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Sunday, May 28, 2023
May 28, 2023

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Dialed in defensively, Columbia River girls lock up 2A regional berth

Rapids clinch regional spot for first time since 2016

By , Columbian staff writer

WOODLAND — It’s no surprise that in its biggest game of the season to date, the Columbia River Rapids were dialed in on defense.

After all, that’s been their identity all season. And yet, their 58-38 victory over Ridgefield on Wednesday to clinch a berth to the Class 2A regional round of state wasn’t the Rapids’ best performance of the season, third-year head coach Jesse Norris said postgame. 

In fact, the best is still yet to come, he said. 

“I feel like we’ve been playing some good basketball,” Norris said. 

One year after a five-win season, the Rapids (17-5 overall) are headed to the regional round of state for the first time doing so in its last season in Class 3A in 2016. It’s also just the third time since 1998 the program has reached this far into the postseason. 

River players reflected on that accomplishment and what reaching regionals means for a program fresh off its 2A Greater St. Helens League title two weeks ago and a 12-win improvement from 2021-22. The team now joins soccer (state title), volleyball (state title), bowling (state runners-up) by reaching state. 

“I think it’s pretty incredible to make that happen,” said senior guard Logann Dukes. “We came out with this fire because this game was all or nothing. I think we did an amazing job coming together, trusting our abilities and having confidence. I think to extend the season is amazing.”

The loss by Ridgefield, which finished fourth in the 2A GSHL, ends its season at 12-12. River swept the regular-season series with the Spudders, and both games resulted in one-possession final scores. Wednesday, defense paved the way in a big way for River behind 15 steals and pressure defense on the Spudders all 32 minutes. 

Freshman guard Gracie Glavin said the team continues to prioritize defense “because we know our defense can make offense.” During 16 league games, it held opponents to an average of 30.8 points per game. 

After three quarters, the Spudders had 26. 

“It’s all the energy we bring and team chemistry,” said sophomore guard Peyton Dukes. “We’ve always been super good at defense and that’s something we practice a lot and that helps us out so much.”

After allowing 13 first-quarter points to Ridgefield, River held the Spudders to 13 points for the next 16 minutes. It had its second 20-point lead of the night entering the fourth quarter, and Emma Iniguez’s four consecutive points pushed the lead to 50-26. 

Balance scoring led the River offense with Emma Iniguez’s 14 points, Logann Dukes’ 11 and 10 from Taegen Benke. Megan Weber led the Spudders with 11. 

As far as where the Rapids can go as one of two 2A GSHL teams to make regionals (Mark Morris), there’s only more room to grow, players and coaches said. 

“I think, honestly, the sky is the limit,” Logann Dukes said. “We have nothing to lose; we’ve never been this far. It’s a lot of excitement to be here and that mentality will help us see what we can make out of it.”


COLUMBIA RIVER — Marley Myers 2, Logann Dukes 9, Peyton Dukes 11, Paige Johnson 0, Camy Drake 0, Kinzi Drake 7, Emma Iniguez 14, Taegen Benke 10, Bree Gravel 0, Logan DeJong 0, Gracie Glavin 5. Totals 19 (16) 17-23 58.

RIDGEFIELD — Kylie Andrew 2, Savannah Chanda 5, Megan Weber 11, Avery Wilson 2, Elizabeth Swift 8, Kaylen Wingerd 0, Morgan Goode 2, Janessa Chatman 6, Brooke Larson 2. Totals 14 (12) 8-18 38.

Col. River 17 17 12 12 – 58

Ridgefield 13 6 7 12 – 38