KENNEWICK — Coach Bobbi Hazeltine couldn’t find a thing to complain about here Saturday afternoon in the moments after her Walla Walla women’s basketball team dominated Treasure Valley 70-46 in the first round of the NWAACC Championships in the Toyota Center.
Oh, check that. The Warriors’ 20-for-30 showing from the free-throw line (67 percent) didn’t measure up to the 72 percent clip the team chalked up during the course of the regular season.
“We did miss some free throws today,” the Warriors coach said. But she was grinning when she said it, because in every other aspect of the game the Walla Wallans were in top form.
Most impressive was the sophomore trio of Jessica Siler, Amy DeLong and MeShel Rad, who combined for 38 rebounds as WWCC crushed the taller Cardinals 61-33 on the backboards.
Also, WWCC’s freshman guards — Bailey Nygaard, Lainey Corbett and Karli McHone — teamed up to limit Skagit Valley’s two leading scorers to 11 points total on 4-for-19 shooting from the floor and 0-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc.
And McHone, Rad, DeLong and Siler all scored in double figures as the Warriors gradually built a 42-25 halftime lead and never allowed Skagit Valley to get any closer in the second half as they advanced to the tournament quarterfinals for a 10th consecutive year.
Walla Walla is matched against South Region champion Umpqua here this afternoon at 2. The Riverhawks defeated Centralia 88-50 Saturday in the game immediately following Walla Walla’s lopsided victory.
With three 6-footers available around the basket and two all-North Region guards in the back court, Skagit Valley appeared to have a combination of players that could cause problems for the Warriors. But they didn’t.
“Gosh darn, we just rebounded so well,” Hazeltine said in explaining her team’s domination of Skagit Valley. “We are so athletic underneath the basket. That combination of Jessica, Amy and MeShel is just hard to stop.
“It was pretty exciting in the second half when we were playing with the lead and were able to get all those extra possessions with ‘O’ boards. That allowed us to run more time off the clock.”
And then there was the scrappy defense by the Warrior guards.
“People might not realize it, but their two guards were both all-North Division guards,” Hazeltine said of Skagit’s Sydney Brown, a first-team selection, and Samantha Kelleigh, named to the second team. “And our guards held them to seven points.
“I am so pleased with the way our freshmen guards came out and played in their first NWAACC.”
McHone, who came off the Warrior bench, was the offensive spark that ignited the victory. The Cardinals used their size advantage early to disrupt WWCC’s offense in the paint, but McHone made them pay from the perimeter.
The 5-foot-4 McHone, from Glenns Ferry, Idaho, entered the game and immediately drained a 3-pointer from the corner for a 10-7 Warriors lead with 14:37 left in the first half. She struck again three minutes later for a 17-10 advantage, and again at 7:46 for a 22-16 lead.
McHone’s fourth 3-pointer of the game made it an 11-point Walla Walla lead, 29-18, and her fifth came with 39 seconds on the clock and sent the Warriors to the locker room with a 17-point lead.
McHone knocked down one more trey in the second half and led the Warriors in scoring with 18 points. Rad followed with 16 points and DeLong and Siler, two of the Warriors’ three leading scorers on the season, finished with 13 points each.
Nygaard, the team’s second-leading scorer, finished with seven points, all of them coming late.
“I turned to one of my assistants with about seven minutes left and pointed out that we were up by 20 and hadn’t gotten anything from Bailey offensively,” Hazeltine said. “And I said, ‘That’s pretty good.’”
Linda Wilson, one of Skagit Valley’s 6-footers, led the Cardinals with 13 points.
Siler was a monster on the backboards for WWCC with 18 rebounds. DeLong collected 11 and Rad finished with nine.
DeLong and Nygaard finished with four assists each.
“We came into this game with a definite game plan, and we executed it perfectly,” Hazeltine said. “It was a team effort, and I’m just thrilled that we don’t have just one or two kids on this team (who can play).”
WWCC 70, SVCC 46
SKAGIT VALLEY (46) — Turrieta 0-2 1-2 1, Wood 1-6 0-1 2, Filtz 1-3 0-0 2, Duncan 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 3-11 1-2 7, Kelleigh 1-8 2-2 4, Graham 1-4 2-2 5, Poradun 2-3 1-2 5, Wilson 4-5 5-6 23, Boyd 2-10 1-3 5, Stadt 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-57 13-20 46
WALLA WALLA (70) — McHone 6-12 0-0 18, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Corbett 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 0-3 0-2 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, DeLong 5-11 2-3 13, Nygaard 1-6 4-6 7, Rad 4-8 8-13 16, Vincent 0-0 0-0 0, Stubbs 0-1 0-0 0, Siler 5-13 3-4 13, Stefanski 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 20-30 70.
Halftime — WWCC 42, Skagit Valley 25. 3-point goals — Skagit Valley 1-14 (Wood 0-2, Filtz 0-1, Duncan 0-1, Brown 0-5, Kelleigh 0-3, Graham 1-1, Boyd 0-1), WWCC 8-21 (McHone 6-12, Jordan 0-2, DeLong 1-1, Nygaard 1-5, Stubbs 0-1). Total fouls — Skagit Valley 21, WWCC 13. Fouled out — none. Rebounds — WWCC 61 (Siler 18), Skagit Valley 33 (Wilson 5, Brown 5). Turnovers — WWCC 15, Skagit Valley 10. Assists — WWCC 17 (DeLong 4, Nygaard 4), Skagit Valley 7 (Brown 3).