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NWC joins defending champs in final 8

Hands down, this was one of the best defensive efforts of the Northwest Christian girls’ basketball season.

The Crusaders got their hands on almost every loose ball and bad pass made by Lake Roosevelt, cruising to 28-point halftime lead and an easy 64-29 win Friday night that secured the school’s first State 2B Hardwood Classic appearance since 2008.

In the second game of a regional doubleheader at Mt. Spokane High School, two-time defending state champion Reardan defeated Toutle Lake 69-40.

Pairings will be announced Sunday for the 2B’s final eight, which begin play Thursday at the Spokane Arena.

Northwest Christian 64, Lake Roosevelt 29: “We were hoping to get some steals,” said NWC coach Ashley Connell, whose Crusaders (20-6) got them by the basketful in the first half.

Lake Roosevelt trailed the Crusaders only 16-9 with 2 minutes left in the first quarter, but didn’t get another field goal until early in the third quarter. In the meantime, Northwest Christian outscored the Raiders 23-2 to take a 39-11 halftime lead.

“We were expecting a real physical game, and that they would pressure us as much as possible,” Connell said. Instead, it was the Crusaders’ full-court pressure that dictated the pace and led to several easy buckets on the other end.

Forward Chantel Knight was the big beneficiary, scoring 12 of her game-high 15 points in the first half, most of them in transition.

“That’s what we focus on: defense,” said Connell.

Even when Lake Roosevelt (12-8) broke the press, it faced a stifling half-court defense; four possessions in the first half ended in shot-clock violations.

“Tonight was exceptional for our team,” said senior guard Maria Guske, who scored 13 points while leading a half-court offense that Connell called “one of the best, most patient games we’ve played – not settling for shots.”

Reardan 69, Toutle Lake 40: Kelsey Moos and the top-ranked Indians had no trouble with the Fighting Ducks, who fouled often but failed to rattle the defending champs.

Moos scored a game-high 26 points despite getting double-teamed and roughed up under the boards and everywhere else. She had 14 in the first half and fed Tori Wynecoop on the wing for a trio of 3-pointers as the Indians took control early.

“We’re trying to do a good job of making sure everybody sees each other, and tonight we did a good job of that,” Reardan coach Ed Shields said.

“I think we’re really starting to peak now.”

Reardan (23-1) never trailed. An 11-4 lead grew to 26-9 after one quarter as the Indians thrived in transition and forced several bad shots by the Ducks.

Trailing 42-18 at halftime, the Ducks committed seven fouls to put Reardan in the bonus in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter. By game’s end, three Toutle Lake (15-12) starters had fouled out.

White Swan 41, Colfax 40: Alma Rae Swan’s lay-in with 1.6 seconds left gave the Cougars (17-6) a win over the Bulldogs (23-6) at Sunnyside High School.

Taylor Larson scored a team-high 10 points for Colfax, which was eliminated.