Red Wolve girls’ hoops holds off Anacortes, as school announces the future league alignment for them and other Red Wolve athletic programs

The Cedarcrest High School girls’ basketball team advanced one step closer to the 2A state playoffs last night, but had to work a little extra harder down the stretch than they would have liked.

CHS had as high as an 18-point lead at one point last night against visiting Anacortes in the Northwest 2A district quarterfinal game at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, but saw the Seahawks make a late push before time ran out on the girls from up north as the Red Wolves held on for a 54-48 win.

“Home playoff games are so electric and our team rose to the occasion,” said CHS coach Brad Knowles by email to the SVSJ. Madi Weir had 22 points to lead the Red Wolves, but it was the defense of Elaine Townley that proved key in the end, as the senior held Anacortes’ top scorer, Gabby Ronngren, to a modest 13 points. “Elaine Townley did an outstanding job on her,” Knowles said.

Jaylin Yowell hit half a dozen free throws in the fourth quarter, all of which proved critical, and the freshman finished with 10 points for CHS.

Victory comes as they find out what their future holds
The win for the Red Wolves closed out what was a very busy, and potentially very defining day for the future of the overall CHS athletics program, as the school officially decided its league alignment for the next two years.

Cedarcrest’s administration late yesterday, in a letter to parents that was obtained by the SVSJ, announced it had accepted an invitation to join the Wesco Conference beginning this fall, ending a long process to find a new league home which was precipitated by the dissolution of the Cascade Conference, Cedarcrest’s current league, following this school year.

In the statement, CHS principal Ray LaBate and athletics director Jason Frederick outlined some of the advantages for the school to join Wesco. “We believe that we have shown that we can compete with many of the 3A schools in the Wesco over the past few years,” the two administrators said in their letter. “A review of travel times from CHS to schools in both the KingCo and Wesco indicates that travel will be similar, especially when traffic is considered.”

CHS had applied to both Wesco and Kingco, and it appeared, especially after Archbishop Murphy’s successful appeal with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, this state’s high school sports governing body, forcing Wesco to admit CHS’s longtime Cascade rival that there might not be any room within the Snohomish County-centric league for the Red Wolves to join. But, that decision, according to LaBate and Frederick, ended up helping Cedarcrest in the end. “This opened the door for the Wesco to revisit the decision made denying CHS a place in the Wesco and they have decided to allow us into the league beginning next year,” the two said, noting that Wesco had also denied CHS’s initial application.

Another factor, according to the administrators, was Kingco’s desire to have the school play a league football schedule, which, they claimed, “is not ideal given the size of our school.” It is not clear if the conference was intending on having CHS play Kingco’s 3A opponents in football, or whether the school, as a 2A member, would have played the same separate schedule of 2A-centric opponents that current Kingco 2A’s Sammamish and Liberty have been playing the past two seasons. CHS, as you know, went winless this past fall within the Cascade Conference, and their overall player numbers would likely not support competitive balance for the program if they were to play Kingco 3A’s such as Bellevue, Juanita or Mercer Island. We’ll look into this further for you.

Instead, the school, as part of their arrangement with Wesco, will join a Northwest District football consortium that will comprise all of the 2A schools within the district, and tier them according to their records this past season, which for CHS, would place them in the lower of the two proposed tiers. This was originally proposed two years ago, but was rejected at that time, a decision that came back to haunt the Cascade as soon after came the fiasco involving Murphy and many of the league rivals, including CHS, forfeiting their games with the Wildcats due to concerns about competitive balance. That matter appears to have been a significant catalyst in the decision by the Cascade’s 1A schools, many of whom also forfeited their games to Murphy that fall, to leave the conference to form their own league this fall.

Additionally, both administrators also noted the potential for CHS to need approval to join the Sea-King District if it joined Kingco, which they felt could increase postseason travel costs. The Sea-King currently participates with the Northwest District for their 2A playoffs and is a part of the RPI system that helps determine postseason. We’ll also look into this for you, but it is not clear if the league intends on continuing that after this year.

This arrangement, at the moment, looks to be temporary. “Given travel times and the competitive level, we believe the Wesco will be the best fit for us at this time. We anticipate re-evaluating our league placement in two years, which is the time frame that Wesco has also indicated would be a good time to review this placement and if it is appropriate for both of our needs moving forward,” both administrators said. Reclassification of schools for athletic placement will take place statewide in the 2019-20 school year, and it will be following that decision that the school will re-examine their situation. CHS is not expected to move up to 3A in the next reclassification, so the question will be whether the landscape changes enough in either the Wesco or Kingco to allow for a more workable fit for the school in either league.

The impact of the move is expected to have mixed results for the Red Wolves programs. Some sports, such as soccer, girls’ basketball, and perhaps softball, baseball and football, should be able to hold their own against the tougher 3A competition, but other sports, such as boys’ basketball and volleyball, could struggle. Divisional alignments could be a factor for all sports to determine how they will fare within Wesco.

As for the here and now, CHS’s girls advance to a winner-to-state district semifinal game Monday night in Mount Vernon against Burlington-Edison, who held off Sehome from Bellingham in their quarterfinal game last night. The 6:00 p.m. tip will likely be webstreamed just like last night’s game was, by either KAPS or KBRC radio; plans for that will be announced soon and we’ll let you know when we find out something.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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