KENNEWICK - Guard Janae Klarich registered two baskets in the final minute of overtime - a layin with 54 seconds remaining and a left-wing jumper with seven seconds on the clock - that lifted Walla Walla Community College to a 72-68 victory over Skagit Valley in the quarterfinals of the NWAACC Championships women's basketball tournament here Sunday night at the Toyota Center.
Teammate Sienna Edmunson sent the game into extra time on a driving layup with 2.3 seconds remaining that knotted the score at 61-all.
The win earned the Warriors, now 22-6, a berth in tonight's semifinal round, where they will face defending NWAACC champion and Eastern Region rival Yakima Valley (22-7) at 8 p.m.
Walla Walla and YVC met in the tournament championship game the past two seasons. Walla Walla knocked off Yakima, 75-72, in the 2010 final and YVC claimed a 53-40 triumph last year.
The Warriors used an 11-0 run on Sunday to take a 13-2 lead after almost seven minutes of first-half play. Klarich keyed the surge with four points and post Tai Jensen ended it with a layin at the 13:03 mark.
Skagit Valley responded with a 9-2 spurt before WWCC retaliated with a 9-3 blitz to take a 24-14 lead. Hailey Felgenhauer sank a pair of free throws with 3:49 left to establish the 10-point spread.
The Cardinals ended the half with a 10-0 blitz to pull into a 24-24 tie at halftime. Laken McClelland manufactured half of the points by beginning the run with a layin with 3:35 to go and closing it on a 3-point basket with 1:27 left.
"We started out well, then their shooters got hot," WWCC coach Bobbi Hazeltine said.
Walla Walla managed just one field goal over the final 13 minutes of the half - an Alex Pfefferle 3 at the 7:39 mark. But a 10-for-10 showing from the free throw line kept the Warriors in the game.
Five lead changes and an equal number of ties highlighted the second half. The final lead change of half two occurred when Skagit's Sophie Baetz drained a 3 with 4:03 remaining to give the Cardinals a 56-54 lead.
The margin grew to five, 59-54, on a Jessica Denmon trey with 2:16 to go.
Walla Walla's Leslie Stillar, who scored a team-high 19 points, knocked down a left-corner 3 with 1:53 on the clock to make it a two-point game, 59-57.
After two Cardinal free throws, Edmunson made it 61-59 on a layup with 40 seconds left.
Skagit Valley came up empty on its next possession, and the stage was set for Edmunson's effort that forced overtime.
"My goal was to take it to the hole," Edmunson said. "We've practiced last-second plays in case (they happen)."
"That was a set play to Sienna," Hazeltine said. "We work on our last-second stuff all the time."
Following an exchange of 3's - one by McClelland and one by Stillar - to commence period three, Walla Walla took a four-point lead, 68-64, after two Felgenhauer freebies with three minutes on the clock and a Klarich putback at the 2:10 mark.
The Cardinals scored the next four points prior to Klarich's heroics.
"We look for each other a lot," Klarich said. "We play team basketball. That's who we are. That's who we've always been. I knew if we stuck it out, it would go our way."
"We had a lot of adrenaline after we came back," Edmunson said. "It gave us the energy in overtime that we needed.
"We weren't expecting (the game) to be that intense," Edmunson said. "That was the most intense game we've had all year."
"There was no point where any of us were in a panic," Stillar said. "We were composed. That's how (Hazeltine) has coached us.
"That was huge," Stillar said of Klarich's overtime jumper. "She got the open shot. I knew she was going to take it."
Pfefferle contributed 13 points for the Warriors, Klarich had 12, and Edmunson put up 10 points.
Walla Walla outrebounded Skagit Valley, 58-43. Edmunson and Jensen grabbed nine boards apiece.
"A lot of people hit big shots," Pfefferle said. "We played team ball. We don't think of one person. We get it to whoever is on."
Now the focus shifts to tonight's semifinal, which will be the fourth meeting of the year between Walla Walla and Yakima Valley.
"It's a big game," Stillar said. "We're excited for it. It will take heart and soul to get back in that (tournament) final."
WWCC 72, Skagit Valley 68
WALLA WALLA (72) - Seitz 1-5 0-0 2, Klarich 6-11 0-0 12, Hawkins 0-0 0-0 0, Stillar 7-21 0-0 19, Pfefferle 4-11 2-2 13, Humphries 0-0 0-0 0, Felgenhauer 0-6 9-10 9, Edmunson 5-10 0-0 10, McDonald 0-0 0-0 0, Jensen 2-10 3-4 7. Totals 25-74 14-16 72.
SKAGIT VALLEY (68) - Espinoza 1-2 0-0 3, Denmon 8-15 0-1 20, Gray 3-16 6-8 13, Wilson 1-5 0-0 3, Baetz 2-10 2-2 7, Johnson 0-2 2-2 2, McClelland 6-16 6-7 20. Totals 21-66 16-20 68.
Halftime - WWCC 24, Skagit Valley 24. End of regulation - WWCC 61, Skagit Valley 61.
3-point goals - WWCC 8-26 (Stillar 5-15, Pfefferle 3-7, Seitz 0-1, Felgenhauer 0-1, Klarich 0-2), Skagit Valley 10-24 (Denmon 4-7, McClelland 2-5, Espinoza 1-2, Gray 1-2, Wilson 1-3, Baetz 1-5). Total fouls-WWCC 14, Skagit Valley 15. Fouled out- none. Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- WWCC 58 (Edmunson 9, Jensen 9), Skagit Valley 43 (Denmon 12). Turnovers-WWCC 10, Skagit Valley 8. Assists- WWCC 14 (Edmunson 6), Skagit Valley 8 (Gray 3).
Women's NWAACC Championships
At Toyota Center
Yakima 80, Clark 70
Lane 88, Peninsula 71
Skagit Valley 94, Umpqua 74
Walla Walla 61, Pierce 46
Clackamas 74, Bellevue 65
Tacoma 63, Bellevue 65
Columbia Basin 75, Tacoma 63
Blue Mountain 72, Centralia 56
Chemeketa 58, Whatcom 41
Yakima 75, Lane 57
Walla Walla 72, Skagit Valley 68 (OT)
Columbia Basin 64, Clackamas 55
Chemeketa 70, Blue Mountain 51
Clark 78, Peninsula 46 (loser out)
Umpqua 73, Pierce 58 (loser out)
Bellevue 74, Tacoma 55 (loser out)
Centralia 55, Whatcom 52 (loser out).
Chemeketa (21-6) vs. Columbia Basin (27-2), 6 p.m.
Yakima (22-7) vs. Walla Walla (22-6), 8 p.m.
Clark (21-7) vs. Umpqua (15-14), 10 a.m. (loser out)
Bellevue (23-6) vs. Centralia (20-9), noon (loser out)
Lane (24-5) vs. Skagit Valley (21-6), 2 p.m. (loser out)
Clackamas (23-5) vs. Blue Mountain (17-10), 4 p.m. (loser out)
Seventh-place game, 10 a.m.
Sixth-place game, noon
Third-place game, 2 p.m.
Championship game, 5:30 p.m.