There is no question the State 1B girls basketball tournament has a theme. Call it the “Drive for Five” or “One for the Thumb” for four-time defending champion Colton.
The question was which team might be the biggest threat to the Wildcats (23-1), who made an opening statement at the Arena on Thursday by scoring the first 25 points in a 77-15 takedown of Taholah (11-7).
Sunnyside Christian was the logical choice and the Knights didn’t disappoint, running their record to 27-0 with a dominating first half en route to a 52-37 win over St. John-Endicott (19-7).
But the next team to get a crack at Colton is Wilbur-Creston, an unlikely challenger since these Wildcats failed to score a basket in the first quarter in falling behind Shoreline Christian 17-2 before rallying for a 55-52 victory.
“We had to step back and rock forward to get it going,” W-C senior and sparkplug Brianne Goodlake said. “We decided we had to pass more and push our defense to make our offense go, and it worked.”
The Wildcats (20-5) finally caught the Crusaders at 45 on a basket by Jessica Boyer with 6 minutes to play and took the lead for good when Alex Potts scored inside to make it 54-52.
“That’s our game, do nothing for the first quarter and try to get back in the game,” W-C coach Rich Jaeger joked. “I think they were a little awestruck. We tend to have a bad quarter. … They know when they’re down the game is not over. They’ve done it recently.”
Boyer led the way with 19 points and Kaelee Reed added 11. That offset a 32-point game from Sarah Ott of Shoreline (18-9), which shot just 17 percent in the second half.
“We knew (Ott) was a shooter and we weren’t coming out on her,” Jaeger said. “We had to shut down the cutter and pay more attention to Ott.”
Sunnyside Christian did the same thing as Shoreline but the Knights were able to finish.
“The first half we were very pleased,” Sunnyside Christian senior Kara den Hoed said. “We just couldn’t keep it going.”
SC scored the last eight points of the half for a 34-15 lead. The Knights pushed the lead to 28 points early in the third quarter but SJE battled back to make it respectable.
Stormee Van Belle struggled for SC with just seven points, five coming on 10 free throws, which was almost 10 below her average. But sophomore Annie Brouwer had 17, more than 10 above her average. Den Hoed scored 11. Van Belle did grab 12 rebounds and had seven assists.
Sunnyside Christian will face Pateros (21-4), a 63-36 winner over Yakama Tribal (13-7), in the 3:45 semifinal this afternoon, followed by the Wilbur-Creston vs. Colton game.