YAKIMA — The Pateros Nannies are quite used to a state tournament atmosphere by now.
Five straight trips to state will do that for you.
Pateros has been to state so often lately that coach John Ellis didn’t know how many straight seasons the team had reached state when asked Monday. But what he did know is what his North Central Washington 1B League and district champion Nannies are looking to accomplish when they tip off at the 1B tourney in the SunDome Wednesday night.
“We’re hoping to go down there and bring home a trophy,” Ellis said.
Easier said than done.
Pateros has brought home hardware just once in its streak — a seventh-place finish in 2008. But this is a Nannies squad more than capable of making noise among the best in the 1B ranks.
Led by junior post Lorrie Mattson (14.6 points per game) and sophomore guard Jamie Bruno (13.1 ppg), Pateros has a lethal inside-outside combination that gives opposing teams plenty to deal with.
“We need to go inside-outside. We need to be able to do that at a 50-50 pace, and make them respect both,” said Ellis.
As versatile as its offense is, it’s Pateros’ defense that has been its best asset.
“Our press keys what we do. We like to press for 32 minutes and get turnovers out of it,” Ellis said.
Pateros opens the tournament at 9 p.m. Wednesday against Cusick (11-13 overall), which clinched a state berth with district tournament wins over Wellpinit and Curlew.
Ellis said that first game will dictate whether the Nannies will be able to challenge powers like Colton, St. John-Endicott and Almira/Coulee-Hartline later in the tournament.
“It’s really all going to depend on how we come out on Wednesday,” he said. “If we can get by that first game, we could play well enough to get into the semifinals.”
The NCW 1B League-champion Pateros Billygoats hit a bump in the road on their way to state, suffering a gut-wrenching loss to Moses Lake Christian Academy in the district title game. But the team got back on track Saturday with a 78-42 victory over Columbia Basin Secondary School to earn a berth to its second straight state tournament, and it was exactly what coach Mike Hull wanted to see.
“They bounced back Saturday and played very well, and I think that’s a sign a coach looks for,” Hull said.
Now the Billygoats have a trophy in their sights, but they’ll have to contend with a stacked lower half of the bracket that includes favorites like Rosalia, Wellpinit and Almira/Coulee-Hartline.
“That lower bracket is loaded. We’re going to have to work our tails off to get some hardware, but it can be done,” said Hull.
Pateros will need big contributions not just from team leader Abe Wilson (11.9 ppg), but from several other veterans that picked up experience at the tournament last year.
“I think people saw Abe Wilson have a good tournament last year, so they’ll zero in on him I’m sure,” Hull said. “I need some guys to come off the bench and help out.”
Pateros’ defense has been its calling card all season, but Hull wants to see a stronger offensive presence this week.
“Our defense is solid, but we cant afford to leave our offense at home,” he said.
Pateros opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Sunnyside Christian, a talented team that always has a big contingency in Yakima.
“They have some size, and their guards are quick,” Hull said. “They’re practically the home team down there, so we know we have a daunting task ahead of us.”