COLLEGE PLACE - Emotion carried Walla Walla Valley Academy to an 8-5 lead over first-place DeSales here Tuesday in girls Southeast 2B basketball action.
The Irish defense finally wore down the Knights and the Irish survived a poor shooting night to defeat WWVA, 41-24.
In pre-game ceremonies, WWVA recognized its only senior, Kristianna Buell, and its coach, Monty Buell, who announced he will take a leave of absence from coaching next season to do research in Thailand.
"I was not expecting to see all the former players come out," coach Buell said. "It was pretty emotional and it actually helped us. We jumped out to an early lead and the emotion was good for that. Unfortunately, we can't have that sort of emotion every quarter."
The Irish attempted 10 shots from behind the arc and made one. Emily Field, Buell, Kailee Croft and Hannah Woolever each scored two points as the Knights took that 8-5 lead after one.
"It was ugly," Irish coach Tim Duncan said. "We've got five kids (Ali Zander, Stephanie Ferrel, Chantel Blanc, Brigit Lyons and Alex Buley) that are banged up and didn't suit up. We just came off the biggest weekend of the year (wins over Asotin and Waitsburg-Prescott). Obviously, we weren't ready to play. I understand it."
DeSales scored on buckets from Hannah Leahy and Annie Higgins to open the second period and grab a 9-8 lead with 6:05 left in the half. The Irish would never relinquish the lead.
Treys from Clarie Konen and Molli Lesko finished the half and gave the Irish a 15-10 lead.
The Knights wouldn't go away. WWVA got within three points three times in the third quarter.
Free throws from Sarah Thompson cut the Irish lead to 15-12 two minutes into the half.
A Field bucket made it 17-14 DeSales with 4:50 left.
An Amber Hellie deuce made it 19-16 Irish with 3:40 left.
The Irish went on an 8-2 run to close the third and take a 27-18 margin to the fourth.
"Our girls fought hard and kept it close," coach Buell said. "DeSales is a good solid team and we had some breakdowns. It (the game) actually gave us some confidence going into the playoffs next week."
The Irish went inside to Abby Crowley and Allison Wujek in the fourth to stretch the lead.
Crowley got an inside bucket, Wujek scored four points from inside -one a three-point play - Higgins connected from the arc, and Lesko capped this one with a steal and coast-to-coast drive to run the final to 41-24.
"We finally got them to move the ball from side to side and look inside," Duncan said of the fourth quarter. "We wouldn't move the ball in the first half. Once you move the ball, you can get it inside, and we were able to do that."
Megan Gregg and Field led the Knights with seven points each.
The loss marks the end of WWVA's regular SE2B season. After the weekend's Friendship tournament, WWVA begin district playoff action at Waitsburg-Prescott Tuesday.
"We've got a pretty tough road (in the playoffs)," coach Buell said. "Waitsburg beat us pretty handily the two times we played them. But it (the playoffs) is a new season. We'll go out and give them as tough a game as we can and see what happens."
Higgins and Crowley each scored eight for the Irish, and Ashlyn Lyons grabbed a game-leading eight rebounds.
The 41-24 win clinches the No. 1 seed to the district tournament. After the Irish conclude the regular season - hopefully with Ferrel, Brigit Lyons, and Blanc back in action - at Dayton Friday, the Irish host Asotin Tuesday in the first round of district play.
DeSales 41, Walla Walla Valley Academy 24
DESALES (41) - Konen 2-7 2-2 7, Higgins 3-12 0-0 8, Roach 0-0 0-0 0, Conley 0-1 0-0 0, Lesko 2-5 0-0 5, Wujek 3-6 1-5 7, Crowley 4-6 0-2 8, Lyons 1-4 0-0 2, Leahy 2-5 0-0 4, Prior 0-0 0-0 0, Baldwin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-46 3-9 41.
WWVA (24) - Woolever 0-0 2-2 2, Arnzen 0-5 0-1 0, Croft 1-2 0-0 2, Buell 1-8 0-2 2, Hellie 1-1 0-0 2, Gregg 3-3 0-1 7, Field 3-6 1-2 7, Thompson 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 9-26 5-10 24.
DeSales 5 10 12 14 - 41
WWVA 8 2 8 6 - 24
3-point goals - DeS 4-20 (Konen 1-5, Higgins 2-11, Lesko 1-4), WWVA 1-5 (Croft 0-1, Buell 0-1, Gregg 1-1, Field 0-2). Total fouls - DeS 15, WWVA 11. Fouled out -none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - DeS 31 (A. Lyons 8), WWVA 20 (Field 5). Turnovers - DeS 19, WWVA 26. Assists - DeS 11 (Higgins 3), WWVA 5 (Gregg 2).