WALLA WALLA — Caitlin Duncan didn’t dunk on the Waitsburg-Prescott girls basketball team here Friday night — but she did just about everything else in leading DeSales to a crucial Southeast B District Southern Division victory over W-P, 54-52. The win locks the two squads into a tie for second place in the division.
Duncan scored 24 on the game, including her 1,000th career point, to go along with a team-high eight rebounds in the win.
"She’s a big-time player. I can’t say a whole lot because she’s my daughter, but she’s big time," DeSales coach Tim Duncan said. "She’s going to be the all-time leading scorer we’ve had (at DeSales). We expect big things out of her, and she delivered when she had to tonight."
"When you’ve got someone like Duncan, it’s kind of hard to guard her," W-P coach Jerry Baker said. "She gets everything going for them."
DeSales needed every ounce of Duncan’s output to overcome W-P.
Taking the court with palpably more energy than their guests, DeSales raced to a 12-4 lead — Duncan contributing four points and four boards in the stretch. The Irish also forced Waitsburg-Prescott into 10 first-quarter turnovers and kept the ball out of the hands of W-P’s posts and primary scoring threats.
"I thought (Jamie) Majerus did a real good job on Gen(esis Pearson) underneath," Baker said. "And whoever Duncan was guarding didn’t see the ball too well, either."
A defensive breakdown and a careless turnover by the Irish led to four W-P points in the last 11 seconds of the quarter, ruining DeSales’ great start. W-P trailed after eight minutes by just four, 12-8.
Waitsburg-Prescott continued to chip away at the lead until Amanda Weis’ layup tied the game at 19-19 with 2:11 left in the first half. DeSales responded with a 9-1 run to close out the half up 28-20.
Duncan boosted the DeSales lead to 11 — the largest of the game — on the first basket of the third quarter — a 3-ball from the wing. But Waitsburg-Prescott’s Megan Withers responded with a trey of her own at the other end to draw W-P back to within eight. Withers’ bucket marked the beginning of a 12-0 run that gave W-P its first lead of the game, 32-31.
"We talk about situational basketball in practice," coach Duncan said. "When you hit a 3-pointer and get the lead to double-figures, you don’t give up a 3 at the other end. (Withers) knocked down the 3 and they went on a little run that got them back in the game."
The run eventually stretched to 18-4, with W-P leading by three with 2:26 left in the third. But DeSales was not done as Duncan scored the next four points to regain the lead for the Irish 39-38 at 1:12 of the third.
At the 3:32 mark of the fourth and down 48-46, Duncan picked up her fourth foul against Weis. But 12 seconds later, Weis fouled out as she dove into DeSales’ Stephanie Ferrel in pursuit of a loose ball. Ferrel hit 1-of-2 free throws to draw the Irish within one, 48-47.
At 1:53, Duncan’s layin produced a 49-48 Irish lead. Pearson was subsequently fouled but missed the front end of a one-and-one. At 1:09, Duncan scored from in close again, pushing the lead to three. Pearson responded with an offensive rebound and putback at 38 seconds to close the score to 51-50. Twenty-one seconds later, Duncan found herself at the free throw line as Pearson drew her fifth foul and was forced to the bench. Duncan made both shots, leaving Waitsburg-Prescott with a needed 3 to tie.
DeSales defense blanketed W-P’s guards, who opted not to shoot from outside. Eventually, Alyssa Hafen received the ball inside and scored a 2-point basket, but only five seconds remained. DeSales quickly inbounded and got the ball to Duncan, who was fouled with less than a second remaining. She made 1-of-2 and the Irish pulled out the tight 54-52 victory.
"The girls put themselves in position to win the ballgame at the end, so I’m real happy with that," Baker said. "But we missed some free throws there at the end that were pretty critical."
"Caitlin got the points inside (at the end), but her teammates had to get the ball inside to her," Duncan said. "We had some kids step up. They understood what we were trying to do, and they made the plays.
"We came out on Tuesday ready to play against Mac-Hi and against Pomeroy last Saturday. And they were ready to play tonight. We liked our intensity tonight."
Desales took their 9-4 record overall into cross-division home game against Asotin Saturday night.
Waitsburg-Prescott fell to 8-4 and entertained Pomeroy Saturday.
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT (52) — Potter 5 3-3 13, Stringham 0 1-2 1, Carter 1 2-2 4, Hafen 3 2-2 8, Harris 1 0-0 2, Weis 2 2-7 6, Withers 4 1-3 10, Pearson 4 0-1 8. Totals 20 11-20 52.
DESALES (54) — Konen 0 0-0 0, Higgins 4 0-0 10, Klicker 0 0-0 0, Acock 0 1-2 1, Duncan 7 9-13 24, Giusti 2 3-6 7, Majerus 2 1-5 5, Zander 0 0-2 0, Ferrel 2 1-2 6, Warnick 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-30 54.
Waitsburg-Prescott 8 12 22 10 —52
DeSales 12 16 13 13 —54
3-point goals — W-P 1 (Withers), DeS 5 (Higgins 3, Duncan, Ferrel). Total fouls—WP 22, DeS 21. Fouled out—W-P (Weis, Pearson, Potter). Technical fouls—none. Rebounds—WP 28 (Pearson 14), DeS 23 (Duncan 8). Turnovers—WP 24, DeS 20. Assists—WP 2, DeS 2 (Giusti 2).