KENNEWICK - Walla Walla knew that it couldn't get off to another poor shooting performance here Sunday morning at the Toyota Center.
Not against a Shoreline team that scored on average 103 points a game during the regular season but also yielded 100-plus points each game.
Jay Payne, the Warriors' 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, made sure they didn't as he nailed five of his first six shots, all of them 3-pointers, and propelled his team to 14-point leads of 29-15 and 33-19 in the first eight minutes of the game. As a team, WWCC sank 14 of its first 18 shots from the floor.
That was in stark contrast to Walla Walla's stumbling start 24 hours earlier when the Warriors misfired on 15 of their first 20 shots, fell behind Tacoma 30-11 and ultimately lost to the Titans 80-73 in the first round of the NWAACC Championships men's basketball tournament.
Unfortunately for the Warriors and Jeff Reinland, their beleaguered head coach, Sunday's fast start wasn't quite enough. The high-scoring Dolphins caught the Warriors at 44-44, assumed a 55-49 halftime lead and survived a rough-and-tumble second half for a 96-94 victory that sent Walla Walla home winless for the second straight year.
Devastated was the word Reinland used to describe his emotions in the moments following a defeat in which his team narrowly missed on a final-second miracle play that would have sent the game into overtime.
"We were 9-for-20 from the foul line. We were 9-for-35 on 3-pointers. And we let so many rebounds just slip through our hands," Reinland said. "And just about every one of those lost rebounds on the defensive end turned into a layup for them."
Still, with 34 seconds remaining the game was deadlocked at 94-94 after Mac Stannard sank a pair of free throws. After a timeout, the Dolphins played for a last shot.
Avery Scharer, a 6-2 sophomore guard who had assisted on 12 Shoreline baskets but was just 2-for-12 from the floor himself, got the call. Scharer dribbled to the left and kissed a spinning 12-foot fadeway jumper off the glass for the game-winning basket.
"That was a lucky shot," Reinland said. "I don't believe he intended to bank that shot."
There was two-tenths of a second on the clock when Reinland burned his final timeout. That wasn't enough time to catch and shoot. The Warriors' only hope was a tip shot, and that's the play Reinland drew up.
But when the players returned to the floor, a full half second had been restored. Enough time to catch the ball and still get off a shot.
"It was too late to change the play," Reinland said. "I had used my last timeout. Besides, I'm not sure I would have changed anything anyway."
As it turned out, Dylan Radliff's long baseball pass from the far end of the court was perfectly placed. Michael Crane, a 6-3 sophomore, was positioned just to the right of the basket and barely missed as he tipped the ball toward the rim. Had Crane caught the long pass instead, he still would have had time to attempt a shot.
"It was close," Reinland said. "But I'm more concerned with some of the other things, like the missed free throws and the missed 3-pointers, and all the bobbles.
"It's been like pulling teeth all this year for us to get the ball to go through the bucket. It's the story of our season. We have shot the ball poorly all year."
Even after the torrid opening eight minutes, Walla Walla was 38-for-91 (42 percent) from the field overall, exactly what the Warriors shot over the course of the regular season.
Payne and sophomore post Dallen Bills, who was 10-for-13 from the field, scored 22 points each to lead the WWCC offense. Crane was 8-for-11 shooting and added 16 points.
But it was a different story for WWCC's two leading scorers on the season. Sophomore Mac Stannard was 3-for-13 shooting and scored just nine points while Radliff, a freshman, went 4-for-17 from the field, 2-for-11 from 3-point distance and contributed 11 points.
Joe Bodman was a force for Shoreline with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Four other Shoreline players finished in double figures.
The Dolphins won the rebounding battle 61-56, although the Warriors' Crane led all rebounders with 18.
In addition to Stannard, Bills, Payne and Crane, Colton Arias played his final game in a WWCC uniform Sunday. Arias, a Wa-Hi product, scored one point and grabbed two rebounds in his final game.
Walla Walla finished with a 19-10 overall record in Reinland's 19th season as head coach. Shoreline improved to 18-11 and advanced to today's consolation semifinals.
Shoreline 96, Walla Walla 94
SHORELINE (96) - Artez Scharer 0-0 0-0 0, Dixon 3-15 3-4 11, Lupfer 2-5 3-4 8, Bodman 11-17 1-2 23, Donaldson 6-9 0-0 12, Osborne-Campbell 1-2 2-4 4, Avery Scharer 3-12 3-4 10, Hong 1-2 0-0 3, Edwards 1-3 2-3 5, McKaula 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 1-1 0-0 2, Acromite 5-11 0-4 10, Fiawoo 0-0 0-0 0, Demario 0-0 0-0 0, George 3-10 2-2 8. Totals 37-88 16-27 96.
WALLA WALLA (94) - Crane 8-11 0-0 16, Radliff 4-17 1-2 11, Payne 7-17 6-14 22, Stannard 3-13 2-4 9, Bravard 1-2 0-0 2, Bills 10-13 2-6 22, Hahn 4-13 1-4 9, Arias 0-3 1-2 1, Hight 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 38-91 9-20 94.
Halftime - Shoreline 55, WWCC 49. 3-point goals - Shoreline 6-20 (Dixon 2-6, Lupfer 1-2, Donaldson 0-1, Osborne-Campbell 0-1, Avery Scharer 1-2, Hong 1-2, Edwards 1-2, Acromite 0-1, George 0-3), WWCC 9-35 (Radliff 2-11, Payne 6-14, Stannard 1-5, Bravard 0-1, Hahn 0-2, Arias 0-2). Total fouls - Shoreline 19, WWCC 18. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - WWCC (Payne). Rebounds - Shoreline 61 (Bodman 13), WWCC 56 (Crane 18). Turnovers - Shoreline 16, WWCC 10. Assists - Shoreline 26 (Avery Scharer 12), WWCC 22 (Radliff 8).
Men's NWAACC Championships
At Toyota Center
Peninsula 74, Clackamas 65
Spokane 76, South Puget Sound 71
Yakima 97, Clark 84 (OT)
Chemeketa 94, Bellevue 84
Tacoma 80, Walla Walla 73
Mount Hood 100, Shoreline 93
Southwest Oregon 75, Whatcom 71
Big Bend 78, Lower Columbia 71
Peninsula 96, Spokane 91 (OT)
Chemeketa 86, Yakima 75
Tacoma 59, Mount Hood 46
Big Bend 90, Southwest Oregon 82
Clackamas 70, South Puget Sound 67 (loser out)
Bellevue 74, Clark 71 (loser out)
Shoreline 96, Walla Walla 94 (loser out)
Lower Columbia 66, Whatcom 61 (loser out)
Tacoma (24-5) vs. Big Bend (23-4), 6 p.m.
Peninsula (25-4) vs. Chemeketa (21-7), 8 p.m.
Clackamas (17-11) vs. Bellevue (22-6), 10 a.m. (loser out)
Shoreline (17-12) vs. Lower Columbia (16-12), noon (loser out)
Clark (26-3) vs. Spokane (24-5), 2 p.m. (loser out)
Mount Hood (22-8) vs. Southwest Oregon (17-13), 4 p.m. (loser out)
Seventh-place game, 10 a.m.
Fifth-place game, noon
Third-place game, 2 p.m.
Championship game, 8 p.m.