WAITSBURG — The Waitsburg-Prescott boys basketball team’s four-guard set stifled McLoughlin High School, as W-P rolled to a 59-39 victory on Tuesday.
W-P knocked down 22 of the 48 shots it put up, as Waitsburg-Prescott’s crisp ball movement created space for cutters and open looks for shooters.
After dropping two close games during the final minutes last weekend, W-P head coach Tavis Crittenden was pleased with his team’s execution down the stretch.
“We’re just trying to look for a lane — that’s our main thing,” Crittenden said. “We’re trying to work for an easy shot. Our cuts are basically set up to get an easy shot. A lot of that is on their own, a lot of natural movement.”
W-P outscored Mac-Hi 30-15 in the second half, as only one Pioneer player reached double figures.
Mac-Hi head coach Travis Chester said the Pioneers simply did not share the ball well enough and must learn how to play as a team moving forward.
Jake Podolski led the Pioneers with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, as he finished 7-of-11 from the floor.
“They were kind of trying to break everything down on their own,” Chester said. “It wasn’t a great team effort. Jake kind of took it over and kept us in it early, but you can’t rely on one kid for the whole game. Especially with as many athletes as they have.”
Waitsburg-Prescott, on the other hand, shared the ball throughout the night. W-P finished the game with 13 assists, compared to only four for the Pioneers.
W-P’s balance was evident as Waitsburg-Prescott had six players finish with six points or more.
Owen Lanning finished with a team-high 16 points, four assists and seven rebounds for W-P.
Both Tyler Dodd and Devin Acevedo also chipped in eight points apiece.
Crittenden implored his team to move the ball quickly around the perimeter in order to keep the defense shifting. The team’s philosophy was evident in the second half, as W-P collected more than half of its assists after the break.
Crittenden called it the best second half his team has played this season.
“We’ve done it practice for weeks, but lately the kids have been holding it too long and it just stops everything and nothing is ever open,” Crittenden said. “Tonight they really did a good job passing the ball and we started having fun and relaxing, which is a big part of it.”
W-P’s defense also restricted Mac-Hi’s starting backcourt from getting many open looks. The Pioneers’ starting duo of Carlos Angel and Hunter Yensen combined to go only 5-of-29 for 11 points, as Chester said W-P’s numerous athletes held his guards in check.
“Normally, Carlos (is) a little more active on the outside,” Chester said. “He struggled a little bit with his shot tonight, but they do a good job of putting pressure up top. They’re really active on the boards and we had a little trouble with them.”
Crittenden said slowing down Angel was the primary focus for the W-P defense.
“Luke and Talen Larsen held Carlos Angel to six points,” Crittenden said. “Those two guys did a phenomenal job and that was our focus because we know how talented he is. He can get hot and get up 30 points in a night if we don’t get on him right away.”
W-P held an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter, but Podolski brought the Pioneers back by the end of the first half. He nailed a 3-pointer, added an and-one and then nailed three free throws after a foul on the perimeter.
The Pioneers’ spree cut the W-P lead to only 29-24 heading into intermission, but Podolski rolled his ankle in the third quarter, which limited his effectiveness in the second half.
W-P came out of halftime and quickly opened a 42-30 lead behind four quick points from freshman Jacob Dunn. Crittenden said W-P needed to eliminate its unforced errors in the second half.
“We just tried to limit our mistakes,” he said. “We had a lot of simple mistakes that weren’t forced. That was our main focus, just cleaning that up and getting to the basket.”
Waitsburg-Prescott hosts Asotin on Friday. The Pioneers face Umatilla on Monday.
Waitsburg-Prescott 59, McLoughlin 39
MAC-HI (39) — Yensen 2-17 1-2 5. Angel 3-12 0-0 6. Podolski 7-12 6-7 22. Alva 0-4 1-2 1. Saldana 0-4 2-4 2. Zitterkopf 0-2 0-0 0. Correa 0-3 0-0 0. Zaragoza 1-1 0-0 3. Total 13-55 10-15 59.
W-P (59) — Lanning 7-14 2-3 16. Alexenko 3-6 0-0 6. Leroue 3-5 0-0 6. Acevedo 2-7 3-4 8. Campbell 2-6 0-0 6. Dodd 2-4 4-4 8. Larsen 0-1 0-0 0. Bartlow 1-1 1-2 3. Dunn 2-4 0-0 4. Pearson 0-0 2-2 2. Total 22-48 12-15 59.
Mac-Hi 10 14 8 7 — 39
W-P 19 10 17 13 — 59
3-point goals — Mac-Hi 3 (Podolski 2), W-P 3 (Campbell 2). Total fouls — Mac-Hi 11, W-P 11. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Total rebounds — Mac-Hi 28 (Podolski 11), W-P 36 (Lanning 7, Acevedo 7, Dodd 7). Turnovers — Mac-Hi 10, W-P 15. Assists — Mac-Hi 4 (Yensen, Angel, Saldana, Zitterkopf), W-P 13 (Lanning 4).