Steve Segadelli is campaigning for a championship.
It's no hard sell.
His Woodinville girls basketball team is on the long list of contenders in this week's Class 4A state girls basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
In what is widely considered a deep and talented field, the fourth-ranked Falcons seemingly have as good of a chance at winning it all as anyone else. Just ask Segadelli, who can point to several favorable factors:
• A 22-1 record.
• Won the tough KingCo 4A conference, which has produced the past two state champions in Garfield (2005) and Roosevelt (2004).
• Won the upper division in San Diego's prestigious Surf 'N Slam Tournament in December.
Times reporters and correspondents pick the champion:
Sandy Ringer: University 50, Auburn Riverside 47
Craig Smith: Woodinville 50, Eisenhower 46
Matt Massey: Prairie 51, Eisenhower 47
Glenn Nelson: University 62, Auburn Riverside 59
• A high-scoring offense (63.7 points per game) that has four players averaging 10 or more points, led by the 16.7 of Utah State-bound LeeAnn Palo.
• A pressure defense that allows an average of just 43.3 points.
With no overwhelming favorite coming into the tournament, Segadelli has taken a "Why not us?" attitude.
"We feel we're coming in as a contender," he said.
The only real knock on the Falcons is that they lack state-tournament experience. This is just their second appearance — first since 1993.
But they do have some veteran players. Junior forward Amanda Best, already committed to New Mexico, played in last year's championship with Snohomish, which lost in overtime to Garfield. She also played in the tournament as a freshman. And senior forward Amanda Fleischman helped Woodinville win the 4A state title in fastpitch last spring.
Woodinville's lone loss this season came in overtime to Garfield and was later avenged. The Bulldogs, who suffered some late-season injuries, failed to qualify for the tournament, marking the second straight year the 4A defending champ did not make it. Roosevelt missed last year's tourney.
Garfield coach Joyce Walker said she would not be surprised to see Woodinville and Roosevelt do well.
"I think it's a pretty wide-open tournament," she said. "It will be the team that gets the most momentum."
Like many, she believes top-ranked Lincoln of Tacoma (24-1) could run the table if the Abes stay mentally focused. They have more physical talent than any other team in the tournament and, like Woodinville, owe their only loss to Garfield, in OT. They, too, are here after a long absence, qualifying for the first time since 1988. But they also have a veteran in senior Samantha Tinned, a Garfield transfer who was voted MVP of the past two state tournaments.
"This is Sam's time to shine," Walker said.
Lincoln plays Roosevelt (20-5) in what should be an entertaining first game of the tournament this morning at 9. Woodinville faces Puyallup (21-3) at 3:30 p.m. and is in a tough bottom half of the bracket that also includes No. 2 University of Spokane (22-3) and No. 3 Prairie (23-2).
Woodinville could face Prairie in the quarterfinals. Prairie, which has eight consecutive top-four finishes, can't be counted out. But Ashley Corral's bad ankle sprain, suffered in Saturday's loss to Lincoln, could be a factor. She is expected to play.
No. 5 Lewis and Clark of Spokane (22-4) and No. 5 Eisenhower of Yakima (26-1) shouldn't be overlooked. As for upset specials, don't be surprised if No. 9 Kentwood (21-4) and No. 10 Auburn Riverside (20-5) pull a couple.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org