CONNELL -- The Connell Eagles have been in this position pretty much the entire season: preparing to play a team with a lot more size.
The Eagles face off against Lynden Christian at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Class 1A state quarterfinals at Yakima's SunDome.
"We are pretty used to being smaller," Connell coach Dany Colby said, "but these guys are a little bigger than most teams."
Lynden Christian (22-3 overall) features 6-foot-1 junior post Jasmine Hommes and 6-0 sophomore forward Cayla Tiemersma. Hommes is averaging 20.5 points per game.
Contrast that to Connell, which tops out at 5-9 in the post, and the Eagles have their work cut out for them.
"We've done it in the past," Colby said. "We are just going to have to extend the pressure and play great team defense and get a lot of weakside help."
The two teams met in the third-place game last season, as Lynden Christian escaped with a 35-29 victory as both teams struggled to play in a game they didn't want to be in after falling in the semifinals the night before.
This year, both teams have nearly their entire squads back and a defensive struggle can be expected. Connell has a senior-laden squad that has been to state all four seasons now and the Eagles upset the defending state champion Seattle Christian in the first round last season.
The Eagles (19-6) also showed their mental toughness over the weekend, falling to defending champion Freeman 56-34 on Friday in a first-round game and then bouncing back to rally past Okanogan 43-38 in the second round.
"The kids gutted that one out," Colby said. "We were down six at halftime and seven late in the third quarter, but our intensity level picked up as the game went on. We were very hard to score against in the third quarter. We got a lot of hands on passes. We earned that win."
Connell was the only Class 1A girls team to lose Friday and bounce back and win Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals.
Against Lynden Christian, the Eagles will have to play that same strong defense.
"The defense has to do a great job," Colby said. "Offensively, we will have to shoot the ball very well, because with our size, we probably won't have a lot of second opportunities."
* Craig Craker: 509-582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org