WALLA WALLA — With Blue Devils fans overflowing into the lobby, and with Michael Weisner popping 11 first-quarter points, fifth-ranked Wa-Hi burst from the blocks on the way to a comfortable 75-62 Big Nine Conference Cascade Division boys basketball victory over eighth-ranked Eisenhower here Friday night.
In an earlier meeting in Yakima, Wa-Hi beat the Cadets 64-55 in a game that stayed close until the final minutes.
In Friday’s marquee matchup between Class 4A powers, Wa-Hi led 20-10 after the first quarter and 39-24 at halftime.
"We got off to a good start, and that’s really what we wanted to do. We shot the ball pretty well (27-49 from the floor)," Wa-Hi coach John Golden said. "We were real patient. Compare this to when we played them up there, when we saw the triangle (defense). Tonight we ran some good stuff and got some good looks.
"Michael was unbelievable that first half (7-for-8, including 5-for-6 3-pointers, for 19 points)." Golden said. "It was a great team effort. In the second half, we traded baskets a little too much, but overall it was a great effort.
"Ike is a good team, and I was just proud of the way we came out for the third Friday in a row and put on a great show against a great team," he continued. "That’s three great teams in a row on Fridays here (wins over Richland 51-49, Kamiakin 77-75 two OTs and Ike), and our guys are stepping up and doing the right things."
Blue Devil athletic legends Dean Derby and Drew Bledsoe signed autographs before the game in the lobby and received Wa-Hi’s Big Blue Booster Professional Athletic Alumni Award at halftime.
The Blue Devils increased their lead to 17 points, 54-37, late in the third quarter before taking a 57-44 lead into the final eight minutes.
Ike cut the gap to nine points midway through the final quarter, 64-55, but with 49 seconds to play Wa-Hi led by 16 points after field goals by Weisner and Gary Winston, along with five free throws (two by Jake Aguiar, one by Ryan James and two by Weisner).
Ike scored the next five points, on a bucket by Robert Bonser and a 3-pointer by James Lopez to pull within 11, 73-62.
Aguiar hit two free throws to end the scoring with 10 seconds on the clock.
Weisner finished with a game-high 34 points. He hit 12-of-15 shots from the floor, including 6-of-7 3-pointers, and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
"I think we came out hot tonight, in all aspects of the game," Weisner said. "We were playing defense. We were moving the ball well. We were scoring. Overall it was a good team effort.
"I wouldn’t say we had a certain plan to get me open," Weisner continued. "We just always do the same things. I think we have a pretty good concept with our offense. Once we execute that well, it’s pretty hard to stop.
"Guys were finding me," he said. "They were passing the ball well. Everyone was setting good screens.
"It was just a good one for us," Weisner said. "I think it was a big one for us. Ike was second in the league (tied with Richland at 7-2), and this gives us a little more distance."
Winston finished with 18 points and a game-high six assists and three steals. Winston hit 11 points in the second half, and he kicked off the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a driving layup to give Wa-Hi an 18-point lead, 44-26, with 7:10 on the clock.
"We were pretty focused," Winston said. "We just wanted to get the win, because next weekend is a big weekend (at Richland Friday and at home against Chiawana Saturday).
"Ike is a good team," Winston said. "They switch up their defense. They don’t really play a lot of man, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.
"Weisner’s shot was on, so we’ve got to give him the ball," he said. "It just like anyone else who’s hot, you give him the ball. Tonight was his night."
Weisner and Colton Arias snared six rebounds each to help Wa-Hi outboard Ike 29-26.
Lopez led Ike with 18 points, and Bonser scored 16. Ryan Watson chipped in 14 points and six rebounds.
"They’re a tough matchup," Golden said of the Cadets. "Lopez is very good, but I thought overall, some of our other guys played very well. Jake Aguiar hit seven free throws. Watson came in and gave us some minutes.
"It’s kind of becoming the theme," he continued. "We’ve got guys who are finding their roles.
"We came out in the second half and got two good shots from Gary right away," Golden said. "That five points from him to start the second half really set the tone.
"I’m just proud of the way these guys are playing, and we’ve just got to keep it going," Golden added. "There are no easy ones."
EISENHOWER (62) — Scott 1-4 0-0 6, Morioka 1-5 2-2 4, Lopez 6-20 4-5 18, Mount 1-1 2-2 4, Clayton 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 6-10 0-1 14, Urlacher 0-1 0-0 0, Zumwalt 0-0 0-0 0, Bonser 7-9 2-2 16. Totals 24-50 10-12 62.
WA-HI (75) — Winston 8-17 0-2 18, Aguiar 0-2 7-9 7, Crawford 0-0 0-0 0, Porter 0-0 0-0 0, Arias 4-6 0-1 8, Weisner 12-15 4-4 34, Maddess 0-0 0-0 0, James 0-0 2-6 0, Alden 0-1 0-0 0, Watson 2-7 0-0 4, Sumerlin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-49 13-22 75.
Eisenhower 10 14 20 18 — 62
Wa-Hi 20 19 18 18 — 75
3-point goals — Eisenhower 4-14 (Scott 0-1, Morioka 0-3, Lopez 2-8, Watson 2-2 ), Wa-Hi 8-16 (Winston 2-7, Aguiar 0-2, Weisner 6-7).Total fouls — Eisenhower 16 (None), Wa-Hi 13 (None). Fouled out — None; Technical fouls — None. Rebounds — Eisenhower 26 (Watson 6), Wa-Hi 29 (Arias 6, Weisner 6). Turnovers — Eisenhower 14, Wa-Hi 13. Assists — Eisenhower 10 (Morioka 3), Wa-Hi 15 (Winston 6). Steals — Eisenhower 6 (Bonser 2), Wa-Hi 7 (Winston 3).