Warrior men fall to Chemeketa in NWAACC opener, 78-70

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KENNEWICK — For one half here Saturday afternoon, it appeared that Walla Walla Community College was primed and ready to pull off an upset in the opening round of the NWAACC men’s basketball tournament at the Toyota Center.

The Warriors — who entered the tourney as the No. 4 seed from the Eastern Region and with a 13-13 overall record — held a 36-33 halftime lead over sixth-ranked Chemeketa, the South Region’s regular-season champion and last season’s NWAACC runner-up.

Then came the first two-and-a-half minutes of the second stanza.

The Storm began period two with an 11-0 run and maintained the lead the remainder of the contest in a 78-70 victory, a triumph that improved their mark to 18-8.

WWCC will play an elimination game against Peninsula today at 10 a.m. while Chemeketa faces Tacoma at 2 p.m. in the tournament quarterfinals. Tacoma beat Peninsula on Saturday, 73-60.

The competitive nature of Saturday’s opening half between the Warriors and Storm was perhaps best reflected by eight ties and 10 lead changes. Neither team led by more than three points in the first 20 minutes of play.

Walla Walla enjoyed three-point margins on five occasions in the first half — 10-7, 12-9, 14-11, 22-19, and 31-28 — before taking its halftime edge on an Eric Harr 3-pointer just one tick before intermission.

WWCC’s Case Rada weathered the Storm defense and tallied 16 first-half points on 7-of-13 shooting.

As a team, the Warriors shot 47 percent from the field in half one (15-of-32).

Chemeketa’s Gavin Kauffman scored four points, Andrew Saba added three, and Jacob Begin and Trevor Phillips contributed two points apiece during the Storm’s deluge to commence half two.

“We have seven guys back (from the 2011-12 team) and they understand what it takes (to win),” Chemeketa coach David Abderhalden said. “They know you can’t take anything for granted. We told them to compete every possession because (the Warriors) were going to.”

“We had a bad start to the second half,” WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. “That was the difference in the game. I knew it would come down to somebody having a lull. We played hard, but didn’t seem to have a lot of energy.”

Walla Walla twice closed to within five, 52-47 and 54-49, midway through the second half, but would get no closer.

Chemeketa claimed its biggest lead of the game, 11 points, with 5:48 on the clock. A three-point play by Phillips put the Storm up 68-57.

The Warriors pulled to within six in two instances, 70-64 and 72-66, during the closing minutes, but to no avail.

The Storm shot 59 percent from the field in the second half (19-of-32) while WWCC connected on just 38 percent of its attempts (13-of-34).

For the game, Walla Walla shot 42 percent (28-of-66) from the floor, but just 21 percent (6-of-29) from the arc.

“We talked about focusing and defending a little bit harder,” Abderhalden said. “We know they can shoot and attack. We did a better job of stepping up and getting stops (in the second half).”

“We’ve got to shoot the ball better,” Reinland said. “You can’t come in here and go 6-for-29 from 3. We had a lot of good looks, but we missed them.”

Rada ended the game with 23 points. Austin Nooner delivered 16 and Dylan Radliff scored 12 points for the Warriors.

Phillips paced Chemeketa with 19 points.

CHEMEKETA 78, WWCC 70

WWCC (70) SEmD Radliff 5-17 1-3 12, Rada 8-20 4-4 23, Mills 0-0 0-0 0, Reich 0-3 0-0 0, Hahn 5-10 0-0 11, Harr 2-7 1-2 6, Nooner 7-8 2-4 16, Scharf 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-66 8-13 70.

CHEMEKETA (78) SEmD Branch 1-1 0-0 2, Saba 2-8 0-1 6, Molan 5-10 0-1 11, Bately 2-4 0-0 4, Hutt 0-0 0-0 0, Prazeau 3-4 0-0 6, Begin 3-3 2-2 9, Kauffman 8-16 0-0 16, Nelson 0-2 0-0 0, Howard 2-6 1-2 5, Phillips 7-11 5-7 19. Totals 33-65 8-13 78.

Halftime — WWCC 36-33. 3-point goals SEmD WWCC 6-29 (Rada 3-12, Radliff 1-4, Hahn 1-5, Harr 1-5, Reich 0-3), Chemeketa 4-19 (Saba 2-5, Begin 1-1, Molan 1-5, Nelson 0-2, Kauffman 0-3, Howard 0-3). Total fouls—WWCC 14, Chemeketa 8. Fouled out—none. Technical fouls—none. Rebounds— WWCC 35 (Nooner 9), Chemeketa 45 (Kauffman 8, Howard 8). Turnovers—WWCC 9, Chemeketa 11. Assists— WWCC 16 (Radliff 7, Rada 7), Chemeketa 18 (Kauffman 5).

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