Taholah’s girls will be facing a familiar opponent when they return to state on Thursday.
The Chitwhins (13-2) will take on Mount Vernon Christian (21-4) in a state Class 1B girls basketball quarterfinal scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Spokane Arena.
This will be Taholah’s second straight appearance in the state quarterfinals. Mount Vernon Christian was the team the Chitwhins beat at regionals to make it to state last year.
Taholah built up a big early lead in the 2013 regional contest, then withstood a late Mount Vernon Christian rally for a 64-60 triumph.
Returning several starters from that team, the Hurricanes have relied heavily on perimeter shooting. They hit 10 three-point baskets in a 47-38 victory over Waterville in Saturday’s regionals.
Jacqueline Case, whose 15 points against Waterville came entirely on three-balls, is MVC’s leading scorer for the season with a 12.4 point per game average. Grace Kuipers, who scored a team-high 16 points on Saturday, is averaging slightly over 10 points per game.
Minus much of an opportunity to scout Mount Vernon Christian, Taholah coach Freida Waugh said she will focusing on her own team’s play during pre-state practices.
“We’re just going to emphasize that we need to play hard and get out in transition,” Waugh said. “We need to be the Cinderella team that nobody expected to get this far.”
Without a senior on their roster, the Chitwhins had been projected as in something of a rebuilding mode after graduating several key performers from last year’s district championship team.
But while sophomore guard Trish Charley has provided most of the firepower and 6-foot sophomore Nichole Hidalgo much of the inside strength, Taholah has also received key contributions from the other members of its starting lineup — sophomores Karleena Walther and Marquel Waugh and the club’s lone junior, forward Rachel Cheney.
Sophomore Leeza James has been very effective in a sixth-woman role.
“One thing we have is pretty decent chemistry,” Waugh said. “These girls have been playing together since third grade. They know when to go inside and when to go outside.
“Our down side is our small bench, but we have a phenomenal sixth player who comes in and makes things happen,” she added.
The lack of depth — the Chitwhins traditionally only use seven players in close games — could be an important consideration during a tournament in which teams play three times in as many days.
Unlike last year, when they faced five-time state champion Colton in the quarterfinals, the Chitwhins appear to have received a favorable draw.
Fourth-rated Neah Bay is the only ranked team in Taholah’s half of the bracket. On the other half of the bracket, Colton takes on Tulalip Heritage in one quarterfinal, while No. 2 Wilbur-Creston and No. 3 Pateros collide in the other.
“I was pretty impressed with the draw we were graced with,” Waugh admitted.
State quarterfinal pairings:
3:45 p.m. — Neah Bay vs. Tekoa-Oakesdale. 5:30 p.m. — Taholah vs. Mount Vernon Christian. 7:15 p.m. — Pateros vs. Wilbur-Creston. 9 p.m. — Colton vs. Tulalip Heritage.
9 a.m. — Wellpinit vs. Pomeroy. 10:30 a.m. — Neah Bay vs. Tulalip Heritage. 12:15 p.m. — Colton vs. Cedar Park Christian (Mountlake Terrace). 2 p.m. — Three Rivers Christian vs. Shorewood Christian.
9 a.m. — Northwest Christian (Colbert) vs. Bear Creek. 10:30 a.m. — DeSales vs. Toutle Lake. 12:15 p.m. — La Conner vs. Colfax. 2 p.m. — Morton/White Pass vs. St. George’s.
3:45 p.m. — Lind-Ritzville/Sprague vs. Morton/White Pass. 5:30 p.m. — Bear Creek vs. Northwest Christian (Colbert). 7:15 p.m. — Onalaska vs. Liberty (Spangle). 9 p.m. — Mossyrock vs. St. George’s.
9 a.m. — Toledo vs. Seattle Academy. 10:30 a.m. — Cascade Christian vs. Zillah. 12:15 p.m. — Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) vs. Okanogan. 2 p.m. — Brewster vs. King’s.
3:45 p.m. — Kalama vs. Cashmere. 5:30 p.m. — Granger vs. Lynden Christian. 7:15 p.m. — King’s vs. Okanogan. 9 p.m. — Mabton vs. Blaine.
3:45 p.m. — Anacortes vs. White River. 5:30 p.m. — Mark Morris vs. Pullman. 7:15 p.m. — Clarkston vs. Lake Washington. 9 p.m. — Hockinson vs. Lynden.
9 a.m. — Chehalis vs. East Valley (Spokane). 10:30 a.m. — Port Angeles vs. Lynden. 12:15 p.m. — Lake Washington vs. Ellensburg. 2 p.m. — Mark Morris vs. White River.
At Tacoma Dome
9 a.m. — Wilson vs. O’Dea. 10:30 a.m. — Eastside Catholic vs. University. 12:15 p.m. — Stanwood vs. Bellevue. 2 p.m. — Rainier Beach vs. Shadle Park.
3:45 p.m. — Lincoln vs. Cleveland. 5:30 p.m. — Bellevue vs. Sunnyside. 7:15 p.m. — University (Spokane) vs. Bishop Blanchet. 9 p.m. — Wilson vs. Mercer Island.
At Tacoma Dome
9 a.m. — Kentwood vs. Lynnwood. 10:30 a.m. — Skyview vs. Gonzaga Prep. 12:15 p.m. — Arlington vs. Moses Lake. 2 p.m. — Inglemoor vs. Mount Rainier.
3:45 p.m. — Kentridge vs. Garfield. 5:30 p.m. — Issaquah vs. Jackson. 7:15 p.m. — Gonzaga Prep vs. Todd Beamer. 9 p.m. — Richland vs. Wenatchee.