YAKIMA -- It had been just over 10 weeks since the Onalaska boys basketball team was tested on the court, squeezing out a 43-39 win over South Bend on December 22 in its closest game of the year.
In the Loggers' first-round 1A state matchup Wednesday at the SunDome, Columbia (Burbank) provided a stiff challenge for the undefeated Southwest Evergreen Division champions. In the end, Onalaska passed its latest trial with flying colors, beating the Coyotes 46-32.
Burbank (15-10) will play Lake Roosevelt (15-10) in today's consolation bracket at 12:30 p.m.
"We're kind of down. We know we could have played better," said senior guard Trevor Lott, who led the Coyotes with nine points and five steals.
Burbank kept the game close for more than three quarters, pulling to within 33-29 with just over six minutes left on Lott's 3-pointer.
But in the end the difference came down to toughness. More specifically, it came down to Dalton Ritchey.
"He's (Matt) Hadley. We see that twice a year," said Coyotes' coach D.J. Traver, referring to Connell's bulldog-tough guard. "We knew they were really athletic and that they would really get into us. We just didn't adjust to their physicality."
Ritchey, the Loggers' 6-foot junior guard, scored a game-high 25 points -- 17 in the first half -- and sparked Onalaska (25-0) in its first state appearance since 2007.
"Nobody on this team has been here," said Ritchey, the Evergreen MVP in football and basketball this season. "The first half was a little scary, but everybody knew if we could make it through the first half we'd be OK."
Burbank actually grabbed a 15-13 lead on Nathan Roberts' 3-pointer from the left wing with 5:30 left in the second quarter. But that was the last lead the Coyotes would see.
After Taylor Majors scored inside to tie the score at 15, Ritchey scored seven unanswered points, including a pair of 3-pointers from the top of the key to put the Loggers ahead for good at 23-15.
Ritchey had a worthy adversary in Burbank senior guard Neal Schuck. What Schuck failed to match in points (he finished with six) he more than made up for in competitiveness.
"It was definitely a contest," Ritchey said. "After I went at him, he'd come right back at me. I thought it was a good challenge."