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STATE PREVIEW: 4A/3A girls tournament

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All games on Thursday at Tacoma Dome
Kentwood vs. Lynnwood, 9 a.m.
Skyview vs. Gonzaga Prep, 10:30 a.m.
Arlington vs. Moses Lake, 12:15 p.m.
Inglemoor vs. Mount Rainier, 2 p.m.
Players to watch
Brittany McPhee, Mount Rainier
The back-to-back Washington Gatorade girls player of the year and Stanford recruit is a 6-foot forward that can score from anywhere and grab tons of rebounds.
Deja Strother, Inglemoor
The 6-foot-4 junior post averages 16.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game and is a big reason why the Vikings are a dark horse to win the title.
Aubrey Ward-El, Skyview
This senior point guard and San Diego recruit already knows what it’s like to win a state championship and averages 18.0 points per game.
Laura Stockton, Gonzaga Prep
Yes, she’s his daughter. The Bullpups guard averages 13.1 points and 4.5 assists per game and makes a great inside-outside duo with Greater Spokane League MVP Otiona Gildon.
Sarah Toeaina, Kentwood
The Conquerers do-everything guard can score, rebound and mix it up on the defensive end. Lynnwood will have to control the Hawaii recruit if it wants to win the opener.
The Favorite: Lynnwood
What the Royals lack in experience they all but make up in sheer talent. Teams will have to slow down Jasmin Edwards and out-battle Mikayla Pivec in the post if they want to send Lynnwood home.
The Herald’s prediction
Lynnwood outlasts Gonzaga Prep in a classic semifinal and then bests Mount Rainier in a replay of the two team’s epic, double-overtime showdown back in December.
All games Thursday at Tacoma Dome
Lincoln vs. Cleveland, 3:45 p.m.
Bellevue vs. Sunnyside, 5:30 p.m.
University vs. Bishop Blanchet, 7:15 p.m.
Wilson vs. Mercer Island, 9 p.m.
Players to watch
Myzhanique Ladd, Cleveland
The San Jose State-bound guard averages 14.5 points per game and was named the Metro League’s MVP. Lynnwood had no answer for her back in the two team’s New Year’s Eve showdown.
Tia Braggs, Lincoln
The sophomore 6-foot-2 post was named the 3A Narrows League MVP and is an inside force that will create challenges inside for many teams.
Jess Blakeslee, Mercer Island
The sophomore guard hits big shots and is the engine of the Islanders’ offense. She had 21 points and 12 rebounds as she willed her team to a win over Glacier Peak in the regional round.
Jadyn Bush, Bishop Blanchet
The 5-foot-11 guard, along with teammate Taylor Chambers, is one part of a duo of freshmen employed to run the Braves’ offense. She averages 14.9 points per game.
Jordan Rodriguez, Sunnyside
The 5-foot-8 junior guard was one of four juniors who helped revitalize the Grizzlies’ team three years ago.
The Favorite: Cleveland
With two of their biggest threats — Prairie and Glacier Peak — not even in the tournament, things are set up pretty well for the defending champs to repeat
The Herald’s prediction
The Eagles beat every team in their way this season, including 4A favorite Lynnwood, and things won’t stop in Tacoma. Mark down Cleveland as the champ, beating a young-but-talented Blanchet team in the title game.
Aaron Swaney, Herald Writer

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