ONTARIO, Ore. — Marcus McKone and Gary Engstrom gave Walla Walla Community College two much-needed performances off the bench as the first-place Warriors, shorthanded due to the flu, kept their NWAC East lead with a hard-fought 81-75 victory over Treasure Valley in men’s basketball action here on Wednesday.
McKone hit five 3-pointers and ended up with a game-high 20 points for WWCC (16-4, 6-1 in the division), and Engstrom registered a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, to help the Warriors pick up their fifth straight win and stay one game ahead of Spokane and North Idaho — both also victorious Wednesday, and tied for second place with 5-2 records.
“We’re not 100-percent healthy right now, so it was a tough one for us and we had to grind it out the whole way,” said Warriors coach Jeff Reinland, who had to leave freshman Jared Anderson home with illness. “Jared didn’t go, and I thought that hurt us a little bit because we never really matched up well with (Treasure Valley).
“It’s a tough place to play, and we just struggled shooting all night,” he continued. “I mean, we hit some big shots down the stretch, but really I thought it was our defense that won it for us because our shooting was sporadic.”
McKone wound up leading the four Warriors who scored in double digits, with Landon Radliff tallying 19 points, and Brandon Porter adding another 12.
Porter hit four 3-pointers, and Radliff three as WWCC finished the night with 12, but the Warriors had to dig themselves out of a 10-0 hole in the opening minutes.
“We came out flat, and (Treasure Valley) came out fired up,” Reinland said. “They’re a good team. We did a good job just hanging in there the whole game. Brandon Porter hit a 3-pointer from out of the corner that kinda got us going. We started playing better, but it wasn’t our best game.”
Engstrom, a 6-foot-10 forward, enabled WWCC to contain Treasure Valley’s 6-11 Jarek Schetzle.
“He was a little too much for Jake Albright (a starter, limited to 15 minutes of action),” Reindland said. “Gary equalized him a bit. Gary’s played some really inspired ball lately. which I like to see. He’s playing hard and doing some good things.”
WWCC stays home when it returns to action, hosting Columbia Basin on Saturday.
“They’ll be ready for us,” Reinland said. “It’s gonna be tough. WWCC and CBC is always tough. We just need to keep grinding away, and hopefully we can get healthy.”
Warriors 81, Chukars 75
WALLA WALLA (81) — McKone 20, Radliff 19, Porter 12, Engstrom 10, Thacker 9, Watson 9, Albright 2.
TREASURE VALLEY (75) — Okafor 15, Alexander 13, Jefferson 13, Bailey 11, Mitchell 9, Schetzle 8, Jones 6.
Halftime — Walla Walla, 39-31. 3-point goals — Walla Walla 12, Treasure Valley 1. Total fouls — Walla Walla 21, Treasure Valley 18. Fouled out — Walla Walla (Porter, Engstrom). Technical fouls — Walla Walla. Rebounds — Walla Walla 44, Treasure Valley 31. Turnovers — Walla Walla 12, Treasure Valley 5. Assists — Walla Walla 12, Treasure Valley 7.