Defense keys second half uprising as Blue Devil girls defeat Moses Lake

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Wa-Hi's Jill McDaniels (24) swoops in front of Moses Lake's Tiffany Morris (24) for an attempted steal on a rebound during the first-half of their game Saturday at Wa-Hi.

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Wa-Hi's Vicki Reardon (32) and Jamie Weisner (14) surround two Moses Lake defenders as they all go up for a tipped rebound. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Madeline Jacobson (12) sends up a shot during the Blue Devils' victory over the Moses Lake Chiefs Saturday night. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Libbie Jimenez (20) uses space the Moses Lake Chiefs give her to take a shot during the second-half of the Blue Devils' game against the Chiefs Saturday night. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Jill McDaniels (24) remains focused as she drives the lane against three Moses Lake Chiefs defenders. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Jamie Weisner (14) tries to cool off during a breather from the Blue Devils' game against the Moses Lake Chiefs Saturday night. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Jamie Weisner (14) beats Moses Lake's Tiffany Morris (24) with a little fade away shot during the first-half of the Blue Devil's victory over the Chiefs Saturday night. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Alicia Baker (10) reaches in to steal the ball away from Moses Lake's Jordan Loera (5). Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Alicia Baker (10) fends off two Moses Lake defenders to maintain possession of the ball during the first-half of their game Saturday night. Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

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Wa-Hi's Vicki Reardon (32) loops a shot around the arm of Moses Lake's Sadie Nielsen (40). Walla Walla High School (Wa-Hi) girl's basketball playoff game against Moses Lake Saturday, February 13, 2010.

WALLA WALLA - Moses Lake had defeated Wa-Hi the last three times the two teams had met in the postseason.

Wa-Hi ended that streak here Saturday in the opening round of the District 4A girls basketball playoffs.

The Blue Devils outscored the Chiefs 32-19 in the second half to post the 54-37 victory.

"The last four years, Moses Lake has always been so tough to beat," Wa-Hi senior point guard Alicia Baker said. "It's awesome that we almost blew them out. It feels great."

Vicki Reardon got the game started off an assist from Jill McDaniels as Wa-Hi took a 2-0 lead 40 seconds in. Wa-Hi never trailed.

The Chiefs tried on their first five possessions to pound the ball inside, only to have the Blue Devils force turnovers. McDaniels capped that stretch with a deuce for a 7-0 Wa-Hi lead with three minutes gone.

"First quarter, defensively, we played really well," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said. "Then in the second quarter, we stopped playing the defense that we know how to play and started trading baskets with them, and that's not good enough."

With Chiefs' leading scorer Jordan Loera draining two treys, one from NBA range, the Chiefs scored 12 second-quarter points, but the Blue Devils got four each from Reardon and Jamie Weisner, a trey from McDaniels and a deuce from Andrea Hamada to hold serve and take a 22-18 lead to intermission.

Wa-Hi put the game away with a 14-5 third-quarter run to take a commanding 36-23 lead to the fourth.

Weisner and McDaniels each knocked down seven points in the quarter.

"Our defense didn't do very well in the first half, so our offense didn't do well," Weisner said. "Once we start picking it up defensively, our offense follows. That's what we did in the second half."

"It all comes down to our defense," Meliah echoed. "We're in the playoffs now, and we need to make sure we're getting stops. In the second half, we were switching screens better, and talking more. Our offense is directly correlated to our defense. If we get stops, we find our rhythm offensively."

Baker's defense on Loera was a key. Baker shut out Loera, who came in averaging 18 a game, in the decisive third quarter. Loera would finish with a team-high 16, but was harassed into a 6-of-18 shooting night.

"That was my goal to stay with her the best I could," Baker said. "I wanted to make sure she limited her points. I was doing my best to bother her shots. She can shoot an NBA-3, but that was the shot I wanted her to take."

Following Chief buckets from Lacey Padillia and Tiffany Morris to open the fourth, the lead narrowed to 36-27 with 6:30 left.

Wa-Hi answered with a 7-0 run. Libbie Jimenez found McDaniels for a trey. Jimenez dished to Weisner for two, Jimenez went inside to Reardon for a bucket, and Wa-Hi led 43-27 with 4:37 left.

Weisner converted five free throws and two dishes from Baker as the Blue Devils, following Weisner's bucket at the 1:13 mark, took a 52-35 lead.

Reardon summed this one up, as the 5-foot-10 senior grabbed a missed Weisner shot, her seventh offensive rebound of the night, and put it back with nine seconds left to run the final to 54-37.

"Vicki does a great job of getting position on the offensive boards," Meliah said. "She's got a nose for it."

Weisner led all scorers with 24 points, 18 coming in the second half. McDaniels scored 15, and Reardon added 13.

Wa-Hi, with Weisner pulling down a game-high 16 rebounds and Reardon grabbing eight, won the rebound battle, 33-29.

"I just try to go get the ball," Weisner said of her work on the glass. "We wanted to get them (Moses Lake) bad, so it's good."

The Blue Devils advance to a Tuesday 5:45 p.m. match at the Columbia Division No. 1 seed Wenatchee. The Panthers, 17-4 on the year, defeated Eisenhower 59-45 Tuesday to earn the Tuesday home game.

MOSES LAKE (37) - Sutherland 0-4 0-0 0, Loera 6-18 2-2 16, Padillia 3-7 0-1 6, Kunjara 2-3 0-0 4, Morris 2-5 2-3 7, Diaz 1-5 0-0 2, Munoz 1-1 0-0 2, Nielsen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 4-6 37.

WA-HI (54) - Baker 0-4 0-0 0, Jacobson 0-2 0-0 0, Weisner 9-19 6-6 24, Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, McDaniels 6-15 0-0 15, Jimenez 0-2 0-0 0, Hamada 1-6 0-0 2, Reardon 5-7 3-4 13, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Christensen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 9-10 54.

Moses Lake 6 12 5 14 - 37

Wa-Hi 9 13 14 18 - 54

3-point goals -ML 3-16 (Sutherland 0-3, Loera 2-9, Padillia 0-2, Morris 1-1 Diaz 0-1), Wa-Hi 3-9 (Jimenez 0-1, McDaniels 3-8). Total fouls-ML 12, Wa-Hi 12. Fouled out-none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds-ML 29 (Loera 10), Wa-Hi 33 (Weisner 16). Turnovers-ML 16, Wa-Hi 12. Assists-ML 2, Wa-Hi 13 (Jimenez 4).

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