DAYTON — It was a fourth-quarter flurry that helped the Walla Walla Valley Academy boys basketball team seal a Southeast 2B League victory against Dayton on Thursday.
Led by Malcolm Shaw, who scored all 11 of his points in the final frame, the Knights sealed the victory with 21 points in the final period to win 49-31. Shaw knocked down three of WWVA’s six 3-pointers during the late-game barrage.
“Malcolm is our sixth man and he’s been a great addition this year,” WWVA coach Scott Wagner said. “He’s a very good shooter and he’s a smart defender. He comes in and you can count on him to just hit shots. That’s a hard thing to do — to come off the bench and just be able to be a stone-cold shooter. That’s definitely his thing.”
The Knights’ defense played a big role in the victory, as WWVA forced 12 Dayton turnovers and restricted the Bulldogs to only 13-of-49 shooting. Dayton managed only nine points in the second and third quarters combined.
The Bulldogs were getting good looks around the hoop, head coach Roy Ramirez said, but Dayton simply could not find the bottom of the net.
“We’re getting the shots we wanted, we just didn’t hit them,” he said. “There were a couple times that we didn’t take care of the basketball, but we just need to finish. If we can finish our shots, we’ll be just fine.”
After going into halftime with a 15-13 lead, the Knights’ fast-break offense came alive in the second half. Turnovers and missed shots continually produced easy layups for WWVA after intermission.
Cam Fitzgerald came up with the play of the night off a steal, as he jumped a Dayton pass and took off the other way. With two defenders trailing him, Fitzgerald rose up for a powerful two-handed slam that gave the Knights a 32-20 lead with around six minutes left in the game.
“We talked about being a little bit more aggressive in the passing lanes and looking up the court,” Wagner said. “They started looking for each other. When you have seniors that have played together for a while, that’s where it shows. Tough game to be disciplined, but they kind of broke it open by finding each other and making smart decisions.”
The Knights finished with eight assists in the game, as Wagner said WWVA had to adjust its offense due to Dayton’s defensive pressure. The Bulldogs took away the outside shot early, which forced WWVA to move its offense down low.
WWVA went just 2-of-13 in the first quarter, but Wagner readjusted his offense to work the ball inside-out.
“We’re a team that’s going to shoot,” Wagner said. “We have good shooters. That’s part of our game. But you have to go inside-out to get those shots. They really did a good job of taking those away early. We attacked the rim, which created those open looks and the guys started knocking those downs.”
The Knights finished the game 20-of-45 from the field. Ramirez was pleased with his team’s defense, as he said WWVA’s fourth quarter shooting bolstered their offensive statistics.
“They love to shoot the 3,” Ramirez said. We always try to pressure the ball. We always play man. Guys work hard at defense and they got open a couple times and they hit the shots they needed to make to win the game.”
Matt Cosaert scored a game-high 13 points for WWVA. Dustin Rose added 12, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Dayton’s Zach Waggoner scored a team-high 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Logan Hays also added eight points for the Bulldogs.
“Zach plays really hard and they all play hard,” Ramirez said. “They got Zach the ball where he needed to be. We worked on finishing this week and he did a better job tonight. We just have to continue to improve there. We’ve got some work to do.”
For the most part, WWVA’s zone defense caused problems for the Dayton shooters. Wagner said the Knights’ rotations were crisp and their communication allowed them to constantly pressure the Bulldogs.
As for Dayton, Ramirez said his team must work on its offense, especially converting its chances around the rim.
“For us, it’s inexperience finishing games,” he said. “We played better tonight. We were able to do some stuff we wanted to do. We didn’t let them dictate anything. But WWVA played really well, they shot the ball well and hopefully we’ll continue to improve and get there.”
The Bulldogs face Waitsburg-Prescott on the road ,while WWVA hosts Asotin on Saturday.
WWVA 49, Dayton 31
WWVA (49) — Rose 5-11 0-0 12, Cosaert 5-13 3-4 13, Ligman 2-4 0-0 5, Shaw 4-10 0-0 11, Fitzgerald 2-3 0-1 4, Hutton 0-1 0-0 0, King 1-1 0-0 2, Tewell 1-1 0-0 2, Dybdahl 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 3-5 49.
DAYTON (31) — Hays 4-14 0-0 8, Waggoner 4-9 3-6 11, Kleck 1-6 0-0 2, Ramirez 2-13 0-0 4, Smay 2-6 0-0 4 Bren 0-0 2-2 2, McCleary 0-1 0-0 0, Mendoza 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-49 5-8 31
WWVA 6 9 13 21 — 49
Dayton 9 4 5 13 — 31
3-point goals — WWVA 6 (Shaw 3), Day 0. Total fouls — WWVA 5, Day 6. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Turnovers — WWVA 8, Day 12. Assists — WWVA 8 (Rose 2, Cosaert 2), Day 7 (Ramirez 4).