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Champs defend 2B title

Northwest Christian goes for 4 straight

Northwest Christian starts after its fourth-straight State 2B boys basketball championship and sixth straight state trophy at 4 p.m. Wednesday when the tournament opens at the Spokane Arena.

Colfax goes after its first State 2B girls basketball championship and 11th trophy in a row at 9 p.m.

With history on their side, those two have to be considered the favorites when the two 16-team tournaments tip-off at 9 a.m. on adjacent courts at the Arena.

The boys draw is without any of the three foes that lost to the Crusaders in the most recent championship games. Northwest Christian (25-0) faces North Beach in its opener.

“I don’t know much about the teams on the other side of the state,” Crusaders coach Ray Ricks said. “I’m trying to find out. The time is pretty good. It fits well, we’ll try to do a combination of school. It keeps us in our routine and allows the student body to come follow them.”

Northwest Christian placed third in the 2005 tournament before running off three straight championships. In 2004 the Crusaders were second in the 1A tournament, the only season among the 16 they have made state that wasn’t as a B school. In the process they have piled up five titles and nine trophies.

As impressive as that is it pales in comparison to Colfax (23-2), which faces Seattle Lutheran. The 20 previous times Colfax went to state, which includes 16 trophies, it was always the 1A gathering. That dates to 1980, but the Bulldogs have been positively scary in recent years.

The Bulldogs were fourth in the 1A tournament last year, ending a string of four consecutive championships. Colfax went to state in 1998 but didn’t place; the next year the Bulldogs lost in the title game to start a run of 10 straight trophy years that included five titles in seven appearances in the championship game.

“To get to state is to get to state,” Colfax coach Corey Baerlocher said. “It doesn’t matter what level. Our kids are excited.

“I probably know more about the 1A tournament. This will be a completely new experience. In Yakima we had a routine and the kids knew it. It will be an advantage to sleep in our own beds, but in the same sense, now we won’t just be able to concentrate on the state tournament.”

The tournament changed when the B classification split for the 2006-07 season, but now a couple of regulars are returning.

The Garfield-Palouse boys and girls are back.

The Vikings won the 1B girls title in Yakima last year, the boys were fourth. The girls won 1B trophies both years at the level and four in five trips to Spokane. For the boys it is 15 trophies in 18 appearances as Garfield (one), Palouse (three) or Garfield-Palouse (14) prior to the one trip to Yakima.

The girls (17-6) play Liberty (18-9) at 5:30.

“It’s a little easier to get some information when on this side of state,” G-P coach Steve Swinney said. “I’m waiting for phone calls to be returned.”

While the Vikings were away, LaSalle was dominating almost like the Northwest Christian boys. LaSalle is the defending champion and would be going for a fourth straight if not for losing to Mossyrock in the ’07 title game.

“I don’t know a whole lot (about the field) because I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the 2B’s the last couple of years,” Swinney said. “LaSalle is always good, we play them in summer league. (But) you have to give (the favorite’s role) to Colfax because of their history, their tournament performance the last couple of years. LaSalle lost a lot of kids off last year’s team but it looks like they reloaded.”

The Vikings’ boys (20-4) play Entiat at 9 p.m.

“We’ve had that draw before. I don’t like playing that late because it usually runs a little later,” Vikings coach Tim Coles said. “They look like a formidable opponent. I’ll find out more in the days to come. I hear they have a couple of pretty big kids, 6-6, 6-5. That could give us problems; we’re the land of the dwarfs. We’ll do what we do, scramble around, get after people and see what happens.”