No. 1 Gervais pulls away from Colton in defensive grind, 34-14
Heading into its regular season home finale, the Gervais girls basketball team boasted the state's second best defense at the 2A level. But the Colton Vikings were eager to prove they were every bit up the challenge of taking on the No. 1 Cougars and had a defense of their own to be reckoned with.
The two Tri-River rivals stifled each other on either end of the court and combined to score just 22 points in the first half before Gervais (19-3, 10-2 2A Tri-River) went on a third quarter run to pull away for the 34-14 victory on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
"We knew Colton was going to come out hard because they wanted the 2-seed," Gervais forward Bella Vasquez said. "So we had to come out harder."
The lone senior for the Cougars this year, Vasquez was recognized by the team and fans prior to the game, turning the traditional Senior Night into Bella Night with commemorative t-shirts speckled throughout the stands and on the bench.
Colton (12-10, 7-5) was looking to play the role of spoilers, though. After falling 47-18 to Gervais at their place three weeks prior, the Vikings had won eight of their past nine games to move above .500, holding all but two of their opponents under 40 points in that span.
"The cool thing is its been different girls every game throughout the last half of the season," Colton head coach Val Wakefield said. "Almost every game it's been a different defensive MVP every night."
Against Gervais, it was sophomore post Olivia Haines who stymied the Cougars in the middle, opening the quarter with a pair of blocks and turning back the Cougars' drives to the middle throughout the contest.
"It's been just a process this season getting her to be disciplined," Wakefield said. "The second half of the season (Haines) and some other girls have really bought into that help side and helping each other out. She was great inside presence tonight."
Gervais opened the contest with a 6-1 lead after the first quarter, but a pair of 3-pointers from Colton senior Madi Olsen in the second period cut the Cougars' advantage to 9-7. Gervais was able to muster a 6-0 run to end the quarter on a trio of buckets from Vasquez and juniors Katie Hanson and Lilly Welburn to make it 15-7 going into the half, but Colton's defense was proving effective against a Gervais team that has put up 60 or more points in 13 games this season.
"We had to bring up our offense, because we were a little slacking there," Vasquez said. "The second half we had to come out stronger, because they were playing pretty good defense."
The Cougars did just that.
After an opening bucket from Olsen to cut Colton's deficit to 15-9, the Cougars went on a 14-2 run over the final six minutes and change, turning a relatively close ball game into a comfortable 29-11 lead heading into the final quarter.
Junior guard Araceli Vasquez scored a pair of buckets to open the fourth, and the two teams went back to grinding it out over the final six minutes, combined for just two made free throws and a field goal to close the game.
Araceli Vasquez was the lone player in double figures with 10 points, followed by six from Bella Vasquez and five each from Hanson and Welburn.
Olson had nine to lead the Vikings.
It was Gervais' first sweep of Colton in league play since the 2012-13 season when both programs were in the 3A PacWest Conference, something the Cougars were eager to complete after falling by one to the Vikings at home last year.
"(Head Coach Kyle) Buse taught us to have a better mindset. Last year we'd let them get to us. We'd think, 'Well we're winning so why do we need to play hard?" Bella Vasquez said. "Buse has taught us no matter what we have to play hard. We want to show that we're No. 2 in league and we want to be No. 1."
While the loss was a setback for Colton, the Vikings still hold a one-game lead over Western Christian (10-11, 6-6) and Santiam (9-13, 6-6) for third place in the league standings behind the Cougars and No. 2 Kennedy Trojans (18-4, 12-0).
"We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in here, because Gervais is a very good team," Wakefield said. "Defensively I'm super proud of my girls for how hard they played. That's been a huge part of the whole second half of the season has been the defense."
Gervais was scheduled to travel to Western Christian on Friday for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.
Colton was scheduled to travel over the pass to face Culver (2-18, 0-11) on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Tri-River Conference Girls Basketball
Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Gervais High School
GERVAIS 6 9 14 5 — 34
COLTON 1 6 4 3 — 14
Gervais (34) — A. Vasquez 10, I. Vasquez 6, Hanson 5, Welburn 5, I. Contreras 4, Villegas 2, Boyd 1, Perez 1
Colton (14) — Olson 9, Haines 3, Spencer 2
Gervais — N/A
Colton — Olson 2
Gervais — 6/10
Colton — 2/6
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