WALLA WALLA - Led by guard Deon Davis' 17 points - and more importantly five steals - the Pendleton Buckaroos dismantled the Wa-Hi boys Tuesday night, racking up 12 steals and 23 turnovers en route to a 60-32 victory.
The Blue Devils were in a hole from the beginning as Davis nailed his first shot, a 3-pointer, and the Bucks never looked back.
Defense was the name of the game for Pendleton, which is now 5-1 on the season.
"We focused on taking care of the ball and defensive pressure," Pendleton assistant coach Mitch Morioka said. "Tonight we played four quarters. I think we ended up with eight or nine turnovers, which is phenomenal for us getting up and down the floor. And defensively, I mean - holding a team to 30 points is pretty darn solid."
The Bucks played a standard 2-3 zone, and thanks to point guard Darius Polhamus and Davis' speed on the perimeter, the Blue Devils were never able to set their feet and make Pendleton pay by shooting the 3. When Wa-Hi did penetrate the zone, 6-foot-10 Bryan Beard put his four-plus inches of height advantage to great use, blocking shots and creating turnovers.
"You know they've got that 6-10 kid (Beard), so I'd play zone too," Wa-Hi coach John Golden said. "Put Davis out there in pressure and you've got (Beard) in there to clean it up. They run it well; we just didn't shoot well and didn't take care of it and we have to regroup."
Thanks to that pressure, the Blue Devils shot just 25 percent on the night, while the aforementioned turnovers and steals led to easy baskets - and 46.3 percent shooting from the field (35.7 percent from 3).
"We want to get after it on the defensive end because we want to get up and down (the court), and if we can force them into longer shots it gives us an easier chance to get those transition baskets," Morioka said. "We did that tonight. I thought we ran the floor well and had some easy baskets.
"I think we forced them (Wa-Hi) out of their offensive rhythm tonight," he continued. "Any time you can get a team shooting the 3-pointer, we can live with that."
Senior guard Nick Peasley, who led Wa-Hi with 12 points against Southridge last Saturday, was just 2-of-8 from the floor (1-of-5 from 3).
"They're a pretty good team," Golden said. "We shot 25 percent and turned it over 23 times, so that's kind of the story right there. Give them some credit, they pressured us pretty good, but again, we didn't shoot the ball very well, we didn't take care of the ball very well, and we had a lot of growing pains.
"We're pretty young, not much experience, and that's a tough team," Golden said. "We have to regroup."
No Blue Devil scored in the double-digits. Michael Lesmeister led Wa-Hi with six points on 3-of-5 shooting, while guard Spencer Locati chipped in five more.
Wa-Hi's starting forwards Tanner Cranor (6-foot-6) and Rob Ferenz (6-foot-4) were largely ineffectual against Pendleton's Beard, combining for just one bucket by Cranor on three shots. Ferenz was 0-of-4 (0-of-1 from 3).
The Blue Devils hung with Pendleton though the first quarter, with baskets by Peasley and senior guard Josh Eggers limiting Wa-Hi's deficit to 12-7, but a 20-5 run through the second gave Pendleton an insurmountable, 29-12 lead at the half.
The Buckaroos didn't slow up at the half as they built a 46-19 lead with 1:06 remaining in the third when 6-3 guard Isaiah Moses nailed a 3-pointer. Moses shot 100 percent (4-of-4, 1-of-1 from 3) on the night.
Polhamus scored 14 for the Bucks on 6-of-14 (1-of-5 from 3) shooting on the night. Beard scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Ferenz and Locati led the Blue Devils in rebounding with eight apiece.
Clarkston was Pendleton's lone loss, defeating the Buckaroos 71-61 at the Pendleton Red Lion Classic. The Bucks carry victories over La Grande, Baker and Pasco (a 70-50 victory, also at the Red Lion Classic).
Wa-Hi falls to 3-3 on the season and opens conference play at Richland Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Pendleton 60, Wa-Hi 32
PENDLETON (60) - Schnetzky 0-0 0-0 0, Boozer 0-2 0-1 0, Alger 1-4 1-2 3, George 1-2 0-0 2, Davis 7-15 3-6 17, Anderson, Logan 0-0 0-0 0, Futter 1-1 2-2 4, Polhamus 6-14 1-5 14, Madsen 2-2 1-4 5, Anderson, Tyler 0-3 0-0 0, Beard 3-7 0-2 6, Moses 4-4 0-0 9. Totals 25-54 5-16 60.
WA-HI (32) - Eggers 1-3 0-0 2, Rowley 1-5 1-2 3, Parnicky 0-1 0-0 0, Porter 1-6 0-0 2, Locati 2-8 0-1 5, Thonney 1-2 0-0 2, Peasley 2-8 0-1 5, Lesmeister 3-5 0-0 6, Arias 1-5 0-0 3, Jameson 1-5 0-0 2, Cranor 1-3 0-0 2, Ferenz 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 14-55 1-4 32.
PENDLETON 9 20 15 16 - 60
WA-HI 7 5 7 13 - 32
3-point goals - Pend 5-14 (Davis 3, Polhamus, Moses), Wa-Hi 3-18 (Locati, Peasley, Arias). Total fouls - Pend 15, Wa-Hi 17. Fouled out - Pend 1 (Beard), Wa-Hi none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Pend 31 (Beard 7), Wa-Hi 49 (Ferenz 8). Turnovers - Pend 6, Wa-Hi 23. Assists - Pend 15 (Polhamus 6), Wa-Hi 9 (Rowley 2, Jameson 2, Ferenz 2).