Walla Walla Community College
Men's Basketball

Radliff’s return

WWCC shooting guard Landon Radliff leads the Warrior men back to the NWAC tourney in Everett, where they open against Centralia on Saturday, to defend their title.

One can’t help but wonder what Landon Radliff will do for an encore performance beginning Saturday when he leads his Walla Walla Community College men’s basketball team into the NWAC Championships in Everett.

A year ago, surrounded by four high-scoring sophomores, the 6-foot-1 freshman point guard directed the Warriors to their first NWAC title in 38 years. And just for good measure, he was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“It was one of the biggest accomplishments I have ever gotten,” Radliff said of the MVP award. “It was pretty surprising, I am not going to lie. Looking back, all I can remember was having a clear mind and playing my butt off every single second I was in the game.”

Prior to the championship game against Spokane, Radliff took on an additional role: Motivational speaker.

“I got up in front of the whole team and gave this speech,” Radliff remembered. “I told them that I didn’t want to lose this game because our sophomores were going to be taking off their jerseys for the last time.

“I’m sure that some of them were looking at me and thinking this freshman kid is crazy, but by halftime we were beating them by 30 points. Our sophomores, I don’t know what it was but they just decided they wanted to dominate.”

Radliff, a Richland High School product and the youngest of three brothers to play for WWCC coach Jeff Reinland, has made the switch from point guard to shooting guard as a sophomore and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s averaging right at 22 points and 4.5 assists in leading Walla Walla to the East Region championship and a 22-7 record overall.

“There’s a little more pressure to make things happen,” Radliff said of his new role. “I’m coming off a lot of screens and making more plays rather than just distributing the ball.

“But so far it’s been a lot better. I’m giving myself a name and our team is winning. But I wouldn’t be without my team and them having my back.”

By the time Radliff graduated from Richland High in the spring of 2016, it was fairly clear that WWCC would be his next basketball destination. He had spent a lot of winter nights in the Dietrich Dome watching older brothers Dylan and Payton star for the Warriors and he wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“I watched a lot of their games and they were a good influence,” Landon said of his older siblings.

“And a lot of it, too, was coach Reinland,” he added. “I liked his old-school style, how intense he was. You could tell he was a competitor and a winner.”

Former Wa-Hi Blue Devil basketball standout Earl Streufert was Radliff’s high-school coach, and Streufert’s coaching style is similar to Reinland’s, Radliff said.

“My brothers pretty much said there was not much difference between the two,” Radliff said. “They liked that and told me that I would, too.”

And they were right.

“I love it,” Radliff said of his WWCC experience. “I will never forget these last two years playing under Reinland.

“We gave him his first (NWAC) championship, coach of the year and now the region championship. It means everything to help coach Reinland get all the success that he deserves.”

The Warriors entered last year’s tournament as a No. 3 seed and were possibly overlooked at the outset. This year, as the No. 1 seed from the East, that won’t be the case.

“We are not overlooking Centralia,” Radliff said of WWCC’s first-round opponent Saturday afternoon, even though the Trailblazers have a 10-19 record and lost to the Warriors 91-67 when they met Dec. 29 in the second round of a tournament in Oregon City, Ore.

“We are going to be ready for whatever they are going to throw at us,” Radliff added. “Our focus is to have a high energy level going into that first game.”

Dylan Radliff, who is now one of Reinland’s assistant coaches, helped the Warriors to back-to-back tournament appearances in 2012-13, although WWCC was two-and-out both years. Payton Radliff was a two-year Warriors starting guard in 2015-16 but WWCC failed to qualify for the NWACs either year.

“Dylan and Landon are the most alike,” Reinland said. “They are both really crafty players, tricky with the ball and able to finish around the rim. Payton was probably the best shooter of the three but more of a straightaway type player, not quite as crafty and shifty.

“But all three are really good players who had great careers here.”

Reinland added that Landon was won more games than either of his brothers, 24 in 2017 and 22 so far this year.

“He’s the most competitive kid we have in practice,” Reinland said of his shooting guard. “Any drill we have where we keep score, he loves to win. Landon loves to win and he doesn’t like to sit when we try to get him some rest. He likes to be in the fray all the time.”

