It's a done deal.
No matter what it does this week in its final two SWW 1A Trico Division games, Columbia High's girls basketball team is going back to the post-season for the third-straight year.
The Bruins (3-6, 10-8) locked up fourth place in Trico standings last Thursday with a 49-45 Senior Night victory over visiting Kalama (1-8, 1-14).
Columbia took the lead for good with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter--at 44-42--when Lacey Kruse, who finished with a game-high 22 points, scored from the low post off an entry pass from Taryn Struck.
Kruse and Struck hooked up on a similar play moments later to put CHS on top, 46-42.
But Kalama, which lost to CHS by 16 points the first time the teams met, wasn't ready to give it up. The Chinooks' Tailor Wood-Loree got free for a 3-pointer that made it a one-point game.
Adrianne DeLay countered on CHS's next possession, however, sinking a 3-ball that accounted for the last points of the night.
Early on, though, the Bruins looked to be in trouble as the Chinooks scored the game's first four points en route to a 13-3 lead after one quarter.
But Columbia shook off its malaise in the second quarter, stepping up the pressure defensively--Kalama had eight turnovers in the period--and getting the ball on offense inside to Kruse.
By the time the period ended, the Bruins held a 24-21 edge as Kruse scored nine points, and DeLay and Laurel Huth each tallied six in the first half of action.
At the outset of the third quarter, Columbia got a steal and layin from Huth and a running 15-footer from Rachel Connolly to stretch its lead to 28-21.
Kalama refused to fold, however. The Chinooks kept it close until surging toward quarter's end with a 5-1 run that netted them their first lead since late in the second quarter, at 36-35.
CHINOOKS 45 (13-8-17-7) --
Jessica Shagool 10, Wood-Loree 8, Parris 8, Bellows 7, Palmer 4, Saracco 3, Massey 3, Vossen 2, Denton 0, Campbell 0. FGs: (2) 15 (Shagool 5); (3) 3 (Wood-Loree 2). FTs: 6/10, 60.0% (Bellows 3/4). Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 12.
BRUINS 49 (3-21-11-14) --
Lacey Kruse 22, DeLay 8, Huth 7, Struck 6, Connolly 4, McMillen 2. FGs: (2) 19 (Kruse 8); (3) 1 (Huth). FTs: 8/16, 50.0% (Kruse 6/11, DeLay 2/4). Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 9.
Columbia JV 28, Kalama JV 24.
La Center 56, at Columbia High 45:
The Bruins led the Feb. 3 Trico game, 13-10, after one quarter but played catch-up the rest of the way after going cold from the field and falling behind by 14 points in the second.
Columbia started out by making 6-of-12 shots in the first quarter but hit only 1 of 11 in the second as La Center heated up and surged ahead, 31-17.
In the third quarter, the Bruins made 8-of-17 shots from the field and got 12 points from Lacey Kruse that helped close the gap to 43-34 heading into the final eight minutes.
La Center (6-2, 13-4) held the lead in the fourth quarter, though--even improved on it--without attempting a single free throw.
For Columbia, Kruse tallied a game-high 21 points. La Center had three players score in double figures, led by Melissa Moore's 17.
WILDCATS 56 (10-21-12-13) --
Melissa Moore 17, Hannah Trigg 16, Lauren Baker 15, Wise 4, Chamberlain 2, Monson 2. FGs: (2) 17 (Trigg 7); (3) 5 (Baker 4). FTs: 7/9, 77.8% (Moore 4/4). Rebounds: 26 off.-23 def./49. Fouls: 14.
BRUINS 45 (13-4-17-11) --
Lacey Kruse 21, Connolly 8, Struck 8, DeLay 5, McMillen 2, DeVore 1, Huth 0. FGs: (2) 16 (Kruse 10); (3) 3 (Connolly 2). FTs: 4/9, 44.4% (Struck 2/2). Rebounds: 12 off.-22 def./34 (Kruse 12, Struck 8). Assists: 12 (McMillen 4). Steals: 7 (Kruse, McMillen 2). Turnovers: 17. Fouls: 9.
La Center JV won.
Columbia plays the second game of a Trico varsity double-header at Ilwaco Friday, then will play a Southwest District play-in game next Tuesday or Wednesday, at a site and time to be determined, against the fifth-place team from the SWW 1A League's Evergreen Division. At press time, Forks, Onalaska and Montesano were still jockeying for third and fourth places and an automatic district berth. But the loser of that race will still have a shot at getting to district by playing Columbia for the Trico's fourth spot.