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Ridgefield girls earn first state berth since 2007

Spudders' 63-35 win over Washougal is team's 19th win of season

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 14, 2024, 10:26pm

HOCKINSON — The Ridgefield Spudders didn’t have to look far when it came to questions about the girls basketball program’s state tournament drought. 

Because, as it turned out, head coach Lauren Hefflin was the best person to ask. She was the Spudders’ starting center on the program’s last state-qualifying team in 2006-07. 

“I even brought it up at practice (Tuesday),” the coach said. 

Perhaps it was fitting the Spudders needed the reminder, too ahead — and postgame — of Wednesday’s winner-to-state 2A district game against Washougal, a game in which Ridgefield won, 63-35, at Hockinson High School to clinch the program’s first state berth in 16 seasons. It was the first for Ridgefield since Hefflin, as a player, helped Ridgefield to fourth consecutive state berths from 2004-07 before going onto play collegiately at Western Washington University. 

Jalise Chatman led the Spudders with 14 points as one of three Ridgefield players in double figures. Savannah Chanda added 12 and Elizabeth Swift had 11. 

Swift, a senior who also had five steals Wednesday, the feeling of reaching state is something special, she said. 

“It’s joy,” she said, “but it’s also a little bit of a coming-to moment. We’ve been talking about this for months and now it’s here.”

In Hefflin’s two seasons as coach after taking over a seven-win Spudders program, Ridgefield climbed the league standings and reached the postseason in back-to-back seasons. 

What made Hefflin believe this year’s squad were ready to take that next step beyond districts to be a state-bound team is that her players believed it. 

“That was their goal this year,” the coach said, “and we’d love to be different. … Let’s break that barrier. It’s been their conversation this whole time.”

The Spudders started off the season with nine straight wins, including victories over 4A Skyview and 3A Prairie. Its only losses were to league foes Columbia River and a district playoff defeat to W.F. West earlier this week. 

In order to reach state, they’d have to face a league opponent for the third time this season, and second time in 11 days. In fact for Washougal, Wednesday was the Panthers’ fifth game in eight days, yet raced out to early leads of 8-0 and 14-5. Ridgefield, though, rallied back to take its first lead of the game at 21-20 with 2 minutes left in the first half. 

That set the stage for what was to come in the final 16 minutes. 

And it started with defense by the Spudders. 

Janessa Chatman began the third quarter with a steal that set up Swift’s 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. Then, Swift’s steal near mid-court eventually led to Chanda’s old-fashioned 3-point play. In all, the Spudders had seven steals in the third quarter, including three from Swift over a three-minute span. Ridgefield’s first double-digit lead came quickly at 31-21 and by the start of the fourth quarter, the lead grew to 45-25. 

“It goes back to playing for each other,” Swift said of the team’s defensive pressure, “and that mindset is, ‘I’m going to get that steal because I trust I’ve got backup behind me.’”

At 19-3 entering state next weekend, no Ridgefield team has had that many wins since Hefflin’s senior season when that team finished 18-8. 

Swift knows just how special this season is. And it’s still continuing. 

“It makes me proud,” she said, “but also we’ve done the work and the group of girls and with coach Lo, it makes my heart happy. And we’ve come from a different spot and we’ve created what Spudder culture and Spudder girls basketball is going to be and I hope it continues in the future.”

RIDGEFIELD 63, WASHOUGAL 35

RIDGEFIELD — Abigail Vance 5, Savannah Chanda 12, Ellie Petersen 4, Jalise Chatman 14, Morgan Goode 1, Elizabeth Swift 11, Kaylen Wingerd 5, Janessa Chatman 7, No. 34 3. Totals 23 (6) 10-17 63.

WASHOUGAL — Addilyn Gibbons 1 Isabella Albaugh 4 Jenna Klopman 10, Ireland Albaugh 14, Bre Alldrin 2, Teja Slyter 2, Catherine Dewey 2. Totals 13 (3) 6-14 35.

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Ridge 8 17 20 18 – 63

Wash 14 6 5 10 – 35

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