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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Girls 2B: Colfax, Davenport advance to championship game

UPDATED: Fri., March 2, 2018

In the end, it’s like any other night in the Northeast 2B.

An end-to-end survivor series.

Three of the team’s playing in Friday night’s state semifinals, after all, are from that large, two-division eastern Washington league – Davenport and St. George’s from the NE 2B North, Colfax from the NE 2B South.

Shades of the days when the Whitman County League and the Bi-County League dominated in the Arena.

The NE 2B will crown the next girls State 2B champion: Colfax or Davenport.

The title game will happen two weeks to the day since the last time these two state powers met. Colfax won that game 58-54. But Davenport defeated Colfax 48-40 on Dec. 19.

The first semifinal Friday was the rubber game between the Bulldogs and St. George’s and the team’s traded haymakers the way familiar foes always do. Colfax won 55-48.

Davenport, the defending champion, held off Napavine to take a 51-43 victory.

Standing outside the Colfax dressing room, enjoying some postgame attention, Colfax senior Carmen Gfeller smiled at the familiarity of the 2B Final Four. She and the Bulldogs had played them all before – including Napavine in a regional playoff.

Familiarity is a good thing.

“Yes,” she said. “But they’re saying the same thing.”

Colfax 55, St. George’s 48: At a point early in the second quarter, Colfax coach Corey Baerlocher turned his 6-foot-1 senior loose.

St. George’s was using the Melendez twins, Shayla and Daysha, and 6-2 post Mia Smith to sandwich Gfeller in the low post. A lobbed entry pass had two and often three sets of arms to get through to find Gfeller near the basket and the tactic left Gfeller scoreless through the first 8 minutes.

“That was my coach’s call,” Gfeller said. “He asked me to step outside and create my shots.”

As coaching decisions go, it was an easy call.

“Since she was a freshman, we’ve had Carmen play on the perimeter,” Baerlocher said. “We knew that was what’s best for her and her ability to play college basketball. That’s her game. But this year she came to me and said, ‘Play me inside.’ So we have.”

On the perimeter, Gfeller’s athleticism is difficult for any team to match. She becomes her own entry pass, gliding to the basket in long, powerful strides and leaping higher than her defenders. When she throws in a nice, pull-up jumper to her repertoire, she simply becomes a headache with no analgesic.

Once Gfeller forced the Dragons to defend her straight-up, Colfax began to slowly pull away.

She quickly found space for a layup. Then another and another. By the time the horn sounded for halftime, she had scored the first eight of the team’s 10 second-quarter points.

Gfeller finished shooting 10 of 14 from the field and knocked down 8 of 9 from the free-throw line to post 28 points.

She hit eight straight free throws in the final minutes to put the game away.

“That’s why you spend so much time shooting free throws, right?” she said.

The thought of playing the final game of her Colfax career in a state championship game brought out a megawatt smile.

“That’s been our goal from the first day,” she said. “To have the chance to go out like this is special.”

Davenport 51, Napavine 43: After the defending champs struggled to hold off Life Christian Academy in the quarterfinal round, coach Stacia Soliday made her displeasure known. She expected better from everyone, especially her five freshmen.

And she got it against Napavine.

“I don’t know where that ugly game came from,” she said. “This is much more like the way we’ve played all year long.”

It required patience. It required poise. And it required determination at both ends.

The game was tied after a quarter and again at the half.

The Gorillas’ senior, Sydney Abbott, came up big.

With the game tied at 32 with about a minute left in the third quarter, Abbott wormed her way toward the basket and drew a hard foul. She hit the second of two free throws and Davenport had the lead. She followed that with a layup, then whipped a pass to wide-open Sydney Zeiler in the corner for an open 3.

From there, the Gorillas handled a furious press and put the game away.

A rematch with Colfax will be interesting, Soliday said.

“We know each other and all that,” she said. “But they have several girls who will be playing their final game and we have a senior who will be doing the same. So there will be some strong emotions out there. It’s going to be interesting.”

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