WALLA WALLA - Saturday's Big Nine Conference girls basketball game between Wa-Hi and Moses Lake in the Blue Devil gym did not figure to be much of a contest.
The Blue Devils entered with just one loss in conference play while the Chiefs had just one Big Nine win to their credit.
But if this league tilt proved anything, it proved that games are not won on paper.
Wa-Hi needed a late fourth-quarter surge to hold off the stubborn Chiefs during a 42-36 victory that improved its conference record to 6-1 and its overall mark to 11-4.
Moses Lake fell to 1-6 and 2-13.
"Moses Lake played hard. They pushed us," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said. "It wasn't pretty, but in the end, we found a way to win.
"A good team finds a way to win. A great team doesn't let outside forces bother them," said Meliah, who noted finals week, having Friday's game at Richland postponed and Saturday's 4 p.m. start time as outside forces. "That's where we want to be."
The Blue Devils managed just eight points in the opening quarter, but kept the visitors off the scoreboard.
Andrea Hamada drilled a left-angle 3 at the 6:49 mark to get Wa-Hi on the board. Kiana Molitor made it 5-0 on an in-lane crossover with 5:02 on the clock.
A Kate Ferenz putback with 1:47 left made it 7-0, and Madi Doepker sank one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds to go to end the first-quarter scoring.
Wa-Hi extended its lead to 10-0 just 1:04 into the second quarter and equalled the 10-point spread, 12-2, on a Libbie Jimenez jumper with 6:06 remaining.
Moses Lake did not collect its first field goal until the 5:36 mark of period two when Emily Olson nailed a right-corner 3-pointer that cut the Blue Devils' lead to five, 12-7.
Olson's trey was one of just two Chiefs field goals in the opening half on 21 shots.
But Moses Lake, due to a 12-4 disparity in fouls, kept the game close by going 9-of-14 from the free throw line.
Wa-Hi led by a deuce, 16-14, at halftime.
"The girls were being so aggressive," Meliah said. "We gave up easy passes into the middle and had to foul. We had success with our pressure in the first quarter and got greedy."
The first 4:37 of the third quarter was highlighted by a pair of ties and six lead changes. The final switch occurred when Torri Crawford cashed in a transition opportunity with 3:23 left in the third quarter to give Wa-Hi a 24-23 edge - a lead it extended to three, 28-25, by the end of the period.
Jimenez buried a 3 from the left wing with 6:41 left in regulation to double the Blue Devils' lead to six, 31-25.
But the Chiefs crawled to within three, 33-30, on a low-block bucket by Sadie Nielsen with 5:28 on the clock.
Wa-Hi responded with a game-clinching, 6-0 run that started with an Allie Greene follow with 3:57 to go and ended on a Greene layin at the 1:15 mark. MiKayla Ferenz sandwiched a drive with 3:14 left between Greene's baskets.
Jimenez led Wa-Hi with nine points. Greene and Molitor were next with six points apiece.
"Libbie and Allie both came off the bench and gave us a huge spark in the second half," Meliah said. "When we executed, we scored or at least got decent shots."
Wa-Hi plays at Richland on Tuesday.
Wa-Hi 42, Moses Lake 36
MOSES LAKE (36) - Kunjara 1-5 1-2 4, Garcia 3-7 3-4 12, Bishop 0-1 0-0 0, Koon 0-1 0-0 0, Olson 3-12 1-3 8, Wilks 1-3 0-0 2, LeFave 0-1 1-2 1, K. Nielson Stevens 0-2 2-2 2, Nielsen 3-8 1-2 7. Totals 11-40 9-15 36.
WA-HI (42) - Greene 3-5 0-1 6, Crawford 2-13 0-0 4, Doepker 0-3 1-2 1, Molitor 2-4 2-2 6, M. Ferenz 1-9 3-4 5, Hodnefield 0-2 0-0 0, Jimenez 3-6 2-3 9, Sirmon 2-6 0-0 4, K. Ferenz 1-2 0-0 2, Hamada 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 16-55 8-12 42.
Moses Lake 0 14 11 11 - 36
Wa-Hi 8 8 12 14 - 42
3-point goals - Moses Lake 5-12 (Garcia 3-4, Kunjara 1-2, Olson 1-5, Wilks 0-1), Wa-Hi 2-6 (Jimenez 1-1, Hamada 1-2, Hodnefield 0-1, M. Ferenz 0-2). Total fouls - Moses Lake 13, Wa-Hi 15. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Moses Lake 39 (Olson 7), Wa-Hi 39 (Crawford 7). Turnovers - Moses Lake 17, Wa-Hi 10. Assists - Moses Lake 7 (Garcia 2, LeFave 2), Wa-Hi 7 (Greene 2, M. Ferenz 2).