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Mikel Elliott, left, and Molly Rashoff of White Pass box in Liberty’s Katy Collins during Thursday night’s game at the Arena. (Coliln Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Time for a rematch

Alyssa Goins and Shane Schutz haven’t looked for a rematch since their basketball teams met for the State 2B girls basketball championship last year.

“We really enjoy Napavine,” La Salle coach Goins said. “Shane (Schutz, head coach) is a great guy. But really, the way we go about it is one day at a time, one game at a time. And whoever we play that day, we play.”

“We play one game at a time,” Schutz echoed. “Bottom line is we take whatever we get. We both have the same philosophy. The only difference is she has the championships.”

But truth be told, both had a twinkle in their eyes after easy quarterfinal wins Thursday night at the Arena that indicated they were pleased to meet again.

The last three seasons, La Salle has sandwiched two championships around a second-place trophy, with last year’s title coming at the expense of Napavine, 45-28.

One of the teams will get the chance to play for the title because this time around they face off in the first of tonight’s semifinals at the Arena.

Both teams have the strategy of tenacious defense and balanced offense.

In two games, second-ranked La Salle has allowed 35 and 32 points and forced 75 turnovers. No Lightning player has scored more than 12 points.

Napavine has allowed a total of 53 points, forced 56 turnovers and held opponents to 25.9 and 21.9 percent shooting.

“They breed discipline, they breed hard work. That’s what we’re about, too,” said Schutz, who played for Tekoa-Oakesdale. “It should be a great game …. I’m glad we have another shot at them.”

Numbers game

Not to dwell on negatives, but the big building – or state tournament jitters – have produced some little numbers.

Through 12 games, halfway through the second day, there were a total of 16 halves of basketball and three complete games in which at least one of the girls teams has shot less than 25 percent.

On opening day, there was a first half of 10 percent, a second half of 16 percent and a game of 14 percent.

Halfway through Thursday – the first series of loser-out games – there was a 17 percent game.

In those 12 games, nine times teams scored four points or fewer in a quarter, four times getting just one basket, and four times teams scored 10 points or less in a half.

If you want to look at bigger numbers, try turnovers. Nine of the 16 teams had 20 or more turnovers on opening day with a high of 34, which is four more that the points that team scored.

Depend on defense

Defense can be a hard sell to high school basketball players, but White Swan coach Manuel Rangel seems to have come up with a sales pitch that works.

Rangel’s undersized Cougars, who advanced to tonight’s semifinals of the boys tournament by defeating Pe Ell 62-54, have been getting it done on defense all season.

They did it again against the Trojans, holding them to just 38.9 percent (21 of 54) from the field.

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of good kids who want to work, and one of the things we’ve prided ourselves on all year long is our defense,” Rangel said.

“It’s what creates our offense and what wins championships.

“We don’t have a guy who scores 30 points a game, and that’s OK,” he said. “The cool thing about these kids is they love play defense. We emphasize that in practice and each player is almost like a coach out there on the floor, talking and reminding each other of where they need to be.

“Our kids just love it on the defensive end of the floor. It’s been fun to watch.”

Tall order

White Swan’s defense will get a different kind of test tonight when it attempts to deal with Davenport’s 6-foot-9 junior center Morgan Scharff, who scored just seven points – almost four less than his regular-season average – but pulled down 11 rebounds in the Gorillas’ 54-46 second-round win over Adna.

“I’m sure a lot of these boys are going to be thinking, ‘Wow, a 6-9 guy!’ ” Rangel said. “But if we stick to our game plan, stay the course and play good team defense, it will be interesting to see how things boil down.”