The Eli Sports Network was at the Tacoma Dome this weekend for a spectacular State Basketball Tournament. As usual we witnessed accomplishments not seen or rarely seen, off-the-bench players making big impacts, buzzer beaters, future stars and a whole lot more. We know there is a consensus All Tournament team that was released but we maybe didn’t see it the same way.
We broadcasts 16 games over the 3 days and watched most others at least pieces so we understand not everyone will have our perspective but these are our all-tourney teams and meant to celebrate great performances and not at all meant to slight anyone.
We also do not believe an MVP must come from the Championship team. Our definition of MVP is the one player who stood out in their individual performance even if their team fell short on the scoreboard.
MVP Michael Carter O’Dea
Sure the Rainier Beach Vikings rolled to yet another State Championship and the Garfield Bulldogs were just as loaded with talent but the incredible numbers Michael Carter put up over the weekend was simply too much to overlook. He averaged 24 points a game scoring a total of 72. In the title game where Beach pulled away very quickly, Carter held his own scoring 11 in the 1st and 10 in the 2nd for nearly half of the Irish points. In the Semi-Final game he hit the go-ahead jumper with 1:11 to play giving the lead to O’Dea a lead they would not give up to advance to the Title Game. Carter would finish with 20 points in that game including 10-10 from the line.
When you average 24 points a game or score 72 in 3 straight games you might think much of that was from long range but not in Michael’s case. Carter was 5-11 from 3-point land but a tournament best 25-27 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, had 4 assists, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. His offensive output was nearly 40% of the 3-day total for O’Dea. These numbers will get you picked first in many pick-up games but we aren’t so sure he wouldn’t be the 1st pick out of this entire tournament. We have no problems at all in naming Michael the MVP his performance earned every bit of this award.
The Rainier Beach Vikings have some of the same issues as Garfield and that is when you are so deep it is difficult for one individual to really take over like Michael Carter did for O’Dea. When one isn’t hitting or off to a slow start the Vikings have 5 others ready to step in. In this case though Nkeil Nelson stood out to us as he not only tied for leading the team in points with Sam Cunliffe with 54 points he got better as the games got more important capping off this title run with 26 against O’Dea. He had 18 against Garfield and 10 in their opener. But he did more than just score he was accurate going 3-7 from 3-land, 7-9 from the line while snagging 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals. Nkeil was certainly deserving in our eyes of a 1st team slot.
Garfield also has the same issue with Beach as far as depth and it’s not easy on these teams for 1 or 2 players to take over, its just not going to happen so we look for other things such as leadership. In this case not only did Terrell Brown have solid numbers in all 3 games he is clearly the leader and kept this group together even after losing Friday night to Beach then having to play in the 3rd place game against Kennedy the following morning. Brown finished with 40 points, 13 rebounds and this shows he is the leader on the floor as he dished out 12 assists. Also a pill on defense with 2 blocked shots and 7 steals. A great career for Brown at GHS and worthy of our 1st team.
Bellevue’s Mikey Henn played big time in his final State Tourney for the Wolverines and refused to let the team go into a nosedive after a frustrating opening day loss to Kennedy Catholic. Last year Bellevue’s Tourney was over on day 2 this year they took home the 4th place trophy having to play in the dreaded 8am Saturday game against Cleveland. Both teams were chippy and a bit on edge and it boiled over into a physical and contentious battle with Henn and the Wolverines prevailing. Henn finished the tournament with 57 points, 20 rebounds including 10 against Stanwood where he would also score 21 for a double double. Henn also went 17-25 from the line including 11-14 against Cleveland added 8 assists and 3 blocked shots.
Matthew Sasonoff was not the leading scorer for Kennedy coming into the tournament but he found his stroke in the Tacoma Dome knocking down 52 points and shining in the disappointing Semi-final loss to O’Dea 61-60 costing the Lancers a trip to the finals. In that game Sasonoff rose to the challenge with 26 points. He finished the tournament with 4-10 from the arc, 2-2 from the line amazingly, 12 rebounds, 8 assists with a block and 3 steals. The Jr with the Jr dominated Lancer team will likely be a team to contend with again next season.
