The basketball season is a learning process, even in the postseason.
That’s why the Columbia River girls basketball team took two lessons from its 61-56 loss to Black Hills on Friday in the first round of the 2A district tournament.
First, the Chieftains learned they can get up after being knocked down. Trailing by 18 points in the second quarter, River pulled as close as 55-54 with 1:23 to play.
But also, River learned that winning in playoff basketball requires four full quarters. The Chieftains spent the entire game trying to claw back after starting 2 for 13 from the field and being vastly outrebounded in the first half.
“I told them, we need to get into the gameplan earlier,” Columbia River coach Will Jones said. “I’m proud of the effort though.”
Columbia River (16-5) will take those lessons into the loser-out side of the district bracket. The Chieftains must win three consecutive games to reach regionals, starting Monday against R.A. Long at Ridgefield High.
Columbia River entered Friday as the No. 11 team in the 2A RPI rankings after finishing second in the 2A Greater St. Helens League.
But Black Hills, which finished third in the Evergreen Conference, was the aggressor from the start. Six-foot post Addie Ainsworth scored 15 points in the first half, many coming after offensive rebounds. That saw Black Hills (16-5) open a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter.
“In the playoffs, you can’t be in a hole like that,” Jones said.
The second half was a different story. Six straight points by Jordan Ryan and two 3-pointers by Sydney Flores-Tucker saw the Chieftains pull within 44-42 inside the final minute of the third quarter.
“A big part of it was our bench keeping us calm and telling us we can keep doing it play by play,” said Flores-Tucker.
Black Hills stretched the lead to 55-47 in the fourth quarter, but four points by Ellie Christian and a Sami Myers 3-pointer pulled River within 55-54 with 1:23 left.
But back-to-back baskets by Jordyn Bender and Ainsworth, who scored a game-high 25 points, put the game away for Black Hills. The Wolves face Evergreen champ and cross-town rival Tumwater in the district semifinals with a regional berth on the line.
“We switched our defense a little and we boxed out a lot better in the second half,” Jones said. “But hats off to them. They played hard. It’s playoff basketball and it’s a borderline fight. We didn’t fight in the first quarter.”
BLACK HILLS 61, COLUMBIA RIVER 56
BLACK HILLS (16-5) — Paige Corbin 0, Megan River 11, Jordyn Bender 6, Abbey Bigler 0, Madison Parker 3, Olivia Hisaw 0, Mia Flores 14, Cassady MacWhorter 0, Addie Ainsworth 25, Riley Thoemmes 2, Kaitlyn Carson 0. Totals 23 (6) 9-15 61.
COLUMBIA RIVER (16-5) — Dejah Wilson 12, Sami Myers 3, Lily Jonas 3, Sydney Flores-Tucker 9, Bailey Gatten 2, Isabelle Fink 0, Ari Kuschner 4, Jordan Ryan 16, Ellie Christian 7. Totals 16 (8) 16-20 56.
Black Hills 18 17 12 14–61
Col. River 7 15 20 14–56