Chieftains roll to another lopsided victory
BRUSH PRAIRIE — This was too special for just the team.
The scene demanded that an invitation be extended to the parents as well.
Nothing new for the Columbia River boys basketball team. The coach says he does it every year about this time, after a big postseason win.
One, everyone involved hears the specifics of what comes next. Playoff basketball brackets and scheduling can get a little chaotic. This way, everyone is on the same page.
Two, let’s face it, this winning stuff is fun. Coaches and players want to share that experience.
So soon after Columbia River dispatched Ridgefield 65-41 in the Class 2A District 4 semifinals on Thursday night at Hockinson High School, players, coaches AND parents headed into the locker room for a celebration.
“Parents like to be there and see these moments,” Columbia River coach David Long said. “I want them to be part of that.”
Thursday’s win assured the Chieftains of a berth to the 2A state tournament. With their No. 2 RPI ranking, they will also be among the final 12 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
(After Thursday’s games, there are now nine teams from Clark County that have qualified for state. See notes and links below.)
Of course there is a matter of a district title for Columbia River. The Chieftains will face Black Hills at 8 p.m. Friday at St. Martin’s University in Lacey for the championship.
Advancing to the finals was never in doubt. Columbia River used a 19-0 run in the first quarter to take control, sending Ridgefield into the consolation semifinals. The Spudders will face Hockinson on Friday night in a loser-out game.
“Our defense really fueled that one,” Columbia River senior Evan Dirksen said of that first quarter. “Then on offense, we just moved the ball around and got good shots.”
“That was a great quarter,” Long said. “On both sides. Offense and defense, we were efficient.”
The Chieftains took more than half of their practice Wednesday focusing on Ridgefield’s attacking style. Long said his players executed the game plan to near perfection.
Dirksen finished 9 of 18 from the floor for the game, scoring a game-high 23 points. Nate Snook added 13 points to go with 11 rebounds.
“It helps that Evan boxes out the big guys,” said Snook a 6-foot guard. “I just come in and clean it up.”
Snook is one of those athletes who can make a positive impact even when he is struggling with his shot. Earlier this week in the tournament opener, he did not score. His defense, though, was on point all night.
On Thursday, though, he wanted to get in on the scoring fun.
“It felt good to see a shot go in. I just needed to see that first one go in,” Snook said.
That’s all it took.
“I felt good the rest of the game.”
He made back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter.
All the Columbia River starters were done just a minute or so into the fourth quarter. It was time to think about what’s ahead for this team.
“It means so much to us. We were there last year. We were happy, but thought we could do better,” Snook said of the state tournament. “It feels good that we get to go back this year and try to get another trophy.”
Columbia River placed sixth in state last season.
This year, a new leader stepped up, with Dirksen turning into a scoring machine.
“I can’t let myself get too confident,” said Dirksen, who was voted the co-Player of the Year of the 2A Greater St. Helens League along with Snook. “I remember sophomore and junior year just being a role player. I had to work hard to get to the top.”
The Chieftains reached the top of the league and now are hoping to finish on top at district. And they appear ready for another state tournament run.
The Clark County teams that have qualified for the state round of 16: Union boys, Camas girls, Prairie boys, Prairie girls, Columbia River boys, Washougal girls, La Center boys, King’s Way Christian boys, King’s Way Christian girls.
Battle Ground boys, Hudson’s Bay girls, Hockinson boys, Ridgefield boys, Columbia River girls, Woodland girls, Seton Catholic boys, La Center girls.
Class 4A boys
Battle Ground’s Kaden Perry scored on a put-back basket right before the final horn, saving Battle Ground’s season Thursday night with a 59-57 victory over Olympia in the consolation bracket of the bi-district tournament. The Tigers will now get two chances to qualify for state. They will play again Friday and Saturday, needing to win just once to make it to state. … Union, in the bi-district semifinals, already is going to state. The Titans face Federal Way on Friday. … Skyview’s season came to an end with a loss to Sumner on Thursday.
Class 4A girls
Union and Skyview saw their seasons end Thursday. Curtis beat Union in the consolation bracket and Hazen topped Skyview in the same round. … Camas had already clinched a berth to state. The Papermakers are in the bi-district semifinals and play Kentridge on Friday.
Class 3A boys
The bi-district tournament turned into a Greater St. Helens League coronation. League champion Kelso and runner-up Prairie have advanced to the championship game. The two teams, who split the regular-season matchups, had already clinched berths to state. They both won Thursday and will play each other Saturday for the bi-district title. … Mountain View lost by two points to Shelton in the consolation bracket, the season coming to an end for the Thunder.
Class 3A girls
The Hudson’s Bay Eagles, enjoying their best season in years, will get at least another day of their season. They crushed Bonney Lake 57-37 on Thursday in a consolation game. The Eagles will face league-foe Kelso in the consolation semifinals Friday. The Eagles must win two more to make it to state. … Prairie, already in the state tournament, is in the bi-district semifinals and will play Bethel on Friday.
Class 2A boys
The feature story above shows you that Columbia River has clinched a spot to state and is in the district championship game, to be played Friday. … Ridgefield fell into the consolation bracket. The Spudders will take on Hockinson on Friday in a loser-out game. Hockinson beat Tumwater 72-45 on Thursday to stay alive.
Class 2A girls
Beyonce Bea had 23 points and nine rebounds and Jaiden Bea added 15 points, and Washougal held off Tumwater 50-49 in the district semifinals, clinching their fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament. Washougal will face W.F. West on Friday at St. Martin’s University for the district title. … Columbia River and Woodland remain alive for a state berth, too. Columbia River beat Rochester 68-46 and Woodland topped Ridgefield 64-43 in consolation play. River will take on Black Hills and Woodland faces Tumwater on Friday. Those are loser-out games, as well.
Class 1A boys
Seton Catholic remains alive in the consolation bracket. The Cougars won their second game in as many days, this time topping Forks 84-69. They will play Saturday for the final playoff berth from District 4. … Meanwhile, La Center and King’s Way Christian have been patiently waiting to play the district championship game. They battle Friday night. Both have already clinched spots to state.
Class 1A girls
King’s Way Christian has advanced to the district title game and clinched a berth to state with a 61-57 victory over Montesano on Thursday. The Knights will play in the district title game Saturday. … Meanwhile, La Center still has hopes of a state berth. The Wildcats beat 58-39 on Thursday in a loser-out game. La Center needs to win two more games to make it to state.