Sam Cunliffe is a highly recruited prospect from the Rainier Beach team and showed why as he tied for a team high 54 points in the 3 games. As mentioned above with Nelson’s re-cap, it is difficult to shine on a team such as Beach where the talent is spread out so well. Cunliffe would finish with the 54 going 3-7 from behind the arc, 7-9 from the line while adding 14 rebounds and 3 assists. He also played tight defense picking off 5 steals and earned the 1st team honors.
MVP Mikayla Pivec Lynnwood
Mikayla Pivec’s numbers blast off the sheet especially one stat, rebounding. She did her usual offensively leading the tournament with 58, but her rebounds would have been placed 6th in the scoring column as she finished with 45, yes 45 rebounds in 3 games. Pivec would no doubt trade all these numbers for a win over Bellevue in the Semi-Finals no doubt but her brilliance can not be downplayed.
The Royals were undefeated and the defending Champs when they took on Bellevue also undefeated and the two teams slugged it out until the Wolverines went on a 9-0 run at the end of the 3rd and into the 4th quarter going from a tie game at 40-40 to a 49-40 lead and then able to keep the Royals at arms length for the important win. Pivec had a big game with 20 points and 9 rebounds but it wasn’t enough. Mikayla and company then picked themselves up and came right back on Saturday with a resounding win over Kamiakin 64-27 to grab 3rd place. Pivec had her 2nd double-double with 20 points and 16 boards. Her first was in their opener against Prairie where out rebounded her point total with 20 boards and 15 points.
She was also a team player dishing out 12 assists and playing shut down defense with 12 steals for clearly the best all around performance, maybe of all 4 tournaments. Lynnwood will certainly miss this Superstar and despite settling for the 3rd place trophy her performance stood alone and it was an easy call for the MVP.
The Bellevue girls were undefeated State Champions but were also deep with talent which always makes it difficult for 1 player to really over shadow the rest. Going in we would have guessed Tatiana Streun may have been the player to do so but she injured her ankle and was limited in her play. This opened the door for someone else to step up and Shelby Cansler was already a key piece to the Bellevue success but she took the challenge to fill Streun’s void to another level. Shelby finished the tournament with 49 points going 9-14 from the line while also having an impressive rebound total of 21. She passed out 8 assists had 3 blocks and 6 steals. Cansler was an easy selection for our 1st team.
Mount Spokane took home their 1st Girls Basketball State trophy the 4th place hardware. They could have easily brought home a higher placing but ended up facing Bellevue in the opener which they fell short but gave the Wolverines all they wanted in a 62-53 defeat. Jaiden Lyman kept the Wildcats focused as they knocked off their next 2 opponents Prairie in a come from behind win and then Edmonds-Woodway for 4th place. Lyman finished with the 2nd most points in the 3A tourney with 55 going 9-16 from the 3-point line, 16-19 from the free throw line, 11 rebounds, 13 assists and 5 steals. These are MVP numbers and if not for Ms Pivec, Lyman would have had a claim to that award.
As dominate as Pivec was she did have a lot of help with Jordyn Edwards. Jordyn was spectacular in her own right and her numbers bear out that the Royals were not a 1-woman show. Edwards finished with 49 points hitting 4-11 from behind the arc, 12 rebounds (hard to imagine there were any opportunities for boards with Pivec’s crazy numbers) 4 assists, a blocked shot and 5 steals. Edwards earned her spot on the 1st team with her own impressive performance.
Edmonds-Woodway settled for the 6th place trophy after dropping one to Kamiakin and then bouncing Lincoln out of the tourney on Friday to get to the medal round. Missy Peterson was the key to E-W’s success as she put up a compelling tournament resume. Peterson scored 41 points while grabbing an impressive 23 rebounds. She also dished out 10 assists, picked off 7 steals and blocked 2 shots to complete quite an all-around performance.
This was tough not adding a 2nd Bellevue member to the 1st team but again their performances as a team then hurts individual awards and Jordan Smith also for Mount Spokane was dazzling. Smith fired from outside all tourney long attempting 25 3-point shots and connecting on 11 that’s a 44% clip. She finished with 47 points hitting double figures in all 3 games while grabbing 12 rebounds and 2 steals. Jordan had a very impressive all-around tournament worthy of a 1st team slot.