By KEN MORGAN
of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA - Waitsburg-Prescott jumped to a 24-16 halftime lead over DeSales here Friday in Southeast 2B League boys basketball action.
The Irish roared back with a 23-point third period to grab a 39-34 lead.
But W-P is leading the league for a reason, as it outscored DeSales 28-12 over the last eight minutes and claimed a 62-51 win.
W-P remains in first place with a 4-0 SE2B mark, and 9-1 overall.
W-P used an aggressive man and zone defense to hold the Irish to 4-of-16 shooting in the first half.
W-P got eight points from 6-foot-4 senior post Matt Hamilton as W-P expanded a 10-5 lead after one quarter to the 24-16 edge at the break.
Victor Mata was the Irish offense as Mata had eight of DeSales' 16 points in the first half.
"In the first half, we played our game," W-P coach T.J. Scott said. "Take care of the ball, limit their opportunities, block out and don't give them second shots, and contest everything. We were horrible offensively, but we held them down so much that we had an eight-point lead. I can live with that."
Enter Tommy Gregg and a fired up Irish squad. Gregg hit 5-of-8 from the floor in the third stanza and 2-of-3 from the line to score 14 points and lead DeSales on a 23-10 third-period run.
Travis Haen took a feed from Sean Williams and drained a trey at the buzzer as the Irish capped the quarter and took a five-point lead to the fourth.
"The kids responded real well in the third quarter," Irish coach Allyn Griffin said. "We put a lot of pressure on them. Tommy has the freedom to create and make good decisions and he did (with 14 points). He's a great senior leader. We got back in the game and then some."
"We do this every once in awhile. We think we are really good all of a sudden," Scott said of the W-P third period. "We stopped playing defense and tried to get into an up-and-down scoring match, and that's not our game. They (DeSales) kicked our tails. They absolutely hammered us."
W-P responded. Kris Cady led a defensive charge that held DeSales to 3-of-13 shooting and forced five turnovers, and Cady put home seven of his game-high 17 points in the period as W-P went on a 28-12 run to finish with the 62-51 win.
"All I said between the third and fourth (quarters) was ‘to quit playing their game and play our game,'" Scott said. "In the fourth quarter, we went back to playing good defense, taking care of the ball, and limiting possessions. We took back control."
"We dropped out of the pressure for fatigue," Griffin said. "Our guys were getting a little tired and we backed them off a bit, and they (W-P) took advantage. Waitsburg-Prescott is a good team and good in the half-court. A tale of two quarters."
Hamilton was big underneath for W-P with a double-double - 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Dustin Wooderchak hit enough free throws (5-of-9) down the stretch to hold off DeSales over the last two minutes.
"I'm not super pleased," Scott said of the win. "I'm not a fan of flip the switch (basketball). At the same time, we played with a lot of heart, as they (DeSales) just kept bringing it at us.
"Matt (Hamilton) had his coming out party tonight with his best game," he continued. "Kris was all over the place and brought a little offensive game. When your leading scorer (Zach Bartlow with nine points) doesn't see the touches, we had guys step up. We've got to avoid that lapse in a quarter."
Gregg led the Irish with 16 points, Mata finished with 11, and Haen and Nick Wales each chipped in eight.
"We got a lot of good things on film to take a look at," Griffin said of the Irish effort. "We're just going to continue to get better. We'll get in better shape and be able to do that (third period) the whole game."
The Irish traveled to Dayton Saturday and W-P played at Tri-Cities Prep.
Waitsburg-Prescott 62, DeSales 51
W-P (62) - Hofer 3-7 1-4 7, Cady 8-14 1-1 17, Zuger 0-4 0-0 0, Hernandez 2-3 2-2 6, Bartlow 4-11 1-2 9, Brock 0-1 2-2 2, Wooderchak 0-5 5-9 5, Beasley 0-0 0-0 0, Brannock 1-3 0-0 2, Hamilton 7-10 0-0 14. Totals 25-58 12-20 62.
DESALES (51) - Gregg 6-10 2-3 16, Donnelly 0-2 0-0 0, Fazzari 0-3 0-0 0, Williams 1-5 0-0 3, Mata 3-7 4-5 11, Cordeiro 1-7 3-4 5, Leahy 0-3 0-0 0, 3-4 0-0 8, Wales 2-4 4-4 8. Totals 16-45 13-16 51.
W-P 10 14 10 28 - 62
DeSales 5 11 23 12 - 51
3-point goals - W-P 0-6 (Zuger 0-2, Bartlow 0-1, Wooderchak 0-2, Brannock 0-1), DeS 6-13 (Gregg 2-3, Fazzari 0-1, Williams 1-2, Mata 1-4, Haen 2-3). Total fouls - W-P 12, DeS 21. Fouled out - DeS (Haen). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - W-P 37 (Hamilton 10), DeS 29 (Wales 6). Turnovers - W-P 16, DeS 19. Assists - W-P 9 (Cady 3), DeS 6 (Williams 3).