Unbeaten challenges 4-time champs
The finale that was supposed to be is set for the State 1B girls basketball tournament.
As expected, Colton kept its “Drive for Five” alive, rolling over Wilbur-Creston 71-30 Friday night at the Arena.
The Wildcats will face undefeated Sunnyside Christian, which erased any doubts it could challenge the four-time defending champions by thumping Pateros 78-38 in the first semifinal.
“I think we can beat them if we play our game like we know we can,” Sunnyside’s Stormee Van Belle said. “I think it will be a great game.”
“Our main goal was to get to the championship game,” Colton star Jenna Moser said. “It’s going to be a great game.”
While Colton (24-1) has been relentless in reaching its sixth straight title game, the Knights (28-0), who lost to Sprague-Harrington in the initial 1B championship in 2007, had a poor half on Thursday, although a win was never in doubt.
“We always kind of looked toward (Colton) but don’t look past anyone because we know how good you have to be to get to state,” senior Kara den Hoed said before the semifinal. “To have a chance against them we will have to play a lot better.”
And they did, putting together a quick 13-0 run for a 15-3 lead three minutes into the game. Van Belle and den Hoed combined for 23 points in the first half. Van Belle, who had seven on Thursday, finished with 21 and den Hoed had 18.
“I just needed to get myself focused more,” said Van Belle, a 5-foot 11 junior who also had 16 rebounds, six steals, four assists and three blocked shots. “Yesterday they tripled-teamed me a lot more but I worked through it better today.”
The Knights also got 12 points from Rita Dalrymple and 11 from Katelyn Banks en route to a 56 percent shooting game. Katarina Wilson had 12 for the Nannies (20-5).
Colton was just as surgical, using six 3-pointers for a 20-0 run and a 23-6 lead late in the first quarter.
The Wildcats drained 11 3-pointers on 25 attempts. Moser, a junior, hit 9 of 14 shots, including four 3s, for 26 points. Her freshman sister, Zoe, had 12 points, hitting both of her 3s in that opening salvo.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with her,” Jenna said. “I experienced it as a freshman, it’s neat that she gets to.”
Paige Vincent added 10 for Colton, but it was the defense that shut down Wilbur-Creston (21-5), which shot just 16 percent in the second half, 21 for the game.
That’s typical of Colton.
“It’s what we do every day in practice, it’s no different in a game,” Jenna Moser said. “It’s our determination and defense. We are determined to play defense. We don’t worry about our offense.”
It could be an interesting matchup as both teams like to run, but the Wildcats consistently use nine players while the Knights have just eight players.
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