The building program Stacia Soliday started with the Davenport girls basketball program four years ago culminated with a State 2B championship last year.
Seeded seventh, Davenport lost to No. 2 Wahkiakum at regionals and had to play a loser-out game on Wednesday when the tourney started at the Arena.
“Last year, looking back after the fact, it was probably an advantage for us to play on Wednesday,” Soliday said. “The group had never been to state before, so playing on Wednesday gave us an extra day to get used to the Arena.”
Davenport will find out what it’s like to bypass that loser-out round Wednesday. The second-seeded Gorillas open Thursday against the winner of No. 8 La Conner (19-4) and No. 9 Life Christian Academy (16-5).
Soliday is just fine with opening on Thursday.
She believes league play has prepared her team for state. Davenport is joined by league foes Colfax (19-4), a fifth seed, and St. George’s (18-6), a seventh seed. Colfax opens on Thursday while St. George’s has a loser-out opener against No. 10 Mabton (20-5).
Davenport is led by returning starters Sydney Abbott, a senior, and Sydney Zeiler, a junior.
The Gorillas are a blend of veterans and youth. Five freshmen are on Davenport’s roster.
“This team is just as good as last year, it’s just different,” Soliday said. “Having to replace as many as we did, we seemed to blend together relatively quickly. They did a good job figuring out their roles.”
Soliday said the team’s best trait is unselfishness.
“Nobody seems to care who scores as long as it’s us,” she said. “Six different kids have led us in scoring throughout the season.”
Soliday said five players average anywhere from eight to 12 points per game.
St. George’s coach Ryan Peplinski wouldn’t have anticipated his team being undefeated going into state.
He wouldn’t have liked his team’s chances had he known the various injuries and issues they’d have to overcome along the way.
The second-seeded Dragons stand at 24-0. No. 1 seed and defending state champ Kittitas/Thorp (22-1) is led by Gonzaga commit Brock Ravet.
No. 6 seed Liberty (21-3) earned a ticket to Thursday by knocking off third-seeded Toledo at regionals. No. 11 Colfax (18-6) will face Toledo (21-5) on Wednesday in a loser-out opener.
“It’s probably our most balanced team,” said Peplinski, who coached the Dragons to a state title in 2013. “If somebody tries to key on somebody, it causes somebody else to go off.”
Seven Dragons average 7.8 points or more per game.
“This is probably the most guys I’ve had that can go off for 20 points,” Peplinski said.
Even in the midst of winning, it’s taken the Dragons some time to find a groove. Their best player, junior Erik Farias, returned from knee surgery just after Christmas, and Peplinski said he’s probably reached midseason form.
“We’ve started nine different guys with the injuries and things,” Peplinski said. “We’ve only had the same lineup for six or seven games.”
He hopes the balance pays off this week.
“Everybody does a good job of finding the hot hand – whoever it is,” Peplinski said.
(No. 2 seed) St. George’s
Record: 24-0, 16-0 Northeast 2B; District 7 champion
When: Thursday at 9 p.m., quarterfinal
Regional: Beat No. 7 seed Toutle Lake 72-48
Key players: G Erik Farias, jr. (first-team All-NE 2B), G Ben Adams, jr., F Xander Werkman, jr. (first-team All-NE 2B), Cade Peplinksi, sr. (first-team All-NE 2B), G Dan Rigsby, so.
Outlook: Fifth in state last year, bowing to eventual state champ Kittitas 67-59 in semifinal. Owns wins over 1A regional qualifier Lakeside and Idaho 3A State qualifier Timberlake.
Record: 21-3, 14-2 Northeast 2B; District 7 second seed
When: Thursday at 7:15 p.m., quarterfinal
Regional: Beat No. 3 seed Toledo 45-42
Key players: C Isaak Ottmar, jr. (14 ppg, first-team All-NE 2B), G Justin Jeske, sr. (17 ppg, 9 reb, first-team All-NE 2B), C Thomas Redder, sr.
Outlook: State runner-up last year, falling to Kittitas in title game. F James Heer has been out since scoring 18 points against Medical Lake on Jan. 27.
Record: 18-6, 13-3 Northeast 2B; District 7 third seed
When: Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. vs. No. 3 seed Toledo
Regional: Beat No. 14 seed Crosspoint 78-33
Key players: G Carson Cloaninger, jr. (NE 2B MVP), G Jaydon Soncarty, sr. (second-team All-NE 2B), G Cal Gregory, sr., F Caleb Berquist, sr.,
Outlook: With first-round win would face No. 4 seed Adna. Cloaninger and Gregory had 16 points apiece in district third-place win over Davenport.
Quote: “This is our first trip back to the state tournament since 2013. We open with a tough first-round matchup in Toledo the third-ranked team in the RPI. Our kids are playing well and we are excited for the opportunity to compete.” – coach Reece Jenkin
Record: 19-4, 15-1 Northeast 2B; District 7 champion
When: Thursday at 2 p.m., quarterfinal
Regional: Beat No. 7 seed St. George’s 50-43
Key players: G Sydney Abbott, sr. (first-team All-NE 2B), G Sydney Zeiler, jr. (first-team All-NE 2B), G Darby Soliday, fr. second-team All-NE 2B)
Outlook: Defending state champ, was No. 7 seed last year. Had 12-game win streak before loss to Colfax in district title game. Coach Stacia Soliday was named league co-coach of the year.
Record: 19-4, 14-2 NE 2B; District 7 second seed
When: Thursday at 9 a.m., quarterfinal
Regional: Beat No. 4 seed Napavine 62-56
Key players: Carmen Gfeller, sr. (NE 2B MVP), Piper Cai, sr. (first-team all-NE 2B), Greta Geier, sr.
Outlook: Lost in state quarterfinal last year to eventual state champ Davenport 56-50. Have won 13 straight. Coach Corey Baerlocher was named league co-coach of the year.
(7) St. George’s
Record: 18-6, 13-3 NE 2B; District 7 third seed
When: Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. vs. No. 10 seed Mabton
Regional: Lost to No. 2 seed Davenport 50-43
Key players: G Ceci Bergquist, sr. (10.6 ppg; first-team all-NE 2B), F Mia Smith, so. (8.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg; second-team all-NE 2B).
Outlook: Sixth in state last year after quarterfinal loss to Ilwaco. Battled through early-season injuries and claimed the final entry out of NE 2B, eliminating Northwest Christian and Liberty.
Quote: “We are confident going into the tournament that we can make a run for the whole thing. With that being said, we have a very tough opponent in the loser-out game Wednesday in Mabton. We’ve got to have our best game every day to survive and advance.” – coach Mark Rickard
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