WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi dominated the boards and played stifling transition defense en route to a 55-38 victory over the Lewiston Bengals Tuesday in a non-league boys basketball game.
The Blue Devils (1-0) struggled with first-game yips early and trailed 11-10 going into the second quarter, but were able to limit the Bengals to just 14 points in the second and third quarters while building a decisive 21-point lead heading into the final bracket.
“I thought we really, the third quarter, defended,” Wa-Hi coach John Golden said. “That was what I was pleased with probably the most... We were able to stretch the lead.”
Tanner Cranor led the Blue Devils in scoring with 13 points on 4-of-13 field goals and a 5-for-7 effort at the free throw line. Cranor (a 6-foot-8 senior post) and Colin Hogan (a 6-3 post) tied with five rebounds each.
The Blue Devils outrebounded Lewiston 40-to-31, including 20 offensive rebounds.
“We hit the boards pretty hard, and we should; we’re a pretty tall, long team,” Golden said. “I thought we gave up a few too many offensive boards, but overall we got after it on the boards and that’s one area that I think we’re going to need to take an advantage of our height and positioning.”
Wa-Hi held the Bengals to 24.3 percent shooting, while making 37.2 percent of their own attempts.
“They didn’t shoot it particularly well and I think some of that had to do with us getting pressure on them,” Golden said. “But we let (Rafa Hewett-Steiger) get a few looks, especially in the fourth quarter there. But overall I was pleased defensively.”
Hewett-Steiger led all scorers with 20 points, making three-of-four 3-pointers and draining four of his five free throws.
Wa-Hi harried the Bengals into 20 turnovers and made nine steals as a team. Spencer Locati pick-pocketed the ball three times on his own.
“The effort was there, and we have to shore some things up offensively, but overall it was a good effort,” Golden said.
Hewett-Steiger made a lay-in and sunk a free throw to give the Bengals their largest lead of the night at 16-10 with 5:35 left in the first half, but the Blue Devils rallied for a 16-2 run to close the half.
Locati, who finished with eight points, sunk a 3 at the top of the key to start the scoring. Cranor made a pair of free throws and blocked a Beau Boyer shot on the ensuing Bengal possession to set up a third-chance Colin Hogan lay-in on the other end.
Cranor hit the front end of a one-and-one and Locati sank another 3 to put Wa-Hi up 21-16 with 1:47 left in the half.
Hewett-Steiger two free throws but Paul Gilmore and Gabe Porter combined for five more points to end the half with a 26-18 Wa-Hi lead.
“I thought we had some great minutes off the bench,” Golden said. “Parker (Toon) came in and gave us a spurt, especially in that third quarter. Paul Gilmore and Colin (Hogan) both came in and gave us some energy in the post.”
The game was decided in the third when Lewiston was limited to just two field goals and three points off free throws, while the Blue Devils opened a 45-25 lead as the quarter ended.
Lewiston’s 6-5 big Boyer picked up his third foul in the opening minutes of the second half, and Cranor et al. wreaked havoc in his absence.
Eric Klicker hit a triple to open the half followed by a spot-up jumper from Porter and a fast-break slam dunk from Cranor as Wa-Hi pushed its margin to 33-20.
Following a Hewett-Steiger bucket, Cranor added two more free throws and Klicker hit another trey before Locati took over with four more points off two trips to the charity stripe and a jumper. Toon scored the last Blue Devil points of the quarter off a field goal and a free throw.
Lewiston outscored the Blue Devils 13-10 in the final quarter but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome a 49-25 Wa-Hi margin with 6:31 left in the game.
The Blue Devils shot 37 percent from beyond the arc as a team in securing the win.
“We rushed a couple (3s), we took a couple that we probably could have made another pass on, but overall, getting our feet wet, first time out here, that was a positive,” Golden said of his team’s shooting. “We need those guys to hit those shots and feel confident that they can hit it.”
Wa-Hi visits the defending state champions Davis Friday at 7 p.m. in their first meeting as non-conference foes since the formation of the Mid-Columbia Conference.
“It doesn’t get any easier — we go to Davis Friday — but our guys were pretty resilient,” Golden said, “they didn’t get down on themselves, so it was a good first start.”
LEWISTON (38) — Charlo 0-1 0-0 0, Hasenoerhl 1-7 4-5 6, Rayner 0-5 0-1 1, Jackson 0-2 4-6 4, Dickeson 1-1 0-0 2, Hewett-Steiger 6-15 4-5 20, Melton 0-1 0-0 0, Brooks 0-3 1-2 1, Boyer 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 10-41 14-23 38.
WA-HI (55) — Toon 0-3 1-2 1, Klicker 3-6 0-0 9, Porter 2-7 2-5 7, Locati 3-5 0-0 8, Thonney 2-3 0-0 4, Eggart 0-2 0-0 0, Hogan 2-6 2-2 6, Knillman 0-0 0-0 0, Arias 0-2 0-0 0, Gilmore 2-2 0-0 4, Cranor 4-13 5-7 13, Warriner 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 19-51 11-17 55.
Lewiston 11 7 7 13 — 38
Wa-Hi 10 16 19 10 — 55
3-point goals — Lew 4-14 (Hasenoerhl 0-1, Charlo 0-1, Hewett-Steiger 4-10, Brooks 0-2); Wa-Hi 6-16 (Toon 0-2, Klicker 3-6, Porter 1-3, Locati 2-4, Arias 0-1). Total fouls — Lew 16, Wa-Hi 17. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Lew 31 (Hasenoerhl 6), Wa-Hi (Cranor 5, Hogan 5). Turnovers — Lew 20, Wa-Hi 18. Assists — Lew 2 (Jackson), Wa-Hi 10 (Klicker 3).