Radliff hopes to continue his basketball career at the four-year level and Reinland is sure there is a place for him somewhere.

“He has some schools who are interested in him right now,” Reinland said. “I would like to think (NCAA) Division II would be a good level for him.”

But as far as Radliff is concerned, now is not the time to be thinking about next year.

“When it comes to an end is when I start thinking about that,” he said. “Right now I’m still taking it one game at a time.

“When we stepped on the court for spring basketball coach made sure we knew that last year was last year and that this was a totally different team,” he added. “I had no vision of this year’s team except coach telling me I was going to be a big part of it.

“My mindset went to being a team leader and getting these guys back on the road to the tournament which we are now on.”

Poised for an encore.

All-NWAC East teams

Walla Walla made quite a haul this week when the Northwest Athletic Conference handed out its East Region postseason basketball awards.

Sophomore shooting guard Landon Radliff was honored as the region most valuable player on the men’s team and sophomore Cierra Jo McKeown, also a shooting guard, earned the women’s MVP award.

Radliff averaged 20 points a game in leading the Warrior men to the East Region title while McKeown scored at a 22-point clip and set WWCC’s career scoring record en route to winning the women’s region championship.

Radliff and McKeown will lead their respective teams into the NWAC Championships this week in Everett.

Damen Thacker, a freshman point guard, earned all-East first-team honors on the men’s team and Brandon Porter, a sophomore guard, was named to the East’s all-defensive team.

Sophomore point guard Jade Skidmore was named to the women’s all-East first team and another sophomore guard, Kortney Hutchison, is a member of the all-defensive squad.

And Warriors men’s coach Jeff Reinland and women’s coach Bobbi Hazeltine were both voted coach of the year for leading their teams to regional championships. Hazeltine’s women’s team takes a 28-1 record to Everett and the men finished the regular season 22-7.

All-Eastern Region


MOST VALUABLE PLAYER — Landon Radliff, Soph., Walla Walla.

FIRST TEAM — RayQuan Evans, Fr., North Idaho; Cesar Sandoval, Soph., Spokane; Damen Thacker, Fr., Walla Walla; Justin Martin, Soph., Wenatchee; Gamuan Boykin, Soph., Yakima.

SECOND TEAM — De Angelo Stowers, Fr., Big Bend; Jalen Burkett, Soph., North Idaho; Cameron Gay, Soph., Spokane; Tyus Jefferson, Soph., Treasure Valley; Quentin Raynor, Fr., Yakima.

FRESHMAN OF YEAR — RayQuan Evans, Fr., North Idaho.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR — Jalen Burkett, Soph., North Idaho.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM — Cameron Gay, Soph., Spokane; Tyus Jefferson, Soph., Treasure Valley; Jarek Schetzle, Soph., Treasure Valley; Brandon Porter, Soph., Walla Walla; Gamaun Boykin, Soph., Yakima.

COACH OF YEAR — Jeff Reinland, Walla Walla.


MOST VALUABLE PLAYER — Cierra Jo McKeown, Soph., Walla Walla

FIRST TEAM — Alexis Castro, Fr., Columbia Basin; Cierra Devorak, Soph., North Idaho; Jade Skidmore, Soph., Walla Walla; Ashlynn Burgess, Fr., Wenatchee; Kamri Von Oelhoffen, Fr., Yakima.

SECOND TEAM — Sunnie Martinez, Soph., Big Bend; Saben Keo, Soph., Columbia Basin; Miranda Johnson, Fr., Big Bend; Sara Ramirez, Fr., Columbia Basin; Jessica Olson, Fr., Spokane.

FRESHMAN OF YEAR — Kamri Von Oelhoffen, Fr., Yakima.

DEFENSIVE PLAYE OF YEAR — Sabin Keo, Soph., Columbia Basin.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM — Hailey Garrity, Soph., Big Bend; Alexis Castro, Fr., Columbia Basin; Ronnie Harris, Soph., North Idaho; Kortney Hutchison, Soph., Walla Walla; Carly Davis, Soph., Yakima.

COACH OF YEAR — Bobbi Hazeltine, Walla Walla.

Union Bulletin