WALLA WALLA — Four Blue Devil players reached double figures as the Walla Walla High School boys basketball team downed Pendleton at home, 64-54, on Tuesday.
The Buckaroos closed the gap during the fourth quarter, as Pendleton used a 9-0 run to cut the Blue Devil lead to 56-47. But clutch free-throw shooting and sound passes down the stretch proved to be the difference for Wa-Hi.
After blowing a nine-point halftime lead and losing to Moses Lake last Saturday, Wa-Hi head coach John Golden was pleased with his team’s performance for the majority of the second half.
“We were able to stretch the lead and that’s what we wanted to do after halftime,” Golden said. “I thought for a quarter-and-a-half there in the second half, we did a nice job of extending the lead, taking what they gave us and getting defensive stops.”
The Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run during the third quarter, which pushed their second half lead to 18. Guard Eric Klicker dished out back-to-back assists before connecting on a 3-pointer during the 10-0 swing.
Klicker finished with 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting and four assists in the game.
With Klicker and fellow guard Andrew Gogl, who finished 2-for-2 from downtown, the Blue Devils’ ability to space the floor was a major factor, Golden said.
“With our execution, I thought we moved the ball well and got good looks,” he said. “Eric shot the ball well. Gogl came in and hit a couple for us off the bench. We’ve got guys that can hit the shots and take advantage of what they do defensively. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
Gogl and Klicker’s ability to shoot from the perimeter also opened up driving lanes, point guard Dylan Steele said.
“I got great shooters on the team, it makes my job a whole lot easier,” Steele said. “I just have to penetrate and look to kick. I missed them a couple times today, that was my fault. But I’ll make sure to look at them next time.”
Steele also praised post Ross Lake, who led the Blue Devils with 13 points and nine rebounds. Golden called Tuesday’s tilt one of Lake’s “better games” and credited him for being more aggressive on offense.
Steele said Lake’s length made it easy for the perimeter players to get the ball down low.
“He’s so long we can throw that ball up high for him,” Steele said. “It’s easy to get the ball to him. Especially when he’s got a smaller defender on him because he’s so long.”
Pendleton’s full-court press defense made it tricky for the Blue Devils to advance the ball from the opening tip, but Golden said the Blue Devils adjusted accordingly. By slowing the ball up and setting up its offense, Wa-Hi was able to find Lake down low and spread the floor for its shooters, Golden said.
“The first three teams we played, we saw press,” Golden said. “It wasn’t anything new or surprising to us, but I like how we’re starting to execute that press offense a little better. That helped a lot — got us down into our offense and we got set up.”
Two other Blue Devil starters reached double figures, as Steele racked up 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with four assists. Senior Gabe Porter also notched 11 points and a team-high five assists.
Pendleton’s Joel Boozer led the Bucks with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Both the Blue Devils and Bucks shot the ball well, as Wa-Hi shot 51 percent in the game, compared to nearly 49 percent for Pendleton.
But it was the Blue Devils’ 3-point marksmanship that proved to be the difference, as Wa-Hi connected on six of the 20 3-pointers they attempted.
Pendleton, on the other hand, was only 2-of-6 from downtown.
The Blue Devils have nine days off until their next game, when they travel to Chiawana on Dec. 20.
Wa-Hi 64, Pendleton 54
WALLA WALLA (64) — Andrew Gogl 2-2 0-0 6. Steele 4-8 1-2 10. Klicker 3-9 2-2 11. Porter 4-9 3-3 11. Barker 0-0 0-0 0. Lake 5-8 3-5 13. Harvey 1-3 0-0 2. Handcox 2-3 1-2 5. Sumerlin 2-3 0-0 4. Giles 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-47 10-14 64.
PENDLETON (54) — Green 0-0 0-0 0. Polhamus 0-0 0-0 0. Quinn 0-2 0-0 0. Robinson 5-10 3-3 13. Persinger 0-0 0-0 0. Anderson 1-7 1-4 3. Boozer 8-12 0-0 16. Smith 6-13 0-0 14. Bradt 3-4 2-4 8. Totals 23-47 6-11 54.
Pendleton 9 15 12 18 — 54
Wa-Hi 16 20 16 12 — 64
3-point goals — Pen 2 (Smith 2), Wa-Hi 6 (Klicker 3). Total fouls — Pen 20, Wa-Hi 12. Fouled out — Pen (Robinson). Technical fouls — Pen (bench). Total rebounds — Pen 26 (Bradt 7), Wa-Hi 27 (Lake 9). Turnovers — Pen 16, Wa-Hi 13. Assists — Pen 8 (Smith 3), Wa-Hi 17 (Porter 5).