WALLA WALLA - From the ridiculous to the sublime.
That's perhaps the best and maybe the only way to describe the shooting progression of the DeSales girls basketball team from Tuesday's opening-round game at the D.A. Davidson Christmas Classic to Thursday's third-place game against unlucky Echo, Ore.
In Tuesday's disappointing 32-24 loss to Odessa-Harrington in the first round of the tournament, the Irish were an ice-cold 9-for-70 from the field and made just two of their 37 casts from beyond the 3-point arc. But in Wednesday's 49-18 victory over University Prep in consolation play, DeSales improved to 14-for-55 overall and 7-for-28 from outside the arc.
But that was nothing compared to what Echo had to deal with on Thursday.
DeSales shooters connected on 19-of-54 shots overall, 35 percent, and they were better than that - way better, in fact - from downtown, sinking 12 treys in 24 tries for an even 50 percent.
When the rims cooled and the smoke cleared, the Irish celebrated a 58-32 victory that ran their season record to 6-1 while the Cougars contemplated an 8-3 season mark after losing for the second time in three days on the Sherwood Center court.
Oddly enough, DeSales' 12 3-point baskets isn't a new school record, according to coach Tim Duncan. At best, it matches the record.
"I can't swear to what the record is," said Duncan, now in his 16th season in charge of the DeSales girls program. "But I do remember us making 12 3-pointers in a game in 2007 when my daughter Nichole was a senior. And we were in double-digits in 3s last year when we played Echo on this same floor.
"Echo probably isn't going to want to play us again," the coach added.
Junior Stephanie Ferrel led DeSales' 3-point onslaught with four bombs and a team-high 16 points. And as it turned out, she was the only Irish to score in double figures.
Another junior, point guard Annie Higgins, sank three 3s to account for her nine points. Senior Erin Giusti, junior Chantel Blanc, sophomores Ali Zander and Brigit Lyons, and freshman Ashlyn Lyons contributed one 3-pointer each to DeSales' long-range attack. Giusti finished the game with seven points and Zander and Ashlyn Lyons added six points each.
The Irish also played stout defense throughout the tournament and won the rebounding battle convincingly in all three of their games. And for the time being, this appears to be the personality of the Irish team.
But Duncan isn't concerned that his players will fall in love with the 3-pointer.
"I told the kids after the game today that we are not as bad as we were in that first game on Tuesday, and we're not as good as we were today," he said. "We are somewhere in between."
There was little suspense to Thursday's game.
Three-pointers by Higgins and Giusti helped stake DeSales to a 12-7 lead after one quarter. And then all heck broke loose in the second period when Ferrel stroked three of her treys and Higgins and Blanc connected once each as the Irish roared to a 32-16 halftime advantage. Ferrel, who also drove the lane for a 2-pointer, scored 11 of her 16 points in the quarter.
Higgins, Zander and Brigit Lyons delivered from outside the arc in the third quarter as DeSales extended its lead to 51-25. Ferrel scored her fourth 3, and the team's 11th, to open the fourth quarter, and Ashlyn Lyons, normally a post, joined the 3-point party with 1:08 remaining to finish off the DeSales scoring.
Senior Taylor Tarvin tallied 13 points to lead the Cougars.
DeSales will try to continue its climb up the shooting percentage chart Tuesday when the Irish entertain Pomeroy in a Southeast B District cross-division game. On Saturday, Asotin comes to town for a 2B counter.
DeSales 58, Echo 32
DESALES (58) - Konen 0-4 2-2 2, Higgins 3-7 0-1 9, B. Lyons 1-5 0-0 3, Buley 0-0 0-0 0, Giusti 2-6 2-4 7, Blanc 1-4 0-0 3, Wujek 0-0 0-0 0, Moberg 1-4 0-1 2, Crowley 1-2 2-2 4, Zander 2-6 1-2 6, A. Lyons 2-6 1-2 6, Ferrel 6-10 0-0 16. Totals 19-54 8-14 58
ECHO (32) - Souza 2-6 0-0 5, T. Tarvin 5-8 2-8 13, Lancaster 0-0 0-3 0, K. Elligsen 2-9 0-0 4, Round 0-2 0-0 0, McCallum 3-6 2-2 8, Marcum 1-10 0-0 2, L. Elligsen 0-4 0-0 0, H. Tarvin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-45 4-13 32.
DeSales 12 20 19 7 - 58
Echo 79 9 7 - 32
3-point goals - DeSales (Higgins 3, B. Lyons, Giusti, Blanc, Zander, A. Lyons, Ferrel 4), Echo (Souza, T. Tarvin). Total fouls - DeSales 16, Echo 13. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - DeSales 47 (A. Lyons 8), Echo 34 (McCallum 6). Turnovers - DeSales 20, Echo 17.