Colton made history Saturday afternoon at the Spokane Arena, twice.
The Wildcats became the first team to win three-straight Class B girls basketball championships and the first ever to do it with a loss in the state tournament.
Colton held off Almira/Coulee-Hartine 50-40 in a rematch of last year’s title 1B title game, avenging a 45-43 loss to the Warriors last Friday in the first round of the new state tournament format.
“They’re all tough but this may have been the toughest,” Colton coach Clark Vining said. “We lost to ACH just a week ago and all that our community’s been through the last couple of weeks with Kaitlin’s dad passing away.”
Kaitlin Druffel, who’s dad died on Valentine’s Day, was one of the Colton heroes, hitting four free throws down the stretch to finish with 10 points.
“My dad’s always in the back of my mind. He’s always here,” the junior said. “This is his favorite time of year. He would be really proud of everyone.”
That would include freshman Jenna Moser, who contributed nine clutch points, none bigger than a 3-pointer from the left wing midway through the fourth quarter to cap a 7-0 burst after the Warriors closed within one.
“I was really nervous,” she admitted. “I was manager the last two years, that helps a lot. It’s so much more fun playing.”
The Wildcats (25-2) started quickly, holding ACH without a field goal in the first quarter for a 9-4 lead. The Warriors (24-3) got their first basket from Kodi Noggles at 5:40 of the second quarter, Allison Fox followed with a 3 on the next possession and then Madelin Isaak made a free throw to tie the game at 12. But then Haley Moser hit a 3 and Jenna Moser finished a fast break for the Wildcats.
“You get in foul trouble, you don’t execute on defense and when that happens you leave people open that shouldn’t be open,” ACH coach Mike Correia said. “They hit some big 3’s and they broke it open early.”
However, Colton had a bunch of fouls early in the second half, allowing ACH to battle back. Nikki Osborn, who had a game-high 19 points, 12 at the foul line, got her first bucket on a three-point play with 2:39 left in the third quarter as the Warriors crawled back from an eight-point deficit.
“At halftime we talked about being down by eight and if you don’t believe we’re in this game, don’t come out of the lockerroom,” Correia said. “Those girls believed. They worked, they fought, but you have to hand it to Colton, that’s a tough team.”
Molly Kramer ended up taking control. Despite missing 10 minutes with foul issues, she had 16 points. That included an inside basket right after Osborne’s 3 pulled ACH with one, and then a 3-pointer with 2:39 left that capped an 11-2 surge for a 44-34 lead.
“I thought we were a little more aggressive tonight,” Vining said. “We changed some of the matchups and I think it really paid off.”
That was especially true with Kramer’s defense on Osborn.
“She’s a great athlete, she knows how to get position, get fouled and go to the free throw line,” Kramer said. “The first time we played I wasn’t physical. That’s what I’m built for, that’s what I do.”
And like all the Wildcats, she also wins.