By AMELIA VENEZIANO
of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Valley Academy lost a loser-out Southeast 2B District tournament game with Asotin Friday night at Whitman College's Sherwood Center.
Asotin, the district's No. 2 seed, topped No. 3 WWVA, 67-63.
"We played well," said WWVA coach Scott Wagner. "I hate to use this phrase, but the kids left it all on the floor. They played hard and gave it their best."
Asotin scored first and led throughout most of the first quarter. James Beck hit a big 3-pointer for the Knights late in the stanza to tie it at 11-all, but the Panthers' Grant Parsons answered with his own trey as Asotin closed the quarter with a 14-11 lead.
Asotin ran to a 21-18 lead halfway through the second period, whick was answered by WWVA's James Beck made a layin through traffic to move it to 21-20.
But for every score WWVA made, Asotin continued to have an answer, and floor leader Ben Servatius quickly posted six points to push the Panthers ahead and help close the half with a 33-28 lead.
The Panthers built leads of 37-30 and 44-35 throughout the third period, but WWVA kept fighting back. The Knights scrambled out of every hold, led by Daniel Lomeland's 26 points on the night, to keep it competitive and close the third stanza down 50-44.
By the fourth quarter, both teams were geared up for a close ballgame. Asotin's Servatius scored the Panther's first three points to open the final quarter, while WWVA's Lomeland posted six of his own in closing the gap to 53-51 with six minutes to play.
The Panthers pulled ahead again off a Servatius trey, but the Knights made a big scramble for a loose ball that paid off when Matthew Moore came up with gold and a big layin for two - and the second tie of the night at 61-61 with about a minute on the clock.
But WWVA wasn't able to turn the tie into a lead and watched as the Panthers ran off again. Late miscommunications near the net were costly, and two fouls on Servatius sent him to the line twice, where he went 3-for-3 and grabbed a final steal to end the game with the win.
"Ben's our main guy," said Asotin coach Eric Spencer. "He made those big free throws to seal the game for us. I don't care if a player is 16 or 25, but to make big free throws like that late in a close game is impressive."
Servatius had a double-double on the night with 29 points and 13 boards.
While Asotin lived to play another game against Dayton Saturday, the Knights' season is done.
Seniors Ian Fowler, Beck, Zach Fry and Brian Wittlake played their last game in maroon.
"They were really solid leaders for us and they worked hard," Wagner said. "They all made strong contributions to us."
And Wagner was pleased with WWVA's season. The Knights finish the year 12-12 overall.
"They kids worked hard and got better all year long," he said. "As a coach, that's all you can ask for. They did better and worked hard every game."
Grabbing the second district ticket to state is on the Panthers' minds.
"We made it to state for the first time in 25 years, after beating Dayton," Spencer said. "We'd be fortunate to repeat that."
Asotin 67, WWVA 63
ASOTIN (67) - Whittaker 0 0-0 0, McIntosh 0 1-2 1, Heitstuman 4 2-2 10, Dalton 7 0-0 16, Hollingshead 0 0-0 0, Styner 0 0-0 0, Parsons 1 0-0 3, Servatius 10 7-8 29, Morton 0 0-0 0, Trimmell 2 1-2 7, Scheibe 0 1-4 1, Lyons 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 12-16 67.
WWVA (63) - Failing 6 0-2 12, Moore 4 1-2 9, Fowler 0 0-0 0, Beck 5 0-0 12, Schuette 0 0-0 0, Lomeland 11 2-3 26, Fry 1 2-3 4, Wittlake 0 0-0 0, Hanson 0 0-0 0, Wagner 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 5-8 63.
Asotin 14 19 17 17 - 67
WWVA 11 17 16 19 - 63
3-point goals - Aso 6 (Heitstuman 2, Servatius, Parsons, Trimmell 2), WWVA 4 (Lomeland 2, Beck 2). Total fouls - Aso 12, WWVA 16. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Aso 46 (Servatus 13), WWVA 31 (Moore 7). Turnovers - Aso 11, WWVA 13.