WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi hung with third-ranked Gonzaga Prep through a quarter and a half Friday night at the Blue Devil gymnasium, but the Bullpups proved too physical, deep and athletic as they ran past Walla Walla, 60-38, in a loser-out regional contest.
Wa-Hi led by as much as 12-6 in the early goings, and the teams were nearly even halfway through the second quarter, but Prep went on a 17-1 run that stretched into the second half and gave the Bullpups an insurmountable 36-21 lead.
“They’re extrememly physical,” Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said of the Bullpups. “I worried that we would have trouble with that, and I thought that in the first half, for the most part, we handled that. I think we got a little tired and then just weren’t as strong as we needed to be and kind of played into how they like to play.”
And as Wa-Hi wore down, the Blue Devils switched into a zone defense to limit Prep’s ability to drive to the net.
The Bullpups responded by hitting 7-of-10 3-pointers after the first quarter, 7-of-14 for the night.
“They’re (Gonzaga Prep) a good shooting team,” Meliah said. “We scouted and thought we knew who their shooters were, and then other kids stepped up and hit 3s.
“We sat in a zone and gave up too many 3s, then we go man and we give up some offensive boards or they go by us,” Meliah said. “It’s just a tough matchup for us. We tried to take advantage of our size, but when we can’t deal with their physicalness, it’s hard.”
The Blue Devils, who were ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll, end the season at 19-5 and will lose seniors Torri Crawford and Allie Greene to graduation.
“They have every right to hold their head high right now, and every right to be extremely proud of this season,” Meliah said. “Nineteen-and-five is one heck of a record and it’s definitely something to be proud of.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to play a team that’s ranked third in state (in regionals),” Meliah said. “And that’s just the way it is on the eastern side, you’ve got to fight through the best to get to state.”
The Bullpups got three players into double figures in the victory.
Laura Stockton, daughter of famed Gonzaga alum and professional basketball player John Stockton, led Prep with 17 points on the night. She hit 6-of-15 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line. Hannah Caudill added 15 points and Kayla Leland came off the bench to score 11.
Wa-Hi held post Otiona Gildon to just seven points on the night, but the 6-footer led the Bullpups with 14 rebounds on the night.
As a team Gonzaga Prep outrebounded Wa-Hi 42-33 and pickpocketed the Blue Devils 12 times to just six steals from Wa-Hi. Wa-Hi turned the ball over 16 times, Prep 12.
Battling for open looks the whole night, Wa-Hi shot just 27.6 percent from the field.
Maddy Sirmon led the Blue Devils with 10 points. Crawford and Mikayla Ferenz each had eight.
The Blue Devils hit just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.
After falling behind 36-21 with 6:17 to go in the third, the Blue Devils began to rally.
Mikayla Ferenz keyed a 9-3 spurt with a 3, Wa-Hi’s only one of the night, and a pair of free throws. Kiana Molitor and Kate Ferenz each added baskets as the Blue Devils pulled to within nine, 39-30, with 3:44 left in the third, but Wa-Hi would get no closer.
Gonzaga Prep took over from there, scoring 11 straight points to take a 50-30 lead with 6:40 left in the contest and cruising to a 60-38 victory from there.
With the win Gonzaga Prep moves on to face Chiawana Saturday in Pasco at 7 p.m. in a battle for the region’s second seed to state.
“... Moving forward, I told the girls we need to use this (loss) for fuel,” Meliah said. “Think about how this feels. And whenever they don’t want to go shoot or go run in the spring or summer, when they don’t feel like putting time in the gym, remember this feeling, because this is what is going to fuel us and make us better next year.”
GONZAGA PREP 60, WALLA WALLA 38
GONZAGA PREP (60) — Harrington 1-5 2-2 4, Hoffman 1-3 1-2 3, Cozza 0-0 0-0 0, Stockton 6-15 5-8 17, Weir 0-0 0-0 0, Leland 4-10 0-0 15, Caudill 6-9 0-0 15, Gildon 3-9 1-3 7, Gregory 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 22-56 9-15 60.
WALLA WALLA (38) — Hodnefield 0-1 0-0 0, Greene 0-1 0-0 0, Crawford 2-10 4-4 8, Molitor 1-1 0-0 2, M. Ferenz 2-10 3-4 8, Sirmon 5-12 0-0 10, Doepker 1-8 4-6 6, K. Ferenz 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 13-47 11-14 38.
GP 12 20 15 13 — 60
WW 12 9 9 8 — 38
3-point goals — GP 7-14 (Leland 3, Caudill 3, Gregory), WW 1 (Ferenz). Total fouls — GP 15, WW 13. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounding — GP 42 (Gildon 14), WW 33 (Sirmon 6, Doepker 6). Turnovers — GP 12, WW 16. Assists — GP 12 (Caudill 5), WW 6 (Ferenz 6).