Braves bounce cold Blue Devils

Wa-Hi's boys hit just 38 percent from the floor in the 66-55 district tournament loss to Kamiakin.

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WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi shooters missed their first four shots in a second-round Big Nine Conference District boys basketball game Tuesday night at the Blue Devils' gym.

And they never quite found their usual shooting touch on the way to a 66-55 rubber-game loss to Kamiakin.

The teams split their regular-season games, with each team winning at home.

On Tuesday, however, the No. 4-ranked Blue Devils fell behind the No. 7-ranked Braves, 9-0, before Ryan James drove for a layup with 3:48 left in the first period.

"We just didn't shoot it, and they did," Wa-Hi coach John Golden said. "That was the difference. They came in and shot the ball awfully well, and we didn't shoot it very well.

"And we haven't had too many games this year when we haven't shot very well, especially at our place," he added.

Kamiakin, now 17-4, faces Richland for the district title on Friday.

Richland, 19-3, beat Davis 69-57 to advance to the district title game.

Wa-Hi, 17-4, now faces Eisenhower, 16-6 and a 63-52 winner over Wenatchee, in battle for a seed to the regional at 7 p.m. Friday at Wa-Hi.

The loser of that game plays Saturday in a loser-out game for the fifth regional seed against either Davis or Southridge.

Wa-Hi, as the Cascade Division champ, owns the home-court throughout the district playoffs.

Wa-Hi hit 40 percent of its shots in the first half (8-for-20) and 37.7 percent for the game (20-for-53).

Gary Winston led Wa-Hi with 20 points, and Michael Weisner scored 14.

James pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for Wa-Hi.

The Braves, on the other hand, shot 56 percent from the floor in the first half Tuesday (13-for-23) and finished by connecting on 52.5 percent for the game (21-for-40).

Most Braves shot well, but hot-handed Kamiakin junior Case Rada hit 8-of-13 tries from the floor (with 5-for-10 3-pointers) and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line to lead all scorers with 30 points. Rada entered the game with a 14.2 scoring average for the season.

Rada also led the Braves with seven rebounds.

Kamiakin outshot the Blue Devils from the free-throw line, 17-for-21 to 3-for-9.

Despite its slow start, Wa-Hi closed the gap repeatedly.

The Blue Devil cut Kamiakin's 9-0 start to 15-10 at the first-quarter buzzer.

When Weisner hit a 3-pointer with two minutes gone in the second quarter, Kamiakin led 20-15.

Kamiakin pulled ahead again to lead by 12, 34-22, at halftime.

Winston and Weisner scored back-to-back buckets to open the third quarter and cut the gap to eight points, 34-26, but the Braves hit 5-of-10 in the period on the way to a 13-point lead going into the final eight minutes.

Brandon Porter and Winston hit consecutive 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the quarter, cutting the gap to seven, 49-42.

And when Winston drove the key for a layin with 49 seconds to play, Wa-Hi cut the deficit to five, 57-52.

Then, as the seconds ticked away and Winston hit one more 3 for the Blue Devils, Wa-Hi sent Rada to the line five times, and he converted 9-of-10 freebies.

Wa-Hi outscored the Braves in the second half, 33-32, but Kamiakin notched the 66-55 win.

"It's disappointing, but we've put outselves in a position all year long so that if we do happen to stumble, or stub our toe, we're still fine," Golden said. "Eisenhower still has to come in here on Friday.

"We'll bounce back," he said. "Our guys are resilient. We'll get back to doing what we do.

"Defensively, the second half, we played pretty well," he continued. "We gave them a bunch of free throws at the end, so the score is not really indicative of how well we played.

"Our guys came out and competed the second half really well," Golden said. "We had some opportunities. We got some turnovers, but we just couldn't capitalize. We just didn't shoot well enough.

"So, give them credit. They shot well, and we didn't shoot well enough to win. But, we'll bounce back."

Friday's loser-out, winner-to-regionals game against Ike is at 7 p.m.

KAMIAKIN (66) - Hayfield 0-1 103 1, Rada 8-13 9-10 30, Holle 4-10 3-4 11, Fletcher 0-3 2-2 2, Anderson 3-4 1-1 9, Hunt 2-2 0-0 4, Pedley 4-7 1-1 9. Totals 21-40 17-21 66.

WA-HI (55) - Winston 7-21 2-2 20, Aguiar 1-1 0-0 3, Porter 1-6 0-2 3, Arias 2-5 0-0 5, Weisner 5-14 0-1 14, James 4-6 0-0 9, , Alden 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 0-0 1-4 1. Totals 20-53 3-9 55.

Kamiakin 15 19 15 17 - 66

Wa-Hi 10 12 14 19 - 55

3-point goals - Kamiakan 7-15 (Hayfield 0-1, Rada 5-10, Holle 0-2, Anderson 2-2), Wa-Hi 12-27 (Winston 4-10, Aguiar 1-1, Porter 1-4, Arias 1-2, Weisner 4-9, James 1-1). Total fouls - Kamiakin 6, Wa-Hi 18. Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - (None). Rebounds - Kamiakin 34 (Rada 7), Wa-Hi 24 (James 7). Turnovers - Kamiakin 12, Wa-Hi 5. Assists - Kamiakin 11 (Holle 4, Fletcher 4), Wa-Hi 11 (Winston 3). Steals - Kamiakin 3 (n/a), Wa-Hi 6 (Winston 3).

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