YAKIMA – For the second year in a row, two teams from the Northeast A League will play for the State 1A girls basketball championship.
Top-ranked Freeman (23-2) literally limped into the title game, knocking off Liberty Bell, 53-43, despite a mounting list of injuries that had most of the team packed in ice after the game. Colfax (19-0), the defending champion, advanced to the title game for the fifth time in the past seven seasons by stopping Napavine, 41-24.
Colfax and Freeman will play at 7 p.m.
“The important thing is that the championship is staying on this side of the mountains,” Freeman coach Matt Gregg said.
It will be the fifth meeting of the season between the teams.
Last year Colfax beat league rival Lind-Ritzville, 53-39, in the title game – the seventh meeting between the teams that season.
Freeman 53, Liberty Bell 43
The list of Scotties battling injuries is surpassed only by the list of players who stepped up at different times with big contributions.
Jessie DePell remained injury free but was saddled with foul trouble most of the game. A day after scoring a tournament-high 40 points to lead Freeman past White Pass, DePell played less than 15 minutes and scored seven points.
Senior Ashlee Taylor scored 18 points while playing with painful shin splints, a dozen in the second half, to lead all scorers.
Senior Kaila Floyd, who missed Wednesday’s tourney opener with the flu, scored nine points despite twisting her ankle in the second half. Taped up and playing virtually on one leg, Floyd scored the key basket down the stretch, missing the first shot and the putback before scoring with a third effort.
“I couldn’t jump,” Floyd said. “I just knew that if I kept going for the ball I was running time off the clock, and if I scored, so much the better.”
Point guard Melissa Baker, nursing a tender hamstring the whole tournament, reinjured herself late in the first half, but was treated at halftime and returned to play a significant portion of the second half.
Junior Claire Moberg, one of the few Scotties relatively injury free, scored eight of her 10 points in the first half.
Senior Melissa Triber, celebrating her 18th birthday, came off the Freeman bench to play almost 12 minutes and contribute defensively.
“We’re all hurting somewhere,” she said. “But we don’t want to let our teammates down. We’ve been one team, one dream all season long.
“I never doubted for a minute that we’d find a way to win this game and get to the championship game.”
Katie McCurry scored 17 points to lead Liberty Bell (20-8).
Colfax 41, Napavine 24
Jordan Harazin is only 14 years old and already breaking hearts by the handful.
Colfax’s freshman point guard guided the Bulldogs past senior-laden Napavine, running the team’s offense, keeping the troops settled on defense and scoring a game-high 17 points in the process.
“I saw Napavine play when those seniors were freshmen and sophomores, and I thought then that they were going to be a great team,” Colfax coach Corey Baerlocher said. “I think it says a lot about our team that we were able to handle a veteran team like that.”
Harazin’s steady, heady play was a mantra that kept the young Bulldogs calm and focused on their path in both the quarterfinal win over White Pass Thursday and past the Tigers.
“I think our team finally came together late in the season, just before the district tournament,” Harazin said. “There was a while there when (junior) Katie Burns was running the offense and I was 100 percent behind her doing that.”
For the Bulldogs, the tournament has been simple.
“The bottom line is that we don’t have anything to lose,” Harazin said. “We lost to Freeman four times this season, but we came within two points of them at the district tournament. We don’t want to settle for that. We think we can beat them and we want another shot at them.”
Lake Roosevelt 54, Bellevue Christian 27
The Lady Raiders bounced back from their quarterfinal loss to Colfax behind the 20-point effort of Jessica Loe. Lake Roosevelt (19-7) will play White Pass (20-6) for the fourth-place trophy today at noon.
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