One outcome was decided virtually before the game had begun and the other was in doubt until the waning seconds, but the end result was regrettably the same.
Both Colfax and St. George’s will play for the fifth time this year at 9 a.m. to determine which goes on to a WIAA 2B Girls State basketball trophy game and which goes home.
The Bulldogs (18-8) were set back on their heels at the outset by other-worldly Wahkiakum (18-7) shooting while losing 58-44.
The Dragons (20-6) shook off a second quarter run by Napavine (22-3), but couldn’t get over the hump in the game’s final minute and succumbed 36-32 in a tight contest.
St. George’s dug itself out of a hole after being outscored 15-1 midway through the second quarter and trailed 21-8. The Dragons narrowed the deficit to three points, 32-29, with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left to play.
But they went scoreless over the game’s final 5:36 until Natalie Farias’ too-little, too-late 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left.
During the interim, St. George’s botched the front-end of two bonus free throw attempts and missed a 3-point try.
Napavine’s Melissa Lee slipped inside for a layin with 55 seconds left in the game. At the time, St. George’s trailed just 32-29.
“You can’t leave stuff on the table,” said coach Mark Rickard. “Too many turnovers, too many missed front ends. It just comes down to every possession.”
Napavine’s defense kept St. George’s scoring leader Hailey Higushi bottled up. Although she finished with 13 points, the double-teaming Tigers harassed her into 1-for-10 first-half shooting.
“I told them to be more dynamic on offense,” Rickard said of the comeback. “At times they were too stagnant.”
Mollie Olson and Lee combined for 23 of Napavine’s 36 points.
Colfax coach Corey Baerlacher had cautioned the day before that Wahkiakum, Peyton Souviner in particular, wasn’t tall, but quick. “Everybody has to be on their toes,” he said, “If we get caught standing around watching, it’s going to be a long, long day.”
He proved prophetic, but couldn’t have anticipated the sharp shooting.
Wahkiakum did not miss a shot, launching most of them from beyond the arc, in the first 6 minutes of the game to build a 21-2 lead. Fifteen of those points came on 3-pointers. The lead ultimately stretched to 27-4.
“We definitely shot a lot of 3s,” Wahkiakum coach Rob Gehrett said. “If they’re open and balanced, I’m confident they’ll knock them down.”
The Mules scored the first 10 points of the second half to lead 41-12. Colfax rallied to within 12 points, but time ran out.
Souvenir finished with 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting, a couple NBA-range 3-pointers, and had seven assists and five steals.
“When she came in I knew she’d be a scoring phenomenon,” Gehrett said. “Her vision has gotten better and her passing is improved.”
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