Paige Vincent represented the departing seniors and Jenna Moser let it be known that the cupboard won’t be empty at Colton.
Moser, a junior guard, scored a game-high 20 points and senior guard Vincent added 19 Saturday afternoon as Colton captured its fifth consecutive State 1B girls basketball title with a 55-40 comeback win over Sunnyside Christian at the Arena.
Colton started four seniors who have never known anything but state championships. Its roster included five seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
“I wouldn’t change this experience for the world,” Vincent said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m just so blessed to be with this group of seniors.”
Moser and Vincent combined for 17 points during an 18-1 fourth-quarter run that stretched Colton’s lead from 37-36 to 55-37. The Wildcats (25-1) simply wore down the Knights (28-1), who began the game with a 10-0 run and didn’t give up the lead for good until early in the third quarter.
“That was our plan,” Moser said. “We were going to run them up and down the court and really make them tired. We knew they weren’t as deep as us.”
The Knights were limited to a roster of eight. Colton concentrated its defense on junior Stormee Van Belle (16.5 ppg), who was held to six points, and senior Kara den Hoed (15.5 ppg), who went scoreless.
“We talked a lot about how we wanted to defend those two and I think we did a great job doing it,” Colton coach Clark Vining said.
Freshman Katelyn Banks scored 13 points to lead the Knights, who became the first team to score more than 31 points against Colton since Kamiah (Idaho) handed the Wildcats their lone loss of the season in late December.
Colton trailed 12-2 when Vincent and senior Kaitlin Druffel hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first quarter.
“We’ve been in this position three other times here, so we’re pretty good at keeping our composure,” Vincent said.
The Wildcats took their first lead (18-17) on junior Jackie Warner’s basket midway through the second quarter.
Sunnyside Christian led 24-19 with 1:20 left in the first half, but Colton patched together a 10-0 run between the second and third quarters and never trailed again.
Vincent’s 3-pointer with 5:50 left in the game started the Wildcats’ 18-1 run.
“Midway through the third quarter, it seemed like maybe (the Knights) were starting to get worn down a little bit,” Vining said. “They only play about six girls and maybe it was starting to be an issue.”
Vining put the latest title in perspective.
“They’re all tough, but I think with this one we had to persevere a little bit more, being down 10-0 to start that game.”
As for gunning for a sixth consecutive title, Moser was hopeful.
“We have a lot of young kids coming up and I think we can do it again,” she said.
“Every year you have seniors and you miss them a ton when they leave, but you have to kind of move on,” Vining said. “Next guy in, go from there.”