(Images and video: Proof is N the Play)
As the pain of this year’s Super Bowl fades, here’s a chance to revive your Central Seattle sports spirit with some post-season basketball excitement from the Central District’s high school team.
The Garfield High School boys basketball team is really good — like top three teams in the state good. However, the team’s reclassification this year into the 3A division puts Garfield on track to face top ranked Rainier Beach in next month’s state tournament.
Last year, the Bulldogs won the state championship in their 4A division. Remarkably, the team managed to go undefeated in this year’s regular season with an almost entirely new lineup. The team’s final regular season win earlier this month briefly put Garfield in USA Today’s Super 25 national high school basketball rankings.
On Saturday at Bellevue College, the Bulldogs play Glacier Peak High School at regionals, a game Garfield is heavily favored to win. That sets the team up for another appearance at the state tournament, which runs March 3-5 at the Tacoma Dome. The first round match-ups (PDF) will be announced after regionals.
The two teams to beat in 3A will be Bellevue and Rainier Beach — the only two teams to beat Garfield this year. The games were close, decided by five points or less. Seattle Times sports reporter Josh Liebskind told CHS that 3A is undoubtedly this year’s most competitive league.
“Rainier Beach is playing the best basketball in the state right now, so they have to be your favorites,” he said
Despite losing several key players last year, Garfield coach Ed Haskins has put together another stellar squad. Garfield guard Jaylen Nowell is only a sophomore, but already one of the top ranked players in the state and a top recruit nationally in his class. On the boards, Garfield has junior Alphonso Anderson. The 6′-6” junior leads the Metro League in rebounds, averaging over 10 per game.
Anderson is a transfer from Tacoma’s Wilson High School, which resurfaced chatter about the prevalence of transfer players on Garfield’s team. Stand-out transfer students can be found on almost any competitive squad — Garfield’s 2014 championship team was no exception, much to the chagrin of some other regional teams.
According to Liebskind, the key to defeating Bellevue in the tournament will be drawing fouls to force a weak bench out on the court. The strategy for Rainier Beach? “Put up a lot of points,” he said.