WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi’s game with Chiawana came down to free throws Friday night, but the game was lost in the third quarter.
Madi Doepker scored 14 points in the first half to help give the Blue Devils a 22-14 lead at the break, but an almost 10-minute long scoreless streak as the second half began proved disastrous as the Riverhawks picked up a 42-39 victory in both teams’ Mid-Columbia Conference openers.
The loss was the first for Wa-Hi (4-1) after opening the season on a four-game winning streak. Chiawana, which defeated the Blue Devils in the district title game last season, improved to 3-4.
Doepker, a 5-foot-10 sophomore forward, finished with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 6-of-9 shooting from the charity stripe. She completed a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds.
On the whole, however, the Blue Devils had a terrible shooting night, hitting just 28.3 percent of their shots from the field. From the get-go Wa-Hi struggled to establish its transition offense, and they weren’t able to execute in the half-court offense.
“I think part of that was Chiawana,” Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said. “They’re physical and defensively they played well.
“But also I feel like we beat ourselves,” she continued. “We just couldn’t — we weren’t executing. Everything I’ve been preaching to them and praising them about, we just didn’t do tonight. We didn’t run the floor, we didn’t execute, we forced a lot of stuff and ended up beating ourselves because of it.”
Sophomore guard MiKayla Ferenz was the only other Blue Devil to reach double-digits with 10 points. Senior post Torri Crawford (6-2) added seven points.
“Madi Doepker can score, but tonight we needed somone else to step up and score too, and tonight that didn’t happen,” Meliah said.
Delaney Hodgins scored 12 points to lead the Riverhawks, but it was Jennifer Gonzales’ three triples off the bench that sparked Chiawana to the win.
Wa-Hi entered the fourth quarter with a three-point deficit that expanded to six when Jennifer Gonzales hit one of her 3-pointers.
“I feel like we got some decent looks, we just couldn’t get anything to fall,” Meliah said of her team’s extended dry spell. “In the first half I thought we got a lot of second chances off of rebounds and I thought (in the second half) we a little bit got tired, and we got completely taken out of our game.
“We did not respond very well, and so that’s something that we need to learn how to respond when things are not going our way,” Meliah said.
A Crawford pull-up jumper was the first bucket for Wa-Hi since the end of the first half and pulled the Blue Devils within four, 28-24, with 55 seconds elapsed in the fourth.
A four-point spurt from Doepker on consecutive trips down the floor — a three-point play and a free throw — gave the Blue Devils life and pulled them within 32-30 with 3:08 remaining.
But Wa-Hi got no closer the rest of the way.
Down 36-34 with 54 seconds remaining, Wa-Hi was forced to foul. But the Blue Devils hadn’t yet accumulated enough team fouls to put Chiawana in the bonus, and the Riverhawks were able to run 30 seconds off the clock before going to the charity stripe, where they proved deadly.
Bailey Cartwright hit all four of her chances in consecutive trips to the line to extend Chiawana’s lead to six with 14 seconds remaining and ice the game.
The Blue Devils struggled from the free-thow line in the loss, hitting 12-of-18 for the night and missing multiple front ends of 1-and-1 chances.
“Typically we’re a good free throw shooting team,” Meliah said. “We shoot pressure free throws in practice all the time, and so it just wasn’t our night tonight.”
Wa-Hi visits Kennewick Saturday at 5:45 p.m.
“We have two choices right now — we can use this as motivation, or we can look for excuses,” Meliah said. “The girls have to decide what to do.”
CHIAWANA 48, WALLA WALLA 39
CHIAWANA (48) — B. Hodgins 0-0 0-0 0, Perez 0-2 0-0 0, D. Hodgins 4-12 4-4 12, Alferness 1-3 0-0 2, B. Gonzales 2-4 0-0 5, J. Gonzales 3-10 1-2 10, Cartwright 2-7 7-11 11, Sullivan 0-0 0-0 0, Roach 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 13-40 12-17 42.
WALLA WALLA (39) — Hodnefield 1-5 0-0 2, Greene 0-2 0-0 0, Crawford 3-5 1-3 7, Molitor 0-4 2-2 2, M. Ferenz 3-9 3-4 10, Sirmon 0-5 0-0 0, Doepker 6-13 6-9 18, K. Ferenz 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 13-46 12-18 39.
Chiawana 7 7 11 17 — 42
Wa-Hi 10 12 0 17 — 39
3-pointers — Chia 4-18 (B. Gonzales, J. Gonzales 3), Wa-Hi 1-12 (M. Ferenz); Total fouls — Chia 15, Wa-Hi 15. Fouled out — Wa-Hi (Doepker). Technical fouls — Wa-Hi (illegal substitution). Rebounding — Chia 27 (Cartwright 8), Wa-Hi 38 (Doepker 10). Turnovers — Chia 15, Wa-Hi 15. Assists — Chia 5, Wa-Hi 5.