With their season on the line, the White Swan girls dug deep and produced a winning effort against fifth-ranked Colfax to advance to the Class 2B girls state tournament.
So what was the Cougars’ reward for their gritty effort?
Top-ranked Reardan in Thursday’s quarterfinals in the Spokane Arena.
“For some reason, I knew we would get them,” White Swan coach Don Jones said of the two-time defending 2B state champions. “But it is what it is.”
In this case, “it” is not just another quality opponent, but one led by Arizona State University-bound Kelsey Moos.
“Everything they run is designed to get her the ball,” Jones said of the 5-foot-11 senior. “Everything runs through her.”
But Jones expressed confidence that his young team — there’s no seniors — will turn in a determined performance against the undefeated Indians (24-0).
“We were a longshot to be going (to state) but we made it,” Jones said. “They’ve overcome a lot of obstacles and have really gelled. These kids have a lot of heart and I think we can bring home a trophy.”
If they do, it would be the third straight for the Cougars, who were sixth in 2011 and fifth last season.
Any shot of starting that trophy quest on a winning note begins by trying to at least slow down Moos, with Jones’ daughter Kayla drawing the primary defensive assignment.
“Kayla did a good job on Colfax’s best player,” he said, “so I’m hoping she can do that again.”
But Kayla Jones’ effort will be just one piece of White Swan’s overall defensive pressure.
“To have any chance, we have to stick with what works for us,” Don Jones said of their full-court press, which is led by juniors Kaylei Ryan and Rennae Bill. “They play hard and smart. Ryan is quick. She’s the key to our press and they’re our leaders.”
White Swan complements that defense with a solid offense, led by sophomores Jones and Emily Botkin, who combined to average 26.2 points during the regular season, and had 27 in the Cougars’ 41-40 upset of Colfax.
“We have to sell out and we usually do that every year at state,” Jones said of his team’s all-out efforts. “We’re going to go over and give it the best shot we can.”