A year ago, Colton, the regular season Whitman County League leader, came within a win of the State 1B girls basketball title, running afoul of league rival Garfield-Palouse in the title game.
The Wildcats are undefeated as they attempt to finish business beginning Wednesday in Yakima. The Vikings have moved up in classification.
Colton (20-0) faces Wishkah Valley at 10:30 a.m. in the second game of the 16-team tournament in the SunDome, one of six area teams to fill the field.
In an important first-day matchup, District 7 champion Almira/Coulee-Hartline (22-1) squares off with St. John-Endicott (16-4), last year’s fourth-place 1B finisher.
Sprague-Harrington (9-11) is back at state one year removed from a state championship. It’s been more than 20 years, however, since Columbia (Hunters) has been there. And for the first time, St. Michael’s (10-13) has qualified a girls team to a state tournament.
Returning state qualifiers Cusick and Rosalia face off in the 9 p.m. finale.
The Panthers (18-5) and Spartans (16-6) were a combined 3-4 last year, Cusick finishing eighth after losing initially to runner-up Tekoa-Oakesdale. Rosalia won its tournament opener, but dropped a pair.
Tekoa-Oakesdale and last year’s fourth-place finisher, Garfield-Palouse, are now 2B schools. But Wellpinit (20-3), eighth in 2B state last year, is now a 1B qualifier. The Redskins open the tournament at 9 a.m. against Lake Quinault.
For the first time, ACH boys and girls teams have qualified for state the same year. The Warriors boys play at 12:30 p.m. against Tahola. Curlew plays North Sound Christian at 4 p.m.