Wa-Hi's boys finish first in Big Nine Conference Cascade Division hoops race

Wa-Hi's boys clinch the Big Nine Cascade crown, but set their sights higher in the postseason.

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The Wa-Hi boy's basketball team warms-up before their game against West Valley Tuesday night at Wa-Hi.

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Gary Winston listens to music before the Walla Walla High School boy's basketball game against West Vallery Tuesday night.

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Wa-Hi's Seth Alden (above, at left) and West Valley's Tyler Cluff (No. 10) scramble for possession of the ball during the first half of their game Tuesday night at Wa-Hi.

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Wa-Hi's Gary Winston (No 10) weaves through West Valley defenders on his way to the basket for a layup during the game.

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Blue Devil Ryan James drives for a layup against the West Valley rams Tuesday night at Wa-Hi.

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Matt Watson hooks a shot over a West Valley defender.

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Wa-Hi's Jake Aguiar (12) attempts to steal the ball from an West Valley player during the first-half of their game Tuesday night at Wa-Hi.

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Gary Winston swipes the ball loose from the hands of a West Valley player and out of bounds Tuesday night.

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Colton Arias (22) drives past three West Valley defenders for a layup during the first-half of the Blue Devils' game against the Rams Tuesday night.

WALLA WALLA - With one 2010 boys basketball trophy in the trophy case, Wa-Hi wants more.

Yet, the defending Big Nine Conference district champions refuse to take anything for granted. They're working hard and taking the postseason one game at a time.

That's the Blue Devils' mantra after knocking off West Valley, 63-47, in a regular-season-ending Big Nine Conference Cascade Division game that clinched the division crown and claimed the trophy at the Wa-Hi gym Tuesday night.

Now, Wa-Hi (17-3) takes on Kennewick of the Columbia Division (4-16) on Saturday at the Blue Devils' gym in the first round of the Big Nine District playoffs.

The game tips off at 8 p.m.

"This was one of our goals this season," Wa-Hi senior guard Gary Winston said. "That's just one of the trophies we're planning on getting, and it's good to get that one.

"But we're not looking too far ahead because we know anything can happen," he said. "We're just taking one game at a time.

"We just want to go as far as we can and win as much as we can as a team, because most of the guys won't be playing basketball after this season.

"So it was nice to get this one," he said.

Winston finished with a game-high 17 points, three assists and two steals in limited game time. He also had an above-the-rim flying shot-block that drew supportive chants from the partisan student section.

Ryan James chipped in 12 points for Wa-Hi.

Ten of the 12 Blue Devils to see action put points on the board.

Michael Weisner, who averages nearly 20 points again, also saw limited action. He shot once in the first half and twice in the second half to finish with three shots and two points for the night.

Nevertheless, Weisner ripped off a game-high nine rebounds to help Wa-Hi to a 41-34 bulge on the boards.

Seniors Brandon Porter and Zach Sumerlin scored seven and four points, respectively, and each grabbed six rebounds.

"Winning the championship is really exciting," Sumerlin said. "I've never really had a part with a basketball team going so far like this. It's just really exciting to be a part of the team. It's a lot of fun. We're going farther than we did in football, so it's like having a second chance."

Austin Strock led the Rams with 11 points, and Tanner Albrecht pulled off seven rebounds

Wa-Hi built a 14-6 first-quarter lead and never trailed after that. The Blue Devils led by 25 points, 50-25 with 2:06 left on the third-quarter clock.

"Winning the division championship is great," Wa-Hi senior forward Colton Arias said. "Now we're going into the districts with some momentum. Hopefully we can take that again, like we did last year.

"And it was good that everybody got to play (on senior recognition night)," he said. "Jake Crawford came in and played great, got some shots to fall. Brian Porter, Morgan Maddess - all the guys that don't get a whole bunch of playing time played well. Ryan James scored well. Everyone contributed.

"Now, we want to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves," Arias said. "Hopefully, we'll move on to the regionals."

Wa-Hi's defense held the Rams to 30-percent shooting from the floor in the first half, 8-for-26, and 37 percent for the game, 19-for-51.

Wa-Hi finished with 43.5-percent shooting from the floor for the game, 27-for-62.

Wa-Hi coach John Golden was pleased with the Blue Devils' season-long effort.

"Like I told these guys, we put ourselves in position to have this game for the division championship," he said. "We did that all year long, and I'm proud of them. They never looked ahead. They never looked past anybody. They always focused on one game at a time.

"And that's the primary focus right now," Golden said. "We'll take the division championship, and we're happy with that.

"These guys will keep it in perspective," he added. "They're seniors, and they're leaders, and they know what's next and how to get there.

"If we win Saturday, we'll host a game Tuesday that will be a district semifinal. If we win Tuesday, that means we will get a home regional game. And then, just like last year, we're playing for the district title.

"So, Saturday's big. If we get by that, then Tuesday will be really big. We'll probably be facing Kamiakin again. We don't know that far ahead, but that's possible," Golden said. "These guys have worked hard all year. This is part of the reward. Yet, they know there's more out there and that we'll keep working for it."

WEST VALLEY (47) - Taffolla 2-6 0-2 5, Cluff 1-4 0-2 2, Croshaw 0-4 1-2 1, Lang 1-2 0-0 2, Moulton 1-2 0-0 1, Dresker 0-0 0-0 0, Berndt1-2 2-2 5, Wagner 1-2 0-0 2, Strock 5-12 1-2 11,Albrecht 4-12 1-2 9, Brochert 0-0 0-0 0, Olson 3-5 0-0 8. Totals 19-51 5-12 47.

WA-HI (63) - Winston 7-10 1-2 17, Aguiar 2-4 0-1 4, Crawford 3-9 0-0 7, Porter 3-11 1-2 7, Arias 2-8 1-2 6, Weisner 1-3 0-0 2, James 6-8 0-1 12, Alden 0-1 2-2 2, Ceron 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 1-2 0-0 2, Sumerlin 2-3 0-1 4. Totals 27-62 5-10 63.

West Valley 6 12 14 15 - 47

Walla Walla 14 17 21 11 - 63

3-point goals - West Valley 4-16 (Taffolla 1-3, Cluff 0-1, Crowshaw 0-2, Moulton 0-1, Berndt 1-2, Strock 0-1, Albrecht 0-2, Olson 2-4), Wa-Hi 4-20 (Winston 2-4, Aguiar 0-1, Crawford 1-6, Arias 1-1, Weisner 0-2, Maddess 0-2, Ceron 0-1). Total fouls - West Valley 14, Wa-Hi 13. Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - West Valley (None), Wa-Hi (None). Rebounds - West Valley 34 (Albrecht 7), Wa-Hi 41 (Weisner 9). Turnovers - West Valley 14, Wa-Hi 13. Assists - West Valley 7 (Croshaw 2), Wa-Hi 17 (Arias 4). Steals - West Valley 4 (N/A), Wa-Hi 8 (Winston 2, Aguiar 2).

Big Nine Conference Class 4A District Tournament

(A ll games Saturday unless noted)

Bo ys

Kennewick (4-16) at Wa-Hi, 8 p.m.

Kamiakin (16-4) at Southridge, 7:30 p.m.

Wenatchee (15-5) at Richland (17-3), 7 p.m. Friday

Eisenhower (15-5) at Davis (16-4), 7 p.m.

Girls

Pasco (8-10) at Chiawana (18-2), 7 p.m.

Richland (14-6) at Southridge (14-6), 5:45 p.m.

Moses Lake (10-10) at Wa-Hi (13-7), 6 p.m.

Eisenhower (9-11) at Wenatchee (16-4), 5 p.m.

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