Blue Devil girls dominate first half, then hang on for the win

Wa-Hi's girls jump out to a big lead, allow an Eastmont second-half comeback before taking the 57-49 win.

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WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi, following a Jill McDaniels 3-ball, led 35-15 with 4:25 to play in the first half here Saturday in Big Nine Cascade Division girls basketball action against Eastmont.

Eastmont’s Brandi Gilstrap hit a free throw with 41.7 seconds left in the game, and Wa-Hi led 52-49.

Jamie Weisner hit the first of two free throws, and Alicia Baker grabbed the offensive rebound, and fed inside to Vicki Reardon, who laid it in for a 55-49 Blue Devil lead with 23 ticks left.

McDaniels added two free throws with 9.9 seconds to go, and Wa-Hi survived with a 57-49 win.

"I was very pleased with the first half," Blue Devil coach Jill Meliah said. "They (Eastmont) made a valiant effort in coming back. I think my team just likes to give me gray hairs and make things interesting."

Weisner scored 10 first-quarter points, and McDaniels drained a Blue Devil trey with five seconds left in the first, to produce a 17-10 lead after one quarter.

Wa-Hi opened the second period with an aggressive press and scorching shooting. The Blue Devils hit eight of their first nine shots from the field to open the second. Weisner hit all four of her shots, and McDaniels’ trey culminated an 18-5 Blue Devil run that produced the 35-15 lead.

"We stole a lot of balls and got on a big run," Weisner said. "We always want to come out with intensity. The game yesterday (a 60-58 victory over Kamiakin), we didn’t come out very intense (Wa-Hi trailed 24-10 after one). We didn’t want to do that again tonight."

Eastmont cut the Blue Devil lead to 38-21 at intermission.

"We started with defensive stops," Meliah said of the first half. "Then we got out and ran and got some easy looks."

The Wildcats responded.

Kendra Scott drained two of her five treys and scored eight of her team-high 19 points in the third period as Eastmont cut the Wa-Hi lead to 45-32 after three quarters.

Scott drained two more 3s — the Wildcats hit eight for the game — as Eastmont closed to within 52-49 with 41.7 seconds left to culminate a 28-14 second-half run.

"They started pressuring us way more," Weisner said. "They used a full-court press, a box-and-one, and we couldn’t get the ball in. We couldn’t get very good shots off."

The Blue Devils got just enough offense with Weisner buckets sandwiched around a Libbie Jimenez trey to keep the lead at 52-44 with 2:04 to play. The Wildcats took advantage of Blue Devil missed free throws to get it down to the 52-49 margin.

"They started running a box-and-one on Jamie and that kind of threw us off," Meliah added of the second half. "That’s the first time we’ve seen it and we got a little stagnant offensively. It’s something we can work on and it’s an easy fix."

Baker led a Blue Devil defense that forced 21 Eastmont turnovers with six steals. Baker and McDaniels each had five assists as Wa-Hi handed out 13 assists on its 20 field goals.

McDaniels finished with 11 points, and Andrea Hamada and Reardon added six each. Weisner hit 9-of-14 shots from the floor, 4-of-5 from the free-throw line to score 23, and completed a double-double with a game-high 16 rebounds.

"Jamie has the ability and knows when to take over games," Meliah said. "She’s very special to have on this team."

The Blue Devils improve to 6-4 in the division, and will get Gabby Anderson back after she returns from family business Tuesday.

And the schedule gets better. After a stretch of three road games in four days last weekend, and a trip to Eisenhower Friday, Wa-Hi finishes the regular season with four consecutive home games.

"We feel good and are back to normal," Weisner said of the end of the Blue Devil travels. "After Yakima, we have four straight home games, and we’re feeling pretty confident about that. We just need to play more steady throughout the whole game."

EASTMONT (49) — Waterhouse 1-3 1-2 3, Hardgrove 1-3 0-0 3, Gilbert 1-1 0-0 3, Telford 2-6 1-2 6, Scott 6-13 2-2 19, Fabian 1-3 1-2 3, Degman 0-0 0-0 0, Gilstrap 2-7 2-6 6, Keane 0-1 0-2 0, Reid 0-2 0-1 0, Azurdia 1-9 4-6 6. Totals 15-48 11-23 49.

WA-HI (57) — Baker 2-7 1-5 5, Jacobson 0-1 0-0 0, Weisner 9-14 4-5 23, Adkins 0-1 0-0 0, McDaniels 3-11 2-2 11, Hamada 2-5 2-2 6, Reardon 2-4 2-2 6, Christensen 1-3 1-1 3, Jimenez 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 20-50 12-17 57.

Eastmont 10 11 11 17 — 49

Wa-Hi 17 21 7 12 — 57

3-point goals —EHS 8-15 (Hardgrove 1-1, Gilbert 1-1, Telford 1-2, Scott 5-8, Gilstrap 0-2, Azurdia 0-1), Wa-Hi 5-16 (Baker 0-1, Weisner 1-2, McDaniels 3-10, Jimenez 1-2). Total fouls—EHS 19, Wa-Hi 21. Fouled out—EHS (Scott). Technical fouls—none. Rebounds—EHS 34 (Gilstrap 7), Wa-Hi 39 (Weisner 16). Turnovers—EHS 21, Wa-Hi 20. Assists—EHS 12 (Telford 3), Wa-Hi 13 (Baker 5, McDaniels 5).

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