WWCC women knock off Columbia Basin

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WALLA WALLA — Bobbi Hazeltine and her Walla Walla Warriors will head into next week’s NWAACC Championships in Kennewick with a full head of steam after handing Columbia Basin its first league loss of the season.

The Warriors picked up a 69-57 victory over the Hawks in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday night at the Dietrich Dome. Columbia Basin finished 13-1 in the division and 23-4 overall while second-place Walla Walla improved to 12-2 and 18-7.

“It’s always great to take some momentum into the tournament,” Hazeltine said in the happy moments following her team’s seventh consecutive victory. The Warriors’ last loss came at the hands of Columbia Basin 81-77 Jan. 29 in Pasco.

Saturday’s victory also snapped a 17-game Columbia Basin winning streak. The Hawks hadn’t lost since Dec. 14, a 59-55 defeat at the hands of Clackamas in a non-league game.

“This is a friendly rivalry and we respect them tremendously,” Hazeltine said of the Hawks. “They are our measuring stick, and to beat them is a feather in our cap. And I think this is good for CBC as well as it is for us.”

The Warriors led by as many as eight points, 15-7, midway in the first half. But the Hawks whittled the lead to four, 32-28, at the intermission and outscored the Warriors 11-2 to open the second half and take a 39-34 lead with 16:34 remaining in the game.

“They got the lead and we could have folded,” Hazeltine said. “I loved the way our kids responded to their run. It was a big sign of maturity on the part of our team.”

Warriors freshman Bailey Nygaard, who led all scorers in the game with 17 points, responded to the Hawks surge with back-to-back baskets and sophomore MeShel Rad put back a rebound as WWCC reclaimed the lead, 40-39, with 12:50 to play. The lead changed hands four times after that until CBC’s Sierra Higheagle drained a 3-pointer from deep in the corner to forge a 52-52 tie with 3:40 showing.

WWCC freshman Karli McHone, who had missed her previous six shots from behind the arc, finally connected and Walla Walla took a 55-52 lead at the 3:19 mark. With the Hawks suddenly going cold from the field, the Warriors’ Amy DeLong sank two free throws and Josie Jordan stroked a 16-footer from the baseline as WWCC moved out to a six-point lead and the clock ticked under two minutes.

With their shots still not falling, the Hawks were forced to foul. And WWCC sealed the win by sinking 10-of-12 free throws in the final 1:06.

While the Warriors made 23-of-27 from the line for the game, CBC was a sparse 4-of-6.

Columbia Basin fans were no doubt mystified by the disparity.

“I know it,” Hazeltine said in recognizing the lopsided numbers. “But sometimes that happens.”

Sixteen of WWCC’s free throws came in the final 4:25 of the game and were inflated when CBC was forced to foul. But it was WWCC’s 48-33 dominance on the backboards that also led to trips to the free-throw line throughout the game.

“The big key for us was our rebounding,” Hazeltine said. “Our kids take pride in rebounding more than anything else. And that was the difference in this game.”

Jessica Siler, limited to fewer than 19 minutes after getting into early foul trouble, led all rebounders with 11. She got plenty of help from DeLong with eight rebounds, Rad with seven and Nygaard and Jordan with six each.

WWCC’s scoring load was also shared as Siler tallied 12 points, DeLong scored 11 in limited minutes because of foul problems and Jordan added 10.

Kelsey Yenney led the Hawks with 14 points and Higheagle finished with 13.

“We wanted to finish the regular season on a good note,” Hazeltine said. “Now we’ve got a full week to get ready for the tournament.”

WWCC 69, CBC 57

COLUMBIA BASIN (57) — Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Ross 0-4 0-0 0, Yenney 5-9 0-0 14, Bland 1-8 0-0 2, Mercer 4-8 0-0 9, Oswalt 0-0 0-0 0, Higheagle 5-10 1-2 13, French 4-7 0-0 8, Bingham 0-0 0-0 0, Depew 0-5 0-0 0, Nelson 3-11 3-4 9. Totals 23-65 4-6 57.

WALLA WALLA (69) — McHone 1-7 4-4 7, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Corbett 0-2 0-0 0, Jordan 4-8 2-2 10, Davis 0-0 2-2 2, DeLong 2-6 7-8 11, Nygaard 7-18 2-3 17, Rad 3-6 2-2 8, Vincent 1-4 0-0 2, Siler 4-8 4-6 12. Totals 22-59 23-27 69.

Halftime — WWCC 32-28. 3-point goals — CBC 7-22 (Ross 0-4, Yenney 4-7, Bland 0-1, Mercer 1-2, Higheagle 2-3, Depew 0-1, Nelson 0-4), WWCC 2-20 (McHone 1-7, Corbett 0-2, Jordan 0-2, Nygaard 1-8, Vincent 0-1). Total fouls — CBC 23, WWCC 13. Fouled out — CBC (Bland). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — WWCC 48 (Siler 11), CBC 33 (French 7). Assists — CBC 7 (Ross 2, Bland 2), WWCC 7 (McHone 3).

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