Colton’s Zoe Moser saved her best for last.
In her last high school game with an opportunity to secure her school’s eighth straight state championship, the Wildcat star scored 24 points to lead her team to a 54-40 win over the Republic Tigers. Moser made nine of her 14 attempts.
But it wasn’t that easy.
Moser picked up her third foul at the 4:37 mark of the third quarter and was forced to sit on the bench.
Without its leading scorer, Colton could have wilted. But MaryAnn Jacobs eased any nerves Wildcat fans may have had when she hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
“I had complete faith in my teammates,” Moser said. “I knew that they could do it and I’m so proud of them. I’m just happy that I could contribute when I could.”
Moser spent the rest of the third quarter on the bench and watched as her team extended its lead thanks in large part to 3-pointers from Jacobs and Meghan Devorak.
And it was back-to-back 3-pointers by Jacobs and Devorak in the fourth quarter that provided a cushion after Republic threatened. Jacobs finished with 11 points.
Colton made seven 3-pointers and had 27 total during the tournament, a new record.
Demi Jo Vaughn and Carlie Rittel led the scoring for Republic with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The game featured a frantic pace throughout. The Wildcats had trouble finding open 3-point shots to take due to the Tigers’ tight defense. Given the challenge presented by the opponent, Colton head coach Clark Vining couldn’t breathe easy until the final buzzer.
“We did a great job and (Republic) played well,” Vining said. “We gutted it out. Zoe got in foul trouble and our bench came up huge.”
Colton got 15 points from its bench – a stat not unusual throughout the season.
The Wildcats lost only once this season – a 73-57 loss against 2B champion Okanogan on Dec. 29.
“Nothing compares to this,” Moser said seconds after raising the championship trophy. “I can’t even explain it right now. I’m so happy and I’m so proud of my teammates. What a way to go out.”
Moser said she missed summer basketball last year due to an injured ankle. That time off helped her gain confidence in her teammates who had to play without her. That experience paid off in the title game.
Moser’s 3-point play late in the fourth quarter gave Colton a 50-34 lead and seemingly put the game out of reach.
The Wildcats end the season 25-1, state champions for the eighth straight year.