Miller Memorial Gym was filled with the air of anticipation last Friday as Columbia High's girls basketball team warmed up for its Trico Division and regular-season finale against Rochester.
The game was important in one very key respect: a Bruins win would send Columbia to its first district tournament since 1996. (A loss would have forced CHS into a playoff with La Center.)
A minute into the fourth quarter, anticipation of a victory turned to concern about a possible upset as the visiting Warriors took a 30-29 edge--their first lead since 8-6 late in the first quarter.
But the Bruins pulled themselves together and closed out a 40-35 victory with an 11-5 run that featured five points by Ericka Ziegler, four by Chelan Weiler and two by Kelsey Kidd.
"It wasn't pretty," said Bruins Coach Mike Yarnell afterward, "but it was a win, and all we were looking for was a win."
Columbia (6-6 in Trico, 11-8 overall) took the lead for good with 3:49 remaining, when Ziegler rebounded Kidd's missed free throw and put it back for a 33-31 Bruins advantage.
Ziegler finished with a game-high 14 points and Weiler added 13 to lead the Bruins to their third straight win (and third of the week) and a berth in the SWW Class 1A district tournament.
That tournament, which concludes next Saturday in Kelso, begins tonight with first-round games in Centralia and Longview.
Columbia, the No. 4 seed from the SWW 1A League's Trico Division, will open against Toledo (17-3), the No. 1 team out of the league's Evergreen Division, at 8 p.m. in Centralia.
After that, the Bruins will play again on Saturday in Centralia, at 8 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., against Kalama (13-6) or Onalaska (9-7).
The top four teams from the double-elimination tournament will advance to Yakima for the Feb. 28-March 3 state finals in the SunDome.
Columbia High 47, at Rochester 25:
The Bruins moved a step closer to clinching a district playoff spot with their convincing road win Feb. 6.
Columbia started quickly, building a 16-5 first-quarter lead, thanks to six points each by Jenny Pulido and Lacey Kruse.
It extended its lead to 29-11 by halftime as Kruse hit for five points in the second quarter and Pulido put in four.
Kruse finished with career-high totals in points (15), rebounds (13) and steals (5). Pulido ended up with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Chelan Weiler contributed four points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists, and Ericka Ziegler added 10 steals and six points.