Baker's spark helps River Ridge advance to regionals

Contributing writerFebruary 20, 2013 

CHEHALIS — All the River Ridge Hawks needed was a spark.

They got it off the bench from Catriece Baker, a 5-foot-5 senior whirlwind of activity.

Jazzlynn Brewster scored 22 points, and Savannah McGill added 16 as River Ridge prolonged its season by securing the 2A District IV’s No. 3 seed to regionals with a 60-44 victory over Centralia on Tuesday night at W.F. West High School.

The Hawks (18-5) will play South Puget Sound League 2A champion White River (21-4) in the loser-out, winner to state game. Tipoff is 6 p.m. Friday at Kent-Meridian High School.

The Tigers, who upset Washougal and Black Hills in the district tournament to advance to the winner-to-regionals contest, end their season at 11-12.

Rebecca Stevenson scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half for the Hawks, while Baker chipped in nine but made her biggest impact with her energetic defense, which forced Centralia into numerous turnovers.

“She doesn’t start, but she always finishes for us,” said River Ridge coach Jackie Robinson about Baker. “I know no matter when I put her in the game, she’s going to provide us with a spark. She’s just a ball of energy. We needed that tonight.”

Freshman Alyx Fast scored 21 points for the Tigers.

River Ridge missed 13 of its first 14 shots but took advantage of several offensive rebounds and a rash of early Centralia turnovers to post a 12-11 lead after the first quarter.

Brewster found her shot in the second quarter, scoring eight points and helping the Hawks parlay a 9-1 run into a 27-20 halftime lead.

River Ridge looked inside to start the second half as Stevenson scored six points in the paint during the Hawks’ second 9-1 run, which pushed the lead to 36-20.

A Fast 3-pointer cut the deficit to 49-40 with five minutes to play, but the Hawks answered with a 9-0 run to put the game away.

River Ridge bowed out in the regional round last season, losing to Port Angeles, 41-38.

“We’ve talked a lot about that loss (in last year’s regional round),” Robinson said. “We’re going to see how much we’ve grown since last year.”

Standing in the Hawks’ way for a state tournament berth will be a White River team that is coming off a 57-43 loss to Sumner in the West Central District championship game.

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