Warriors make statement in win over Big Bend

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WALLA WALLA — Bobbie Hazeltine knew for darn sure that she didn’t want her team playing in the 8 a.m. breakfast lid-lifter in a couple of weeks when the NWAACC Championships tips off at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

But more than that by far, Hazeltine didn’t want to enter the tournament having lost twice to Eastern Region rival Big Bend, a team that came into Saturday night’s game in the Dietrich Dome still struggling to qualify for the women’s basketball championships.

“This was a statement game for us,” Hazeltine said after guiding the Warriors to a 61-32 victory over the Vikings that not only assured WWCC of avoiding the early, early game March 2 in Kennewick — as the No. 1 seed they’ll draw the 6 p.m. game — but a win that clinched the East Division title as well.

“This team (Big Bend) beat us by two points (50-48) the first time we played them in Moses Lake (Jan. 26),” the Warriors coach added. “We were looking for revenge. This game was all about avenging that loss that we didn’t think should have happened.

“I have had this game circled in red on my calendar ever since that first game.”

So Hazeltine was hyped. Her players were hyped. And the defense the Warriors threw at a Vikings team Hazeltine described as “the best shooting team in the East Region” was nothing short of hyper.

Big Bend finished the night shooting 12-of-70 from the floor, a chilly 17 percent, and the Vikings’ 1-for-18 effort from beyond the 3-point line was an icy 5.6 percent. Big Bend even had trouble at the free-throw line, sinking 7-of-17 shots for 41 percent.

“I am so proud of my girls,” Hazeltine said. “We are not a pressure defense, we’re not that quick, but we are very smart. And we came up with a game plan and the girls executed it. They were so focused.”

Sophomore Michelle Seitz, who just happened to lead the Warriors in scoring with 19 points and in rebounding with 11 boards, also keyed WWCC’s man-to-man defense against Big Bend’s constantly penetrating dribble-drive offensive attack.

Seitz drew 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Alli Winters of St. John-Endicott as her defensive assignment. Winters finished the night 2-for-12 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point distance for five points.

“She is the leading 3-point shooter in the region,” Hazeltine said of Winters. “But Michelle showed why she is the region’s defensive player of the year.”

Warriors’ sophomore Allie Kelsey was assigned to Big Bend’s other 3-point shooting artist, 5-6 sophomore Hannah Smith, and she responded as well. Smith was blanked on all fronts: 0-for-9 from the field, 0-for-4 from the 3-point arc and 0-for-4 from the free-throw line.

But Winters and Smith weren’t the only Vikings to struggle against WWCC’s scrappy defense.

Shaylyn Brown was 0-for-8 from the field and finished the night with three points, all on free throws; Jazlyn Nielson was 0-for-5 and scoreless; Jessica Sorensen scored five points on 1-for-6 shooting from the floor and three free throws; and Cristina Marlatt was 2-for-13 overall, 0-6 from 3-point distance and tallied four points.

Sierra Zollinger led the Vikings with nine points on 4-for-10 field-goal shooting and one free throw in two attempts.

In addition to Seitz’s 19 points, three other Warriors scored in double figures. Caitlin Duncan tallied 12 points and Kelsey and post Hailey Felgenhauer added 10 points apiece.

Brooke Hawkins had seven rebounds and a game-high seven assists, Felgenhauer contributed seven boards and Setiz chipped in with six assists.

The victory hiked WWCC’s division record to 11-2 and its season mark to 22-3. Big Bend slid to 6-7 and 16-11.

Meanwhile, second-place Columbia Basin suffered a 70-59 home loss to Spokane Saturday night that dropped the Hawks to 9-4 and 13-12. With just Wednesday’s game at Blue Mountain remaining on the Warriors’ regular-season schedule, the division title belongs to Walla Walla.

WALLLA WALLA 61, BIG BEND 3

BIG BEND (32) — Winters 2-12 0-0 5, Zollinger 4-10 1-2 9, Brown 0-8 3-4 3, Hemmert 2-4 0-0 4, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 1-3 0-0 2, Sorensen 1-6 3-5 5, Marlatt 2-13 0-2 4, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-9 0-4 0, Nielson 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 12-70 7-17 32.

WALLA WALLA (61) — Seitz 7-19 2-4 19, Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0, Hawkins 2-6 0-1 4, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Giardina 0-0 0-0 0, DeLong 0-2 0-0 0, Duncan 5-10 2-2 12, Rad 1-4 2-2 4, Felgenhauer 4-12 2-2 10, Kelsey 4-7 0-0 10, Siler 0-0 0-0 0, Stefanski 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-62 8-11 61.

Halftime — WWCC 35, Big Bend 22. 3-point goals — Big Bend 1-18 (Winters 1-5, Hemmert 0-2, Hall 0-1, Marlatt 0-6, Smith 0-4), WWCC 5-13 (Seitz 3-7, Duncan 0-1, Felgenhauer 0-1, Kelsey 2-4). Total fouls — WWCC 14, Big Bend 13. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — WWCC 47 (Seitz 15), Big Bend 35 (Sorensen 11). Turnovers — WWCC 20, Big Bend 18. Assists — WWCC 16 (Hawkins 7), Big Bend 2 (Winters 1, Sorensen 1).

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