COOS BAY — Coquille seniors Darian Wilson and Tara Edwards always wear knee pads during games. Thursday’s quarterfinal game against Rainier at the Class 3A state tournament showed why.
The two emotional leaders were on the floor early and often, diving for loose balls or making other hustle plays, helping Coquille keep the pace it wanted as the Red Devils beat the Columbians 47-33 and advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Scrappy would be one applicable word for Coquille’s defense, which forced Rainier into 22 turnovers Thursday.
“That’s how it feels to play,” Edwards said, adding that she agrees with the description. “I just get going.”
Both Edwards and Wilson forced held-ball turnovers by scrambling to the floor to tie up Rainier players in the opening minutes. And Wilson was an all-around menace on defense in the first two quarters, with seven steals.
She didn’t have a steal in the second half, but wound up on the floor several times while fighting for rebounds — she had nine — or being fouled driving to the hoop.
“If I didn’t have the kneepads, I wouldn’t be able to walk tomorrow,” Wilson said.
The rest of the Red Devils followed suit, harassing Rainier's ball handlers.
Coquille’s pace got to the Columbians, who led twice early but trailed the entire final three quarters after Coquille finished the first on a 7-0 run for a 12-7 advantage.
“We definitely got caught up in their pressure,” Nyssa’s Jadyn Crape said. “We can’t do that. We have to play our game.”
Rainier coach Doug Knox agreed.
“I think we let Coquille take us completely out of our game,” he said.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half, but Coquille did enough at the foul line to build a lead. And when the Red Devils warmed up in the third quarter, hitting 6 of 12 from the floor, they built a double-digit lead the Columbians never could crack the final eight minutes.
“We played good,” Edwards said, adding that Rainier “was a good team.”
But Coquille caused troubles for Rainier with its pressure and used a solid offensive plan.
“We attacked them and we played our game,” Edwards said.
Rainier, meanwhile, didn't.
"We had some breakdowns defensively and we had some breakdowns offensively," Knox said. "When you don't execute in big games, you get beat."
Coquille started slowly in the second half and led just 21-16 before McKenna Wilson sparked a run with a 3-pointer. Morgan Baird scored twice inside and when McKenna Wilson followed a 3-pointer by Rainier’s Desiree Hanson with a bucket inside, the Red Devils had a double-digit lead for good at 30-19.
Darian Wilson helped secure the win by making the most of repeated trips to the line. She finished with a game-high 20 points, including hitting 11-for-12 from the line. McKenna Wilson added 10 points.
Coquille earned a semifinals rematch with two-time champion Dayton.
“I’m so excited,” Darian Wilson said.
Last year, the Red Devils led the Pirates by two at halftime before struggling the final two quarters.
They feel they are better built to compete with the Pirates this year.
“This year, we played so many more good teams,” Edwards said. “I feel like we’re more prepared.”
They likely will get another big showing of support. Nearly the entire North Side of Pirate Palace was a sea of red Thursday, with the fans loudly backing Coquille’s efforts.
Rainier, which was last in the tournament in 2015, got 15 points from Hansen and 12 from Crape.
Hansen also had nine rebounds, six assists and four blocks for Rainier, which will face Nyssa in the consolation bracket.
The Columbians still have a lot to play for, Crape said.
“We’re going to play our hearts out tomorrow,” she said. “We want to play for a trophy.”