Ellensburg wears down Indians
Big fourth quarter propels Bulldogs to YakimaNothing came easy for scrappy, undersized Colville High in the Indians’ 2A regional girl’s basketball game at Big Bend Community College (Moses Lake) last Saturday night against third-ranked Ellensburg.Ellensburg held game Colville (18-6), the second-seed from District 7 2A (Great Northern League) to 15 second half points and only six in the pivotal fourth quarter of a 51-36 win.Colville trailed by two points heading into the fourth quarter. Ellensburg outscored the Indians 19-6 in the period.The win, the Bulldogs’ 14th straight, sends EHS into the State 2A Tournament of eight Thursday through Saturday at the SunDome in Yakima. EHS will open at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday against Lake Washington.Maison Moffat led four Bulldogs (20-3) in double figures against Colville. She scored a game-high 14 points. Gese Gruber added 12, while Lexi Bland and Alexa Orcutt chipped in with 11 each for a well-rounded Ellensburg team.Gruber, a force in the middle, also pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots.Main leads waySenior guard Taryn Main led CHS with 13 points. Fellow senior Sadie Learn added 10.Colville did everything it could to prepare for easily the tallest and most talented team the Indians have faced all winter. Head coach Greg Mace even brought in members of the CHS boy’s basketball team to prepare for the Bulldogs.“I felt like we were very prepared to play them,” Mace said on Monday, reflecting on his very successful first season as head coach in Colville. “Bringing in the boys last week for practice really helped. They helped us speed up our game a lot.”Still, it’s tough to prepare for that kind of siz that Ellensburg brought to the floor—two active, 6-foot-1 front-court players. “It was tough…I just felt that we got worn down. Their size was a killer,” Mace said. Quicker Colville turned Ellensburg over 18 times and battled hard inside, but in the end, Ellensburg’s dominating work inside took a toll. Colville was out-rebounded by 16.“We defended well initially,” Mace said. “But those put-backs (offensive rebounding) really hurt.”Time to reload Colville athletics moves into the Northeast A League next fall for at least a four-year cycle. Mace and his staff will be moving into the NEA with a rebuilding (or reloading) program underway. The Indians lose seven seniors: Taryn Main, Tyra Brons, Jessi Wittmeyer, Sadie Learn, Malia Luu, Courtney Rainer and McKenna Cabbage.Mace took a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of his seniors-dominated group.“The girls were upset after the game, as you would expect them to be,” Mace added. “But they had a very good season…there is nothing to be ashamed of.”In the old 16-team format, the Indians would have gotten their full meal deal State 2A Tournament experience under the (Sun) Dome. CHS was one of the 16 teams remaining in the tournament last Saturday night. But the WIAA has ditched the popular (with fans, coaches, players and pretty much everybody but the WIAA brass itself) 16-team, four-day format at one site for the hybrid eight-team Hardwood Classic that gets underway Thursday at the SunDome in Yakima (1A & 2A), at The Veterans’ Memorial Arena in Spokane (small schools) and at the Tacoma Dome (3A & 4A).“I feel badly for the girls that they didn’t get to experience that (State at the Dome),” Mace said.Mace had nothing but praise for a varsity roster that had to assimilate some new concepts and coaching philosophies this winter under Mace. “After the season and what we had accomplished sunk in, I realized just how great a group of kids I was fortunate enough to coach,” he said. “They had to learn a lot of new things…they did everything we as coaches asked…and we got better as the season went on.”Mace also thanked his assistant coaches for their work and to a parents’ support group “that was wonderful...the support we got from our parents was just great.”More shots for CHSOne interesting statistic from Saturday night’s game at Big Bend was that Colville got up 12 more shots than Ellensburg (53 to 41). But while the Indians were hitting only 25 percent from the field, Ellensburg hit 44 percent of its field goal attempts.The state berth for Ellensburg was the first since the Bulldogs finished fourth in 2010. Ellensburg coach Kerri Fahey said she was pleased with the way the Bulldogs stepped up on a big stage.“It took us a little while to get going, but we put it together when we needed to,” Fahey said. “Colville is a really athletic team. They were very well prepared, but we did not give them anything easy and it started to wear on them.”EHS 51, Colville 36CHS 11 10 9 6— 36EHS 9 15 8 19—51Colville—Brons 2, Wittmeyer 5, Learn 10, Cabbage 6, T. Main 13.Ellensburg—Gruber 12, Moffat 14, Gibson 3, Bland 11, Orcutt 11.