Bearcats outlast Rapids to win first district title in six years

Feb. 16—Box Score

At Kelso


Columbia River 9 13 10 9 — 41

W.F. West12 11 9 22 — 54

W.F. West (54) — Dalan 24, Boeck 12, Fragner 8, Cushman 5, Bennett 3, Simpson 2

KELSO — Nearly halfway through the fourth quarter of the 2A District 4 Championship on Friday, W.F. West and Columbia River were deadlocked at 39.

Columbia River called timeout with just under five minutes to play, and the Bearcats returned to their bench. There, W.F. West coach Kyle Karnofski had a simple message to his team.

"Be us," Karnofski said. "That's been our mantra all year. Be us, do our job and trust your teammates. When you're you, and you can trust the girl next to you, we can do cool things."

The Bearcats responded by scoring 15 or the final 17 points of the game, finishing off a 54-41 win that gives them their first district championship in six years.

"It's emotional. To see them get excited — ," Karnofski started, before loud cheers from the W.F. West locker room forced him to laugh. "That fourth quarter, that was us."

W.F. West and Columbia River entered the fourth tied at 32 after three back-and-forth quarters, and they continued to trade blows in the first few minutes of the final frame.

Twice, the Bearcats (20-3) went up three, and the Rapids instantly responded both times with three-point plays to tie it. After the second came the Columbia River timeout, after which the Bearcats went on an 11-0 run.

It began with two Lena Fragner free throws, before Julia Dalan got open underneath on two straight possessions. A minute later, Dilyn Boeck hit a floater, and on the next possession, she hit the dagger, a corner-three that put W.F. West up 11 with less than two minutes to play.

"I told her when she subbed in in the fourth, I said 'You're gonna make a play,'" Karnofski said. "She made two big plays, so I was wrong. And I'm not surprised she did that, cause that girl can hoop."

Moments later, after the final buzzer, Boeck and the rest of the Bearcats were able to cut down the net, and at the end, Karnofksi got to cut down what was left.

"I'm so proud of our kids and our program," Karnofski said. "We've worked for this, it's been a long time coming."

This is the third district title in program history for the Bearcats, but the first in Karnofski's five-year tenure. They've had their chances, falling in the district title game in three of the previous four seasons, but they hadn't been able to get over the hump until Friday.

Karnofski was quickly running through the years in his head, recalling back to when several of these players were playing with masks on due to COVID regulations a few years ago.

"Just the whole progression of everything, it's amazing to do and it feels awesome," Karnofski said.

Dalan was held to just eight points in the first half, but she scored six straight to start the third quarter en route to a team-high 24 points. She also had her usual success in the paint, tallying 14 rebounds and blocking five shots.

Boeck finished with 12 points, nine of which came in the Bearcats 15-2 run to end the game, while Fragner logged eight.

The Bearcats will now await their seeding at the state tournament, and they'll return to the court on Friday, Feb. 23, or Saturday, Feb. 24 for their Regional matchup.