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Sports >  High school sports

State 1B preview: Colton girls, ACH boys look to continue roll

UPDATED: Wed., March 1, 2017

Colton celebrates after defeating Republic in the 2016 State 1B championship game at the Arena. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Colton celebrates after defeating Republic in the 2016 State 1B championship game at the Arena. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The State 1B basketball brackets, above all other state tournament groupings, has the most local flavor in terms of sheer numbers. There are five area girls teams in the tourney at the Spokane Arena this week, while four boys teams qualified for states.

The seeding on the girls side is top-heavy, with all five programs that qualified in the first eight seeds: top-seeded Colton (20-2), No. 2 Oakesdale (19-5), No. 3 Republic (20-2), No. 6 Almira/Coulee Hartline (20-3) and No. 8 Selkirk (20-4)

Colton is going for its ninth straight State 1B title and will face Wednesday’s opening-round Neah Bay/Evergreen Lutheran winner on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Oakesdale plays the Selkirk/Sunnyside Christian winner on Thursday at 2 p.m., while ACH takes on 14th-seeded Yakama Nation in an opening-round matchup on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

On the boys side, 12th-seeded Wellpinit (18-6) faces Yakama Nation on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., with the winner facing sixth-seeded Pomeroy (19-2) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Eighth-seeded Almira/Coulee-Hartline will be watching 15th-seeded Odessa-Harrington against Chief Kitsap on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to find out its next opponent, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m..

Girls: Something happened on Jan. 13 that hadn’t happened in a long time.

The eight-time defending State 1B champion Colton girls basketball team lost. At home. To a league opponent.

How long had it been since those criteria were met? Try nearly seven years.

Colton had two significant streaks end that evening when it fell to Oakesdale 55-50. The Wildcats saw their 66-game home winning streak end – which also happened to be their last league setback – dating back to Feb. 2, 2010, a 56-52 loss to St. John-Endicott.

You know what hasn’t happened since? Another loss.

Since the surprising loss, Colton – the top-seeded team in the State 1B girls tourney – has reeled off 11 wins in a row, including the revenge match against Oakesdale on its home court, plus two wins in the District 9 playoffs and a convincing 54-26 win over Northeast 1B Selkirk in the regional round of state.

The Wildcats haven’t allowed more than 40 points in any of its last 11 games. So to say they are on a mission to prove that loss to Oakesdale was a fluke is an understatement.

Of course, the Nighthawks are the No. 2 seed and would love another crack at the dynasty. Republic is the No. 3 seed. The Tigers had the best record in the Northeast 1B, was knocked off by Almira/Coulee-Hartline in the league title game, then turned around and beat the Warriors in the regional round of state.

Boys: Almira/Coulee-Hartline, which lost in last year’s championship game against Neah Bay and last won a state title in the 2011-12 season, had an interesting trip to state this year. The Warriors lost two of their first three games, then cruised through December’s tournament schedule, the regular season and district playoffs without another loss.

All that got them was to then be paired up – by a quirk in the WIAA’s RPI rating system – against No.1 seed and No.1 ranked Neah Bay (18-3), defending state champions and winners of the North Olympic League.

In a two-overtime thriller, ACH – ranked eighth in 1B – knocked off Neah Bay 79-72, as Mac Isaak scored 33 points with 12 assists and Payton Nielsen added 20 points with 18 boards, while Charlie Hunt hit a buzzer-beater to force the first overtime, then broke a tie with a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the second extra session.

ACH is poised for a run this season but they’re also young, as Neilsen and Issak – the two leading scorers – are a junior and sophomore, respectively.

[Eds. note: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that the ACH boys had not reached the state playoffs since 2011-12. The Spokesman-Review regrets the error.]

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