The Colton Wildcats are back on top.
After missing the state championship game last season for the first time in 10 years, the Wildcats used its depth to beat the Pomeroy Pirates 44-37 to capture their ninth 1B title.
It was the fourth victory over the Pirates this season for Colton.
“This feels great,” a relieved Colton Head Coach Clark Vining said. “Beating Pomeroy four times is tough. It’s one of those games you just have to gut it out.”
Colton raced out to an 11-0 lead to start the game. Pomeroy started to claw back in the second quarter, using a quick 6-0 run to cut Colton’s lead to 20-16. Pomeroy held Colton to just two field goals in the second quarter.
Pomeroy’s Sydney Smith shadowed Colton’s leading scorer Dakota Patchen all night, denying her opportunities and rarely getting more than a few inches from the Colton star. Despite the tough defense, Patchen still scored 17 points to lead Colton.
Patchen expected it and admitted it was a frustrating way to play.
“I knew my team had my back the whole time,” she said. “We practiced for it.”
Her coach helped keep her grounded as the game got tense.
“I told her at halftime to just relax and do your thing,” Vining said. “Just don’t get caught up in the face guarding. She hit some huge threes down the stretch.”
Emily Schultheis chipped in with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Sydney Smith led Pomeroy with 11 points. Emma Severs had 10.
Both teams made it difficult on each other throughout the game. Colton shot just 38 percent from the field and Pomeroy shot just 31 percent. The Wildcats made six 3-pointers and three of them came at a crucial time in the fourth quarter.
Pomeroy got five quick points to start the fourth quarter to cut Colton’s lead to 33-29. Patchen then hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats some breathing room. The teams traded baskets but Pomeroy could never get closer then three points.
Patchen hit three from beyond the arc and two in a row in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
This is the first title for Vining with a daughter on the team. Freshman Rylee Vining starts at the guard position.
“They’re all special but boy, this one is extra special,” Vining said.
Colton’s ninth title might not be their last: The Wildcats only graduate one player in Georgia Meyer.