LONGVIEW — The Columbia River girls basketball team has a drill in practice called perfect defense, which earns the defense a point for perfect play.
On Monday against Black Hills, perfect defense helped the Rapids earn three points.
Turnovers on the defensive end turned into 3-pointers on the offensive side in the second half as River pulled away for a 47-33 win over Black Hills in a Class 2A district semifinal at Mark Morris High School.
“It’s intense,” junior guard Marley Myers said. “We try to go like a 100 percent at practice all the time. Defense is our main priority.”
Monday’s semifinal was a perfect game for that. River gutted out a 19-11 lead at halftime after defensive first half.
And that suited the Rapids just fine.
“We like to be aggressive; we like to get steals,” senior Emma Iniguez said. “We have amazing defenders — Paige (Johnson), Marley, Peyton (Dukes). Paige is short, but she has long arms.”
Myers added: “Paige is the scrappiest defender I’ve ever meet. It’s always intense at practice.”
In the third quarter, the Rapids created steals on defense which led to late 3-pointers by Dukes and Myers as River took a 34-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
After Black Hills closed within 36-31 in the fourth, more turnovers led to 3s by Myers and Iniguez as the Rapids closed out the win.
“We know we have shooters,” Iniguez said. “If the drive isn’t there, we can kick out and it’s going to be open. Marley’s a great shooter, so we have her all the time there. (Coach Tee Anderson) said to toe the line. That means get ready for the kickout and shoot.”
Myers led the Rapids with 13 points, while Iniguez added 11 — all in the second half.
The Rapids secured a berth to the 2A state playoffs with the win. River will face W.F. West for the district title on Friday at Kelso High School.
And it all started with intensity of defense.
“The whole game, you could tell we just wanted it more,” Myers said. “And it paid off. We’re going to state, and we’re all really excited.”
W.F. WEST 58, RIDGEFIELD 39 — The Bearcats’ inside-outside game wore down the Spudders in the other semifinal Monday at Mark Morris.
Ridgefield did a solid job of defense on the Bearcats’ 6-foot-3 junior post Julia Dalan in the first half, keeping the Spudders close at 23-21 at halftime.
But a pair of 3-pointers and scoring drives by freshman guard Dylin Boeck open things up for Dalan in the third quarter as the Bearcats started to pull away.
Back-to-back drives by Boeck gave W.F. West a 42-32 lead after three quarters. The Bearcats then opened the fourth quarter with 8-0 run to seal it.
Dalan finished with a game-high 16 points. Boeck added 12 points as four Bearcats were in double figures.
Savannah Chanda scored 11 to lead the Spudders, who will face Washougal in a winner-to-state game on Wednesday at Hockinson.