COULEE CITY — Almira/Coulee-Hartline coach Mike Correia calls his bunch a no frills, no sparkles, no bells and whistles, working-class team. They just pick up their hammer and go to work.
A year ago, the Warriors were the 1B state tournament giant killers, handing Tacoma Baptist its first loss of the season in the quarterfinals. Then, doing the unimaginable in beating eight-time 1B state champion Colton in the semifinals.
By the time the young team with just one senior was done slugging its way through the higher echelon, they had nothing left for Republic in the championship.
This season, No. 7 ACH (22-2) can avoid that 1B play-in game on Wednesday if they can take care of business against No. 2 Pomeroy (18-5) in Saturday night’s regional round of the 1B tournament, 8 p.m., at Pullman High School.
“We’ve been searching for some consistency all year and I think we have a little better idea of who we are and what it takes to win,” Correia said. “We’re just a blue-collar team with no sparkles. It takes everybody to make it work.”
Tiffany Boutain runs the offense. The 5-foot-4 senior point guard is averaging 12 points per game and 3.2 assists. Gabi Isaak has been a regular at the War Memorial Spokane Arena since starting as a freshman. The 5-10 junior leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and 11.2 boards a game.
“Our real staple this season is defense,” Correia said. “We don’t move our feet well enough to play zone, so we just line up and play match-up man and get after it.
“We’ve won games where we’ve scored 43 points and we’ve won games were we’ve scored 75. We have the kids to put up decent numbers, but that’s been part of the inconsistency this season. But the one thing that has been consistent is how hard we play off defense.”
The Warriors had winning streaks of 10 and six during the regular season. They go into Saturday night’s regional on a five-game roll. Last season, ACH lost to Republic in regionals and had to play an extra game on Wednesday in Spokane. They can avoid that with a win over Pomeroy.
“I’d say right now, we’re in a better mindset at this point in the season,” Correia said. “The kids believe in themselves and we prepare hard for each game. There’s some on-court adjustments on my part, but for the most part, the kids are ready before they step on the floor.