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ACH romps to easy win, but Colton up next

Mike Correia knows desire isn’t enough – although his Warriors’ aspirations are fiercely intact.

On that note, the Almira/Coulee-Hartline girls basketball coach said his team is looking forward to the challenge it will face today following a 72-15 victory over the Lopez Lobos in the opening round of the State 1B tournament on Thursday evening at the Arena.

The Warriors will face the undefeated three-time defending state champion Colton Wildcats – who scored a 58-36 victory in their quarterfinal matchup with previously undefeated Neah Bay.

The Wildcats (24-0) and Warriors (21-4) will go head-to-head in a 7:15 p.m. semifinal, while Columbia (26-1) and Sunnyside Christian will meet in the other semifinal at 9 p.m.

“It’ll be tight – it’s not going to be a 15- or 20-point victory if we can pull it off,” Correia said. “If you don’t want to play a team like (Colton) and accept the challenge when it comes to the state tournament, you shouldn’t be here.

“That said, we can want it all we want, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t execute. We’ve lost to quality teams this season and now it’s time to step up and beat a quality team. Things are going to have to go our way for us to win.”

Things obviously went the Warriors’ way on Thursday.

The Warriors shot 48.3 percent from the field and built a 41-9 lead at halftime. Four players – Madeline Isaak (13), Allison Fox (13), Kelsey Streeter (11) and Kodi Noggles (10) – scored in double digits, and Noggles led all players with eight rebounds. Fox and Streeter each nailed three 3-pointers as ACH finished 8 for 20 from beyond the arc.

“We started out a little slow, and regardless of the score they played us hard,” Correia said. “It was nice to get everyone going offensively and get a feel for the court … but the key against (Colton) is going to be defense.”

As a result of 24.2 percent shooting from the field, Colton’s 22-point margin of victory was a relatively close game compared to the 46.5-point edge they averaged in 20 regular-season victories. The defending champs aren’t likely to struggle as much on offense today.

“There is no reason to believe they aren’t the front-runner again,” Correia said. “There are teams that are gunning for them, but it takes more than just wanting to beat them. It’s going to take a great effort. We’re going to have to be sharp.”