WWCC men earn NWAACC bid with win over Blue Mountain

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PENDLETON — The third time did not prove to be the charm for the Blue Mountain men’s basketball team here Wednesday night.

Visiting Walla Walla made sure of that as the Warriors rolled over the Timberwolves 82-63 and into the NWAACC Championships that begin March 2 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

WWCC, which had defeated Blue Mountain twice earlier in the season, needed Wednesday night’s victory to earn a share of fourth place in the Eastern Region standings and secure the tournament ticket via the division’s tiebreaker format.

Walla Walla, Blue Mountain and Treasure Valley, which closed out the regular season Wednesday with a 75-59 victory over Columbia Basin College in Ontario, Ore., all finished with 7-7 regional records. All three teams are 13-13 overall.

According to WWCC coach Jeff Reinland, who is also the school’s athletic director, the Warriors advance to the tournament based on a 3-1 record against Blue Mountain and Treasure Valley. The Warriors and the Chukars split their regional matchups as did Treasure Valley and Blue Mountain.

“I thought we played really great defense in the first half and pretty good defense most of the second half,” said Reinland, who watched his team build a 36-13 halftime advantage. “I thought we may have let down a little bit in the second half after we got up by 30 points, but it was a great win for the kids.”

Redshirt freshman Case Rada sparked the offense with a 29-point effort highlighted by 10-for-14 shooting from the field overall.

“Case played really well, really smart,” Reinland said of Rada. “He shot the ball well and was able to get to the basket at critical times when we really needed it. When we weren’t hitting so well.”

Austin Nooner had a solid all-around game for the Warriors, contributing 13 points and hauling down 15 rebounds. Eric Harr was a third Warrior in double figures with 11 points and Dylan Radliff and Dallas Reich chipped in nine points each.

“Austin Nooner had a great game — offense, defense and rebounding,” Reinland said. “Eric Harr hit a couple of big baskets when they were trying to make a push at us, and Dallas Reich hit some big baskets for us as well.

“Dylan (Radliff) is still not himself,” Reinland said of the sophomore guard who has been battling flu symptoms for two weeks. “He’s lost about 10 pounds and he is playing at probably 75 percent. We need to get him healthy for the tournament.”

Tyler Adams scored 21 points to pace the Timberwolves. Nate Walker added 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds and Dylan Martin chipped in with 12 points and seven boards,

Reinland said he would give his players today off, practice Friday and then rest over the weekend before beginning tournament preparations on Monday.

“I’m glad the tournament begins next weekend and not this weekend,” the coach said. “We can use the separation to get a little healthier.

“We needed this,” Reinland said of Wednesday’s big win. “The kids had some fun. It’s not always about fun, but you have to enjoy what you are doing. At times this year the burden of what we have been through has weighed us down.

“There were a lot of happy kids in the locker room and that was good to see.”

WALLA WALLA 82, BLUE MOUNTAIN 63

WALLA WALLA (82) — Radliff 3-8 2-4 9, Rada 10-14 6-7 29, Mills 0-0 5-6 5, Reich 3-7 1-2 9, Hahn 3-5 0-0 6, Harr 4-9 2-3 11, Nooner 6-9 1-2 13, Scharf 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-52 17-24 83.

BLUE MOUNTAIN (63) — Abraham III 3-7 1-3 7, Bartley 0-2 0-0 0, Butler 0-13 6-6 6, Coleman 0-3 1-5 1, Gordon 0-0 0-0 0, Hoisington 0-0 0-0 0, Kiser 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 5-8 1-2 12, Owens 0-1 0-0 0, Randall 0-1 0-0 0, Walker 7-12 1-1 16, Adams 8-17 2-2 21, Gassman 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-65 12-19 63

Halftime — WWCC 36, Blue Mountain 13. 3-point goals — WWCC 7-18 (Radliff 1-2, Rada 3-7, Reich 2-5, Harr 1-4), Blue Mountain 5-18 (Abraham III 0-1, Bartley 0-2, Butler 0-1, Martin 1-2, Randall 0-1, Walker 1-2, Adams 3-9). Total fouls — WWCC 20, Blue Mountain 20. Fouled out — WWCC (Nooner). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — WWCC 45 (Nooner 15), Blue Mountain 29 (Walker 8), Turnovers — WWCC 16, Blue Mountain 8. Assists — WWCC 9 (Harr 4), Blue Mountain 9 (Coleman 3).

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