WENATCHEE - It doesn't matter when you score, it's what's on the scoreboard at the final buzzer.
With Jill McDaniels leading the way with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, Wa-Hi connected on 17-of-35 shot attempts over the first 16 minutes here in second-round District girls basketball action, and jumped to a 35-23 halftime advantage over Wenatchee.
The Panthers stepped up the defense and held the Blue Devils to 4-of-24 in the second half, but the Panthers never overcame the 12-point deficit as Wa-Hi hung on for a 47-44 victory.
The victory clinches a spot for the Blue Devils in next week's regional tournament, and earns Wa-Hi a berth in Friday's district championship.
"Wenatchee is a good team," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said of the Columbia Division's No. 1 seed. "I knew they would come out (in the second half) and counter what we had been doing. We were lucky enough to have enough smarts to finish it out."
McDaniels gave Wa-Hi a 2-0 lead with 30 seconds gone. Wenatchee fought back to take its only lead of the game at 13-12 following a Michaela George bucket with 12 seconds left in the quarter.
McDaniels beat the buzzer with a baseline drive for a 14-13 Blue Devil advantage after one.
"We had been on a bus for three and a half hours," McDaniels said. "(Coach) Meliah told us we had to come out strong."
Jamie Weisner scored eight, McDaniels added seven, Alicia Baker had two buckets and Andrea Hamada added a deuce as Wa-Hi scored 21 second-quarter points, on 10-of-19 shooting, to increase the lead to 35-23 at the break.
The Panthers presented a formidable front line with 6-foot-1 George and 5-11 Lexxi Hallberg, but Wa-Hi came up with the perfect plan in the first half.
"We knew they had some big girls," McDaniels said. "We had to bring our posts up high so we could drive it in, and I got a couple of looks. It was a real good half as everyone stepped up."
On defense, Wa-Hi plugged the middle to defend the inside, and forced 10 turnovers. Wa-Hi scored eight points off those turnovers.
"We were able to get a great scouting report," Meliah said. "Jill (McDaniels) does a great job with help-side defense. She was a huge key, as was Alicia (Baker) shutting down Dani Hallberg (four first-half points)."
The Panther defense took Wa-Hi out of its offensive rhythm in the third quarter, but the Blue Devil defense limited the Panthers to seven third-quarter points.
Gabby Anderson's bucket and a free throw each from Vicki Reardon and McDaniels was the Wa-Hi offense as the Blue Devils hung tough to take a 39-30 lead to the fourth.
"I'm sure they got chewed (at halftime)," McDaniels said. "They got more physical and it rattled us."
A Reardon feed to Weisner opened a 41-30 lead with 6:25 left.
The Panthers, behind Dani Hallberg's 11 points, went on a 14-5 run. Hallberg drained a trey with 22 seconds left to pull Wenatchee within 46-44.
Baker hurt an ankle and left with 3:30 to play. Weisner had to shift to point-guard duties, but Hallberg got hot.
"Jamie really steps up when she has to," McDaniels said. "She's a great ball handler and we all have equal faith in Jamie and Alicia."
The Panthers had to foul and sent McDaniels to the line with 10 seconds to go. McDaniels hit the front end of the 1-and-1 to give Wa-Hi a 47-44 lead.
"I had to make it," McDaniels said. "The second one felt good, but it didn't go."
Down 47-44, Dani Hallberg, who led the Panthers with 17, launched a trey to tie, but it came up short and McDaniels grabbed the rebound to ice the win.
McDaniels led Wa-Hi with 17 points and 10 boards. Weisner finished with 13. Hamada had three assists, including feeds to Reardon and to Weisner in the fourth period.
The victory was Wa-Hi's ninth in a row, and plays at Chiawana, a 64-53 winner over Southridge Tuesday, on Friday at 7 p.m.
"I am so proud of these girls," Meliah said. "We are playing so well as a team - from everybody on the bench being so positive to people playing two minutes or 32 minutes. We're ready to go in and make plays."
WA-HI (47) - Baker3-7 0-0 6, Weisner -12 1-2 13, McDaniels 7-20 2-4 17, Hamada 2-7 0-0 4, Reardon 2-6 1-2 5, Christensen 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 1-3 0-0 2, Jimenez 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 21 59 4-8 47.
WENATCHEE (44) - Douglass 0-0 0-0 0, Rockstad 0-2 1-2 1, Scheumann 2-7 2-2 6, George 5-11 4-6 14, D. Hallberg 4-15 8-8 17, Paine 1-2 0-0 2, L. Hallberg 2-9 0-0 4. Totals 14-46 15-18 44.
Wa-Hi 14 21 4 8 - 47
Wenatchee 13 10 7 14 - 44
3-point goals -Wa-Hi 1-11 (Baker 0-1, McDaniels 1-7, Jimenez 0-3), Wen 1-7 (D. Hallberg 1-6, L. Hallberg 0-1). Total fouls-Wa-Hi 15, Wen 9. Fouled out-none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds-Wa-Hi 36 (McDaniels 10), Wen 30 (George 12). Turnovers-Wa-Hi 14, Wen 15. Assists-Wa-Hi 9 (Hamada 3), Wen 8 (Scheumann 4).