WWCC garners No. 1 seed

The Warrior men shake Blue Mountain, 85-74, for a share of the NWAACC East title, but take the top seed through tie-breakers.

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Three Blue Mountain Community College players swarm the front and back of Walla Walla Community College's Emery Henning (22) after he came down with an offensive rebound during the Warriors' game against the Timberwolves Wednesday night.

WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Community College used an early second-half run Wednesday night to break away from stubborn Blue Mountain in an 85-74 NWAACC Eastern Region men's basketball victory over the last-place Timberwolves at the Dietrich Dome.

The Sophomore Night triumph ran the Warriors' regular-season-ending winning streak to eight games, and earned them a piece of the league title and the East's No. 1 seed heading into the NWAACC Tournament that begins March 6 in Kennewick's Toyota Center.

Walla Walla (No. 6 in the latest NWAACC poll), Big Bend and Spokane all posted 11-3 region records, but the Warriors garnered the top seed due to a 3-1 mark in head-to-head competition against the Vikings and Sasquatch.

The Warriors are 19-5 overall.

Neither team was able to claim more than a six-point lead in the opening half. The game was tied at 37-37 when Warrior reserve Ryan Schulz cashed in a layup opportunity with 1:05 on the clock that put WWCC in front for keeps.

Center Emery Henning, one of seven sophomores honored during pre-game ceremonies, tallied in the low post with 41 seconds remaining to up Walla Walla's edge to four, 41-37, going into halftime.

"Give Blue Mountain credit," WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. "They came in and played hard.

"I thought we missed a lot of open shots in the first half," said Reinland, whose team shot just 34 percent (13-of-38) in the opening act. "We didn't practice well after the Big Bend game (an 88-75 win last Saturday in Moses Lake). I could see it coming. It was such an emotional win that it was hard to bring these guys back down."

The Warriors came out of intermission and seized command of the game with the first eight points of the second half. Henning's finish on a transition drive, set up by a Ryan Andrews' assist, gave WWCC a 12-point barrier, 49-37, at the 18:13 mark.

Following a Timberwolves' deuce, Walla Walla would go on a 30-20 binge over an 11-minute stretch that resulted in its biggest lead of the game, 79-59. Aaron Van de Graaf was key with four 3s, D.J. Wright contributed a thunderous dunk with 13:53 left, and Jason Smith - who led all scorers with 28 points - ended the blitz with a 3 with 5:20 to play.

"Emery got a couple of buckets and Vandy broke the game open," Reinland said.

Henning was second on the Warriors' scoring list with 15 points. Van de Graaf had 12, and Aaron Corsi came off the bench to record a double-double - 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Henning was honored before the game along with Wright, Andrews, Van de Graaf, Alex Roll, Kody Fullerton and Ben Searle.

BMCC (74) - Kuhn 3-8 2-2 9, B. Chambers 1-6 2-2 4, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Doherty 5-12 5-6 15, Church 11-21 4-5 27, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, D. Chambers 2-6 4-6 8, Ridling 2-8 0-0 4, Ashbaugh 3-4 1-3 7. Totals 27-65 18-24 74.

WWCC (85) - Wright 2-7 5-8 9, Roll 0-0 0-0 0, Andrews 1-7 0-0 3, Steele 1-1 0-0 3, Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Van de Graaf 4-6 0-0 12, Fullerton 0-0 0-0 0, Schulz 2-3 0-0 4, Smith 9-20 3-3 28, Moore 0-3 0-0 0, Corsi 4-10 3-6 11, Henning 7-14 1-1 15, Baker 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-73 12-18 85.

Halftime score-WWCC 41, BMCC 37. 3-point goals - BMCC 2-8 (Kuhn 1-2, Church 1-4, Doherty 0-1, Ridling 0-1), WWCC 13-33 (Smith 7-17, Van de Graaf 4-6, Steele 1-1, Andrews 1-4, Wright 0-2, Moore 0-3). Total fouls- BMCC 12, WWCC 20. Fouled out-BMCC (Ridling, Ashbaugh). Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- BMCC 43 (Church 9), WWCC 50 (Corsi 10). Turnovers-BMCC 8, WWCC 10. Assists-BMCC 5 (B. Chambers 3), WWCC 14 (Andrews 6).

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