It was their night.
Seniors Chelan Weiler, Jenny Pulido and Kelsey Kidd combined for 46 points Monday to lead Columbia High to a 59-46 victory over La Center on Senior Night, in a must-win Trico Division game for the Bruins.
"Those girls just picked us up and carried us," Bruins Coach Mike Yarnell said. "We might have to have Senior Night every night the way they played. They just wanted it really bad."
Weiler led Columbia with a season-high 19 points, while Pulido and Kidd both finished in double figures in scoring and rebounding. Pulido totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Kidd had a season-best 13 points to go with 10 boards.
The win pulled CHS (4-6 Trico, 9-8 overall) within a game of La Center (5-6, 6-13) in the win column, in the battle for the Trico Division's fourth SW Washington 1A district tournament berth. (The division gets four district entries.)
Columbia can earn its first district berth in 11 years with victories at Rochester on Tuesday and at home against Rochester on Friday, and a La Center loss to Ilwaco on Friday.
"That's been our goal since day one: getting to district," Yarnell said. "We're kind of in control of our own destiny. We've just got to take care of business."
CHS's first order of business in its drive for the district playoffs was beating La Center, a team it lost to by five points on Jan. 12.
The Bruins did just that by outscoring the Wildcats 32-13 in the second half.
Columbia turned the game decidely in its favor in the fourth quarter with a 10-point run that pushed its lead to 53-40 with just over 2 minutes remaining. La Center never got closer than nine points after that.
"I've always said, if we start to make our shots, we can be dangerous, and we were that last night," Yarnell said.
Columbia scored 12 of its 22 field goals after the break and ended the game with a 17-for-29 mark from the foul line in matching its season high for points in a game.
Pressure defense also played a crucial part in the Bruins' come-from-behind victory.
"The key difference between this game and the one we played down there, when we didn't press at all, was that we pressed the whole game," Yarnell said. "This was the first game all year that we pressed the whole game, and it worked out real well."
The Bruins collected 23 steals and forced 26 turnovers total. Pulido made seven steals and sixth man Michelle McMillen tallied five.
Moreover, Columbia out-rebounded La Center 39-29 (22-11 on the offensive boards).
CHS took the lead for good with 17 seconds left in the third quarter when Pulido scored on a putback that made it 39-37. The closest La Center got after that was 43-40 on a Shay Cheeseman 3-pointer with under 6 minutes to play.
La Center's largest lead of the night came in the second quarter. The Wildcats put together a nine-point run that netted them a 30-23 lead with 1:53 left in the first half.
They went into the break with a 33-27 advantage (despite turning the ball over 18 times), thanks to the scoring of Brooke Gaston and Hannah Trigg, and a 10-for-11 effort at the foul line.
Gaston scored 12 of her 16 points and Trigg had all 11 of her points before the intermission.
At Kalama 42, Columbia High 32:
The host Chinooks prevailed in Trico action last Thursday by outscoring the Bruins 12-6 in the fourth quarter.
Columbia trailed 22-18 at halftime and 30-26 after three quarters, and was down just 36-32 early in the fourth quarter before Kalama pulled away.
"It was the perfect game for us," Bruins Coach Mike Yarnell said. "It was low-scoring, our defense was great, we out-rebounded them 44-27, and we only had 10 turnovers. But when we needed to knock down some shots in the fourth quarter, they wouldn't fall."
Ericka Ziegler and Lacey Kruse paced the Bruins with 18 rebounds and nine points respectively.
Chelan Weiler added seven points, four steals and four assists, and Jenny Pulido had 10 rebounds, five points and four steals.