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SBLive's 2021-22 all-state Washington high school girls coach of the year: Jeff Wilson gets Lake Washington rolling — again — in March

The Kangs win 14 of 15 games under the fifth-year coach in reaching the Class 3A championship game again - two years after being unexpected state finalists

Even after unexpectedly leading Lake Washington High School to the Class 3A championship game in 2020, Jeff Wilson still had his prove-it-again doubters.

So, guess what? Wilson, 31, and the Kangs did just that earlier this month, returning to the season's biggest game in the Tacoma Dome.

Yes, Lake Washington still had all-state point guard Rosa Smith aboard for this voyage. But the team was without its top frontcourt scorer in Sydney Hani (knee), and yet made its championship-game run with essentially seven new players in the rotation.

Wilson also handed out the season's biggest strategic assist.

After the Kangs' mid-January loss to Tumwater, and a couple of poor perimeter shooting games against Archbishop Murphy and Interlake after that, Wilson shifted the focal point of the offense to 6-foot-4 Elise Hani, a University of Washington volleyball signee.

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"We started spending the next few practices committed to finding Elise, and we inserted a different zone offense to get her isolated," Wilson said.

Combine that with getting fully healthy, Lake Washington won 14 of 15 games, including a come-from-behind regional-round victory over Snohomish, before running into No. 1 Garfield in the 3A title game.

And the Kangs' played the Metro League champions the toughest of anybody, losing 39-38.

Wilson really got into basketball hanging out at grandfather Ray Sulzer's week-long Arizona Sports Camp.

Back in Washington, Wilson played at Edmonds-Woodway High School, and was set to try out for the Portland State University men's team before getting into a serious automobile accident just days before he was set to graduate.

While recovering, Wilson decided to stay local - and get into coaching. He was the junior-varsity girls coach at his alma mater before being hired by Lake Washington before the 2017-18 season.

By his second season, the Kangs shed their losing ways. And in 2019-20, Lake Washington upset No. 1 Eastside Catholic in the 3A tournament to reach the finals, losing to Garfield.

They did it again two years later.

SBLive's all-state basketball teams

(Featured photo by Vince Miller)