Columbia River stuns top-seed Washougal; Union boys, Prairie girls going to state
WASHOUGAL — The Columbia River Chieftains struggled early but always believed.
That is the story of their season, and it is the story of their magical Friday night.
Columbia River created a buzz around the girls basketball community, beating Washougal 50-45 to open the Class 2A District 4 tournament.
That would be the Columbia River team that finished fifth in a seven-team league, had to survive a play-in game just to make it to district, and then had to face Greater St. Helens League champion Washougal in the opener.
No problem. Not when a team starts to believe.
Erin Baker made four 3-pointers, Katie Kolbe had back-to-back defensive gems, and Jordan Ryan sealed the deal with a three-point play as the Chieftains dominated the final two minutes for a 50-45 victory.
This is the team that started the season 1-3. This is the team that opened league play with four consecutive losses. This is the team that lost to Washougal by 29 points in the first matchup of league play.
Actually, no it is not. The same players, in the same uniform, but a different team now.
“We started trusting each other more,” Kolbe said of the key to the season turnaround.
“We’ve been playing with more energy and toughness. We want it more now,” added Baker.
“And we believed,” Ryan said.
Columbia River (11-10) advances to the district semifinals to play Black Hills next week. The winner of that game is assured of a trip to the state regional round of 16.
Washougal (16-5) will have to win three in a row in the consolation bracket in order to advance to state for the third consecutive season.
For now, the 2A District 4 girls basketball world is all shook up, thanks to the Chieftains.
Washougal opened up a seven-point lead in the middle of the second quarter but that is as far as Columbia River would allow the margin to become.
“It was definitely a defensive effort,” Ryan said. “Defense is what separates us.”
River cut it to two points by the half, then Baker made back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half, the beginning of a wild third quarter. The teams traded leads six times in the period.
Washougal, though, got the final six points of the third to take a five-point lead.
“We kept telling ourselves we were still in the game,” Kolbe said.
Columbia River gained some confidence the second time against Washougal, too, losing by just a point last week in the regular season.
“We knew we could still beat them, and this was our chance to do it,” Kolbe said.
“One stop, one shot at a time,” Baker added.
River scored the first five points of the final quarter to tie it at 38. Then it was tied at 40, 42, and later at 45.
Baker’s final 3-pointer game Washougal a 45-44 lead.
Beyonce Bea, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds to lead Washougal, hit a free throw to tie with 1:46 to play.
It was all River from there.
Ryan made a free throw for a 46-45 advantage. Then it was Kolbe’s time to shine on the other end of the court. She blocked a Washougal shot and Ryan got her three-point play on the ensuing possession with 43 seconds left. Kolbe then stole the ball from the Panthers, setting up one more free throw.
This is how Columbia River sealed the win at Washougal. Blocked shot by Katie Kolbe in a one-point game, then a three-point play by Jordan Ryan. pic.twitter.com/wO50pqz5lM
— Paul Valencia (@ValenciaCCT) February 10, 2018
Columbia River coach Will Jones, in his first season with the team, said it took time for the players and him to rely on each other. Once they all believed, well, this is what can happen.
“It adds another layer of trust,” Jones said. “As a coach, you tell kids stuff, and you want it to work. You ask for their trust. When the game plan works, it adds another layer of trust.”
For Columbia River, the win in the play-in game earlier in the week added at least two more games to the schedule.
Now that the Chieftains have won the first one, they have added a chance, a real chance, to go to state.
More game notes: Beyonce Bea was 9 for 18 from the floor for her 24 points. Skyler Bea had eight points and eight rebounds. Tiana Barnett scored all eight of her points in the second half for Washougal. … Ryan scored 14 points to lead three River players in double figures. Baker finished 4 of 7 from 3-point range and had 13 points. Kolbe was 5 for 8 from the floor and scored 11.
The “I Believe” moment: Jordan Ryan scored on a tough shot with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, and gave a celebratory fist pump on her way back down the court to play defense. The basket gave River a 33-32 lead, but it was her reaction that seemed even more important.
Later, she said it was her way of showing via emotion that her team was not going to back down on this night, that her team was going to fight until the end.
“After we made a certain amount of shots, we said, ‘OK, we can do this.’”
The Union Titans are going back to the state tournament, and the Skyview Storm are still alive.
Union beat Auburn 61-43 in the bi-district tournament to advance to the semifinals. The win assured the Titans a spot in the state regional round of 16. And even though it is not official yet, the Titans will be going to the Tacoma Dome. Union’s RPI (No. 3 as of this writing) will be high enough to assure being among the final 12 teams for the final week of the season..
This will be the fourth consecutive trip to the dome for the Titans.
Ethan Smith made four 3-pointers and led Union with 18 points.
Skyview survived its first consolation game, taking down Auburn Mountainview 60-49. Jovon Sewell scored 16 points to pace the Storm.
Union will face Federal Way in the bi-district semifinals on Wednesday.
Skyview will play Monday, taking on Auburn in another loser-out game.
The Prairie Falcons made it to the state round of 16 for the 21st consecutive season. They rolled in a bi-district quarterfinal with a 70-18 win over Timberline. Prairie will face Lincoln in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Hudson’s Bay and Evergreen had their game moved to Saturday at Heritage High School as part of a doubleheader. The girls play at 4 p.m., and then the Bay and Evergreen boys play their consolation bracket game at 6 p.m.
Black Hills defeated Hockinson 59-51 to advance to play Columbia River in the semifinals. On a happier note for Hockinson, Payton Wangler scored her 1,000th career point. Hockinson must take on top-seed Washougal in the consolation bracket next week.
Woodland also fell to the consolation bracket, falling to W.F. West. Woodland will next play Centralia.
It’s going to be an Clark County semifinal in the Class 1A District 4 tournament.
Top-seed La Center had no trouble beating Elma on Friday night, securing a 75-42 victory. Seton Catholic topped Forks 65-62.
La Center and Seton Catholic will play Tuesday night at King’s Way Christian High School. The winner will qualify for state.
A third county team had already qualified for the semifinals. King’s Way Christian won on Thursday and will play Montesano at Hoquiam High School on Tuesday.