guard at Lincoln, who played at Seattle Pacific, Hall was in for a further surprise. "I thought it was going to be enough to show up and take off the sweats," she said. "I had to scrimmage, practice, the whole thing."
In a couple years, Hall likely will look back and consider the sweaty exposure a small price to pay for having solidified a talented, young team. Seattle Prep had only three seniors on its roster, just one of them - Angi Ramos - was a starter and only one other was in the Panthers' regular rotation. When the team started 3-5, things didn't look so rosy.
"Honestly, no," Hall said. "We sat down and set our goals, and making State was one of them."
But there was no expectation of fulfilling that goal.
Not like at River Ridge, where the expectation after a runner-up finish in 2005 was to return to the championship game. However, coach Bill Wirtzburger resigned after a parent-instigated controversy and was replaced by Kevin Estes, then the Hawks lost Chelsey White, a key senior with a versatile, inside-out game, to a torn ACL. River Ridge lost only two regular-season games, both to 4A schools, but was upset in its opener by Ellensburg.
"We didn't finish the way we wanted to finish," said Gabby Wade, the two-time MVP in the PAC-9. "It was tough adjusting to a new coach. We didn't really start getting used to each other until district time."
Like Prep's, River Ridge's future remains bright. Sophie Russell, just a sophomore, was one of the top players in the tournament. Courtney Blume and Keisha McDonald, both of whom had breakout seasons, also are sophomores.
Our Complete 3A Tournament Coverage Menu:
The girls of Chief Sealth and Issaquah collaborated on a memorable championship game.
3A Championship Photos
Images from a memorable day of action at the Tacoma Dome.
3A Tournament Recap
MVP and all-tournament teams, with comments, and statistical leaders and all scores.
3A Final: Thunder or Lightning?
After Anacortes' close call in the semifinals, Issaquah hopes speed kills size in a title rematch with Chief Sealth.
Sister Act I
Jessica Tinned goes from 4A to 3A and gets another trophy.
3A Friday Photos
Images from Semifinal Day action at the Tacoma Dome.
Winning Isn't Everything
Holy Names coach Lee Adams chose to protect a player's future over pursuing a tournament win.
No Piece of Cake
Three teams endured a tough challenges to bid for the toughest challenge of all - a shot at Chief Sealth.
A Super-Soph State
On the court, the opening day of the State 3A tournament was marked by the brilliant performances of numerous sophomores.
Dark Cloud Over 3A
An eligibility ruling cast some doubt over the defending champions, while the returning runners up are upset.
3A Bracket Breakdown
How we see the tournament unfolding, round by round and game by game.
Elite Eleven Players
As we head into the state tournaments, we look at Washington's top 11 players, including Angie Bjorklund of University, without regard to classification.
Elite Eleven: A What-If 3A
We project River Ridge and tournament MVP Sophie Russell to be the champions of a State 3A tournament that never actually will happen..
State 3A, 1A Schedules & Results
Day-by-day schedule (and results, during tournament) for the State 3A & 1A girls basketball tournaments.
State 3A Team Capsules
Essential information on each of the 16 State 3A tournament participants, ranked by HoopGurlz.com (on team strength, not predicted finish). Individual team capsules also can be accessed by clicking team name from front-page list of qualifiers.
Know where all the seniors are headed after the tournament. We have the most complete list anywhere of Division I commitments by players from Washington and Oregon.