WAITSBURG - Romance wasn't in the air - and no Cinderella story to be found - Tuesday night in the opening round of the Southeast 2B girls District 9 Tournament between Waitsburg-Prescott and Walla Walla Valley Academy.
No. 3-seeded W-P dispatched No. 6 WWVA with ease, building a 34-9 lead through one half en route to a 65-31 lashing of the Knights.
W-P's Dionna Baker, a 5-foot-7 forward, led all scorers with 17 points in the blowout, while amassing nine boards (including three offensive rebounds) and four steals. W-P's other terror down low, forward Ronnie Hulce, notched 11 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Waitsburg-Prescott (8-2 in SE2B play, 11-7 overall) overwhelmed the Knights (2-11 SE2B, 6-12) early on with a suffocating man defense, allowing W-P to total 18 steals and causing WWVA 20 turnovers.
For W-P coach Jerry Baker, tough defense was business as usual - it was the scoring and transition game that impressed him.
"Oh yeah, but we've played pretty good defense all year," coach Baker said of his team's aggressive defense. "I've been pretty happy with our defense, so nothing new on the defensive side. We've been playing tough defense all year.
"We wanted to pick it up and run the floor a little bit better," coach Baker said. "We've got a lot of team speed and that was our goal tonight - to use that. I thought we did a good job tonight of running the floor early and we did a good job of getting the ball inside to our scorers."
Baker and Hulce combined for 12 of W-P's 16 first-quarter points. Guard Kristin Potter threw in four more points as W-P built a 16-4 lead through the first quarter.
"They (Dionna Baker and Hulce) did, they had big nights," coach Baker said. "And D (Baker) and Ronnie have both been having big nights. You get the ball inside to D and it's pretty much game over. Either she's going to score or you're going to foul her, and if she does miss, she's going to get her own rebound because nobody can outjump her, so it's always been a goal to get the ball inside to her."
Hulce ended the first period with a bucket and opened the second quarter with a free throw and then three more buckets to go on a 9-2 run over WWVA, a jumper from the edge of the 3-point line from Megan Gregg being the Knights' only answer over that stretch.
"They had pretty good defense and their press hurt us, but we had open shots and we just didn't hit them," WWVA coach Monty Buell said. "In the first half we had something like eight open shots and we didn't make them. We made a few, but those were all contested and free throws.
"They came out of the gates and we didn't play the kind of defense we're capable of playing," coach Buell said, "but their posts are really strong. Ronnie and Dionna - we didn't really have an answer for them. When they jumped out on us like they did, then it's really tough to catch up."
With W-P limiting WWVA's open shots, and the Knights largely missing on those they got (WWVA shot 10-of-41 on the night), W-P's lead ballooned to 40-9 with 5:44 left in the third quarter. Coach Baker then sent in the bench players en masse.
Without Hulce and Baker on the floor, W-P didn't have the same success penetrating WWVA's zone, so instead it just shot over the zone.
Junior guard Katy Hofer started the barrage just 30 seconds after taking the court with a 3, and junior Samantha Moss nailed another 3 on W-P's next trip down the court, growing W-P's lead to the largest of the night, 46-9.
Kayla Huxoll and Hannah Helms also had one 3-pointer apiece.
WWVA, which brought only seven players to the tournament compared to W-P's 12, capitalized on bad passes from W-P's bench and outscored W-P 20-14 in the fourth. Knight Kristianna Buell did most of the damage, scoring nine of her team-high 16 points in the fourth.
W-P faces DeSales, a 42-28 loser to Asotin in the first-second seed match in Walla Walla on Tuesday night, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Whitman College.
DeSales entered the tournament with an 11-1 league record and the first seed. The Irish hold two victories over W-P: a 41-30 victory Jan. 13 and a 47-40 triumph Feb. 4.
"Both teams get up for each other," coach Baker said. "We both know each other so well. He's (DeSales coach Tim Duncan) not going to do anything we don't know, we're not going to do anything they won't know. We play each other 10-15 times a year over in the summertime, so we know each other pretty well. It's going to be a matter of execution with DeSales."
Waitsburg-Prescott 65, WWVA 31
WWVA (61) - Woolever 0-3 1-2 1. Buell 5-13 6-9 16, Arnzen 3-10 0-2 6, Field 1-7 2-4 4, Greg 1-4 1-4 3, Croft 0-2 1-2 1, Hellie 0-2 0-0 0, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-41 11-23 31.
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT (64) - Baker 5-12 7-9 17, Hulce 5-9 1-2 11, Potter 3-10 2-4 8, Harris 4-7 0-0 8, Helms 1-5 3-4 6, Brannock 2-8 0-0 4, Huxoll 1-2 0-0 3, Hofer 1-3 0-0 3, Moss 1-1 0-0 3, Miller 0-0 1-2 1, Doepker 0-2 1-2 1, Goenen 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-61 15-23 65.
WWVA 4 5 8 14 - 31
Waitsburg-Prescott 16 18 20 11 - 65
3-point goals - WWVA 0-8, W-P 4-18 (Helms 1-3, Huxoll 1-2, Hofer 1-2, Moss 1-1). Total fouls - WWVA 14, W-P 19. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds - WWVA 25 (Buell 10), W-P 47 (Baker 9). Turnovers - WWVA 20, W-P 23. Assists - WWVA none, W-P 7 (Potter).