ELLENSBURG – Northwest Christian girls coach Talara Frost warned her team before Saturday’s 2B regional game that Willapa Valley wasn’t going to be wowed by the defending state runner-up Crusaders.
But it took 16 minutes of gritty Vikings resistance and a halftime speech wake-up call before NWC began to play like the battle tested team it is and the Crusaders rolled to a 64-40 win at Ellensburg High School.
The Crusaders (26-1) bounced back nicely from a shocking subregional loss to Colfax last Saturday. They advance to this week’s State 2B tournament at the Spokane Arena. Their opponent will be determined today.
The win came despite a tremendous no-quit performance on the part of the Vikings Karli Friese. The 5-foot-4 junior had 26 points from all over the floor and NWC simply couldn’t stop her.
“I told our girls Willapa Valley was going to keep scrapping and coming at us as long as we let them stay in the game,” Frost said. “We dug deep in the second half and got it done.”
The tight first half started turning into a war of attrition for NWC. Starters McKenzie Gray (ankle) and Treasure Farmer (shoulder) missed a big part of the second period after being injured. The Crusaders needed back-to-back 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the half to take a 25-22 lead into the locker room.
Farmer hit a long 3-pointer – one of a three she hit in the second half – with 5:04 left in the third period and 45 seconds later NWC had a 38-28 lead. Willapa Valley didn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Rachel Bozlee led NWC with 15 points, including four 3-pointers.