WALLA WALLA - Weston-McEwen matched Valley Christian heartbeat for heartbeat Thursday afternoon at Sherwood Center during the second of two girls third-place games at the D.A. Davidson Classic basketball tournament.
But the TigerScots couldn't match the Panthers' shooting touch from the floor.
Valley Christian, a Washington Class 1B school out of Spokane, built a 10-point lead after one quarter and then withstood Weston-McEwen's determined comeback effort over the final three periods to earn a 50-44 victory that raised the Panthers' season record to 3-7. The TigerScots slipped to 3-8 and won't return to action until next weekend when they open the 2011 portion of their schedule with Blue Mountain Conference games at Irrigon Friday and hosting Stanfield Saturday.
"We'll give the girls off until Monday," W-M coach Amber Doremus said. "Let them rest their tired legs. Then we'll get ready for our weekend league games."
It was the second time in three days that the TigerScots dug themselves into a deep first-quarter hole and then nearly clawed out. In Tuesday's tournament opener against Echo, Ore., W-M trailed 17-5 after one quarter but rallied to within two points, 28-26, early in the fourth quarter before succumbing 40-31.
Against Valley Christian on Thursday, the TigerScots trailed 15-5 after the first quarter. But, due in large part to a full-court press that forced 16 second-half Panther turnovers, they closed the gap to three points, 35-32, after three quarters and then drew within a single point when Makayla Christopher sank a 16-footer to open the fourth-quarter scoring.
The TigerScots were still within a point, 39-38, after a pair of Jaymie Zimmerman free throws with 5:27 to play. But the Panthers outscored W-M 11-2 over the next 3:23 to put the game out of the TigerScots' reach. A pair of Tiffany Cain baskets, one on a rebound and the other off of a steal, drew W-M within six points in the final minute of play.
"We had to go with a small lineup in the second half," Doremus said. "That made it hard on some of the girls who were asked to play post positions they had never played before. They had to learn on the fly.
"But we're learning to be more versatile," she added. "I think we showed a lot of improvement on defense, and we ran some new offensive sets in this tournament. And we worked in some new inbounds plays. I think we're playing better, smarter."
But shooting remains an issue.
While Valley Christian connected on 21-of-47 field-goal attempts for 45 percent, W-M hit on just 13-of-48, a chilly 27 percent. The Panthers sank 7-of-14 shots in the first quarter alone while W-M opened the game going 1-for-12 from the field.
"That wasn't helpful," Doremus said.
Furthermore, Valley Christian consistently found the range from the perimeter, with many of their makes coming from just inside the 3-point arc. The TigerScots, on the other hand, were forced to push the ball inside, which often led to turnovers. Weston-McEwen had 27 turnovers overall, five more than Valley Christian.
Weston-McEwen did dominate the backboards 51-30, and the TigerScots were able to get to the free-throw line more often than the Panthers. But W-M shot 17-for-31 from the line while Valley Christian was 7-for-17.
Junior Lacy Riggan led Valley Christian with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and her sister Lindy, a sophomore, hit 8-of-16 shots and finished with 17 points.
Weston-McEwen got eight points each from Tiffany Cain and Taylor Rudolph and seven each from Zimmerman and Morgan Entze. Entze, a junior and one of the TigerScots' more athletic players, spent much of the second half on the bench with four fouls and drew her fifth foul with 4:04 remaining and the TigerScots within a basket at 42-40.
In the game to decide the last two spots in the girls tournament field, University Prep defeated Overlake 46-17 in a match-up of Emerald City League rivals. Ariana Wetzel led the Pumas with 16 points while Davis Scilley and Katie Hill tallied five points each to pace the Owls.
University Prep improved to 3-7 and Overlake stands at 2-8.
Valley Christian 50, W-M 44
WESTON-MCEWEN (44) - P. Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Coffman 0-1 0-0 0, Christopher 2-7 2-2 6, Rudolph 2-8 3-7 8, Entze 1-6 5-6 7, J. Thompson 0-3 0-2 0, Cain 3-10 2-4 8, von Borstel 2-8 1-4 5, Youncs 1-1 1-2 3, Zimmerman 2-3 3-4 7. Totals 13-48 17-31 44.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN (50) - Ayala 3-5 1-5 7, Swank 1-5 1-2 3, La. Riggan 7-14 4-7 19, Heden 0-1 0-0 0, Li. Riggan 8-16 1-3 17, Westberg 0-0 0-0 0, Bogart 2-5 0-0 4, Walzer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 7-17 50.
W-M 5 12 15 12 - 44
VC 15 11 9 15 - 50
3-point goals - W-M (Rudolph), VC (La. Riggan). Total fouls - W-M 19, VC 18. Fouled out - W-M (Entze). Technnical fouls - none. Rebounds - W-M 51 (von Borstel 7), VC 30 (Swank 5). Turnovers - W-M 27, VC 22.
Universtiy Prep 46, Overlake 17
OVERLAKE (17) - Bazley 2, Scilley 5, Gold 2, Golitz, Sun 2, Hill 5, Kettle 1, Spencer.
UNIVERSITY PREP (46) - Afromowitz 2, Compton 4, Angolkar 9, Wilson 1, Hujoel 4, Western 4, Wetzel 16, Beard 2, Sanford 2, Hadac.
Overlake 8 4 2 3 - 17
University Prep 14 7 14 11 - 46