What does a 22-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the state mean to the Rosalia boys basketball team?
It means Rosalia wants to finish what it has started.
“We want to prove to everybody that this isn’t a fluke,” said four-year starter Zach St. John. “We’ve got a lot to prove as a team and a lot to prove to other teams and coaches at Yakima.”
Rosalia will start stating its case today when the State 1B boys basketball tournament begins at the SunDome in Yakima. The Spartans take on Lopez at 5:30 p.m.
The Spartans are making a third straight trip to state. They took fifth last year, their first trophy since placing fourth in 1981. No Rosalia team has finished higher.
Rosalia has higher aspirations than a year ago.
“Winning a state title is on our minds, but you’ve got to win four games to get there,” Rosalia coach Rob Hudkins said. “As soon as you look past the step you’re on, you stand the chance of getting knocked off that step. We’ve done a pretty good job of not looking past the next step all year long.”
St. John, who has started the past two years at point guard, averages six points, 3.5 assists and three rebounds per game. His primary job is to get the ball to leading scorers Jim Maley and Nathan Richards.
Maley, a 6-foot-4 senior post and three-year starter who eclipsed the 1,000-point scoring milestone this season, averages 19.5 points and 10 rebounds while Richards, a 6-5 junior post and three-year starter, averages 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and three blocked shots per game.
“We’ve got to stay focused and execute,” Maley said. “And we need to be determined and have a strong desire. Those are things that have been evident all year with us.”
“We’re going to treat state as another set of games,” Richards said. “We’re not going to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. As long as we do what coach says we should be fine.”
It’s been a run of firsts at Rosalia – beginning last year and continuing this season.
“Last year we made history by being the first Rosalia team to go to state back to back,” St. John said. “This year we’ve made even more history. We’ve never been undefeated in school history.”
Rosalia beat most teams handily during the regular season. The Spartans’ closest game came in their season opener – a 61-58 win over Wellpinit when Richards hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
A rematch with second-ranked Wellpinit (21-3) could occur Thursday.
“We have to take care of Wednesday first,” St. John said. “We know we’ve got to beat Lopez and Wellpinit has to get past Oakville. If that happens, it’s going to be a game that a lot of people are going to watch.”
“Being ranked No. 1 is nice, but it’s really just a ranking,” Hudskins said. “We’d rather finish No. 1.”
Colton wants repeat
The Colton girls want to defend their State 1B championship.
The top-ranked Wildcats (21-1) begin defense of their title this morning when they meet King’s Way Christian of Vancouver at 10:30.
Four Colton players score in double figures. Senior post Kelsey Moser averages a team-leading 18 ppg, followed by sophomore sister, Haley (14.7), a guard, junior forward Mollie Kramer (10.4) and junior post McKenzie Heaslet (10). Junior point guard Mikayla Nygreen (4.5 assists) and Kelsey Moser were starters last year.
Colton won its first 18 games before losing 56-52 to state qualifier and second-ranked St. John-Endicott (20-3) on Feb. 2.
“We’re playing pretty well now,” Colton coach Clark Vining said. “The loss maybe woke us up a little bit and made us aware of some things we needed to improve on.”
Colton downed SJE 43-33 in the district final Friday.
“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody,” Vining said. “Everybody will be gunning for us.”