Blue Devils' defense shuts down Bombers

Wa-Hi's girls open the Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A season with a 40-23 victory over Richland Friday.

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Wa-Hi's Kiana Molitor (15) dribbles around Richland's Kennedy Corrigan (24).

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One with hands turned in and the other with hands turned out, Wa-Hi's Andrea Hamada (20) competes for a loose ball she tipped away from Richland's Anna Croskrey (3).

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Wa-Hi's Jaiden Hodnefield (22) keeps the ball out of reach under physical pressure from Richland Friday evening.

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Wa-Hi's Kiana Molitor (15) closes her eyes hopping in to the key under multi-armed pressure from four Richland players Friday evening.

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Wa-Hi's Maddy Sirmon (25) is hassled by tight pressure from Richland's Kayla Catone (10) during the second half of their game Friday evening.

WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi turned up its defensive intensity here Friday to open the Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A girls basketball league season.

The Blue Devils held Richland to 14 percent shooting from the field to overcome 23 turnovers and post a league-opening 40-23 win over the Bombers.

"I kept telling them (Wa-Hi) that we're going to do it with our defense," Blue Devil coach Jill Meliah said. "That (defense) is what we're going to hang our hat on all year. Our defense played really well.

"We were killing ourselves in the first half with turnovers (14)," Meliah added. "We would work so hard defensively and then turn the ball over. We found more of a rhythm offensively in the second half and that led to some good things."

The first 30 seconds set the stage for what was to come. Wa-Hi's Kiana Molitor turned the ball over, but stole it right back and dished to Maddie Jacobson as the Blue Devils grabbed a 2-0 lead.

Wa-Hi finished the first quarter with eight turnovers and forced six Bomber turnovers in grabbing an 8-4 lead.

Andrea Hamada and Jaiden Hodnefield drained treys - the only two Wa-Hi would get - in the second and the Blue Devil defense limited Richland to 3-of-15 shooting from the floor as Wa-Hi jumped the lead to 20-14 at intermission.

Wa-Hi, which pressed full court from the get-go, ran into foul trouble in the third and turned to its bench.

"We're going to press and get out and run," Meliah said. "We're going to foul people, I get that. But part of our strength is that we have a deep bench."

Freshman Maddy Sirmon came off the Blue Devil bench and scored three points in the quarter and junior Allie Greene came off the bench to grab two rebounds and two steals and lead the defense that held the Bombers to four points.

Wa-Hi took a 30-18 lead to the fourth.

"I help to get stops on defense and help to get rebounds," Greene said of her sixth-man role. "I help our defensive game."

The Bombers got a bucket from Britney Pringle with 6:30 left in the third period to cut the Wa-Hi lead to 24-18, but Richland didn't score again until the 4:43 mark of the fourth period.

"We need to work well as a team and keep going out strong," Greene said of the Wa-Hi defensive effort. "It all starts with our defense. As long as our defense keeps going strong, our offense will follow."

"Allie was the difference-maker tonight," Meliah said. "We really needed some rebounds and she went in and lead us in rebounds. She was huge."

Greene, a 5-foot-8 guard, grabbed a game-high eight boards, six of those coming in the second half, to spark the Wa-Hi win.

"We are all blocking out so well, that we are all going for it (the rebound)," Greene said of her work on the glass. "As long as you get a good block-out, you're at least going to try and get the rebound. It was one of my better (rebounding) games. I worked really hard and our whole team worked great together."

Greene, for most of the third quarter, was the only upper classman on the floor for Wa-Hi. Greene was surrounded by two sophomores and two freshman as Wa-Hi put this one away.

"I didn't even notice," Greene said of her experienced position. "I consider everyone the same as me. We're just equal."

The fourth quarter belonged to Torri Crawford. Crawford scored seven of her game-high 13 in the final period, and added the exclamation point with 3:20 left. Crawford took a feed from MiKayla Ferenz - her fourth assist of the game - in stride breaking down the lane and finished for a 40-20 Wa-Hi lead.

Kayla Catone hit the Bombers' only trey (they were 1-of-14 on the night) with three ticks left to run the final to 40-23.

Wa-Hi went for its second league win at Moses Lake Saturday.

"We're having a great start to the season," Greene said. "We're just going to keep getting progressively better throughout the year."

Wa-Hi 40, Richland 23

RICHLAND (23) - Croskrey 0-11 0-2 0, Catone 1-4 0-0 3, Perry 0-3 1-2 1, Corrigan 1-4 0-0 2, Pringle 1-15 2-4 4, Weitz 3-7 2-5 8, Duckworth 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 1-5 3-9 5. Totals 7-49 8-22 23.

WA-HI (40) - Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Greene 1-2 0-0 2, Jacobson 2-7 0-1 4, Crawford 6-9 1-3 13, Molitor 0-6 1-3 1, Hamada 2-4 0-0 5, M. Ferenz 1-4 0-0 2, Hodnefield 2-5 0-1 5, Heiser 0-0 0-0 0, Jimenez 0-1 0-0 0, Sirmon 2-7 2-3 6, K. Ferenz 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 17-47 4-11 40.

Richland 4 10 4 5 - 23

Wa-Hi 8 12 10 10 - 40

3-point goals - Rich 1-14 (Croskrey 0-5, Catone 1-2, Corrigan 0-2, Pringle 0-5), Wa-Hi 2-12 (Jacobson 0-1, Molitor 0-1, Hamada 1-2, M. Ferenz 0-3, Hodnefield 1-3, Jimenez 0-1, Sirmon 0-1). Total fouls - Rich 12, Wa-Hi 19. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Rich 31 (Pringle 5), Wa-Hi 54 (Greene 8). Turnovers - Rich 16, Wa-Hi 23. Assists - Rich 5 (Perry 2), Wa-Hi 11 (M. Ferenz 4).

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