SPOKANE — Five Walla Walla Community College men scored in double digits, but the first-place Warriors’ six-game winning streak ended with a 99-89 loss in overtime to Spokane in NWAC East Region men’s basketball action here on Wednesday.
Landon Radliff scored 27 points to lead WWCC (17-5 overall, 7-2 in the league), teammate Brandon Porter had 19, Kendall Watson 14, Damen Thacker 13, and Marcus McKone 12, but the Warriors finished the night with only a half-game lead over North Idaho in the East standings.
And perhaps even worse, WWCC freshman guard Marcus McKone may no longer be able to play this season after suffering a knee injury with less than a minute left in regulation.
Warriors coach Jeff Reinland fears McKone, averaging 15.3 points per game mostly off the bench, may have torn an anterior cruciate ligament.
“We had the ball with the score tied and ran a play to Marcus, but his toe got caught on the floor and he blew out his knee,” Reinland said. “It was a tough game, well played, hard fought, could’ve gone either way, but we had that unfortunate turn of events at the end. We just didn’t play well in overtime, and made a lot of mistakes.
“I really think our guys got rattled by what happened to Marcus.”
The Warriors have a week to recuperate before returning to action with a visit from Wenatchee Valley, currently tied for third place with Spokane and Yakima Valley, this Wednesday.
In the meantime, second-place North Idaho will have a chance to join WWCC atop the division standings with a victory over Yakima on Saturday.
“We’ve got a week off, and we’ll need the guys to step up a little bit more,” Reinland said. “We’re still in first, we’re still battling, but it’s going to be tought these next few weeks. I mean, we’re first but we’re also one game out of sixth. It has the potential to get scary down the stretch.”
Disappointment finished an otherwise exciting night of basketball here Wednesday.
WWCC lit up the scoreboard with 14-of-39 shooting from 3-point range. Radliff nailed five attempts, Porter and McKone each hit four, while Thacker had the other.
However, Spokane also ended up with five scorers in double figures as Cesar Sandoval put up a game-high 39 points.
“It was a great game, close the whole way,” Reinland said. “The score at end was the biggest lead of the game. It was back and forth. We couldn’t stop Cesar, he was too big.
“We did a great job shooting sometimes, but our defense really wasn’t here in the second half,” Reinland continued. “The biggest thing is that we got some open looks, only we didn’t hit them, but really our blown coverage on defense was the thing I’m most upset about. We blew the same coverages that we had had no trouble with in the first half. We had them scouted, but the second half we just broke down.”
Nevertheless, McKone connected on three consective 3-pointers late in the second half as the Warriors pulled even with Spokane at 83-83.
That’s when McKone went down.
“We’re not sure,” Reinland said about the extent of the injury this morning. “All indications are that it’s pretty serious. Talking to the Spokane trainer, she says it looks like a torn ACL. Marcus knows what that’s like. He’s had one before.”
The Sasquatch then scored off a WWCC turnover, but the Warriors answered on a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left.
An overtime period followed, but Spokane finished the game with a 14-4 run.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Reinland said. “His toe got caught and then he just kinda fell, but right away he was in a lot of pain. He’s already had a blown knee, the other one. It’s devastating, just a bad turn of events.
“He’s a big part of our team,” Reinland continued “He’s a great kid, already taking about surgery and getting back with us next year. All the kids like Marcus, so I really believe this got to us. We got down, but give Spokane credit. They hit the big shots.
“We blew lots of coverages,” he added. “We didn’t have the same concentration level. You can’t let that happens when you’re up against a good team. But losing Marcus is our biggest concern.”
Sasquatch 99, Warriors 89, OT
WALLA WALLA (89) — Radliff 27, Porter 19, Watson 14, Thacker 13, McKone 12, Seme 4.
SPOKANE (99) — Sandoval 39, Gay 20, Alexander 12, Gotell 11, Pakootas 10, Pilimai 3, Harris 2, Delgado 2.
Halftime — Walla Walla, 39-33. 3-point goals — Walla Walla 14, Spokane 6. Total fouls — Walla Walla 18, Spokane 10. Fouled out — Walla Walla (Watson). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Walla Walla 42, Spokane 32. Turnovers — Walla Walla 22, Spokane 14. Assists — Walla Walla 10, Spokane 16.
Northwest Athletic Conference
Men’s basketball standings
Wednesday, Jan. 31 games
Spokane 99, Walla Walla 89, OT
Wenatchee Valley 83, Big Bend 81
Treasure Valley 74, Blue Mountain 60
Yakima Valley 104, Columbia Basin 66
Saturday, Feb. 3 games
Spokane at Treasure Valley, 3 p.m.
Blue Mountain at Big Bend, 4 p.m.
Wenatchee Valley at Columbia Basin, 4 p.m.
Yakima Valley at North Idaho, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 7 games
Wenatchee Valley at Walla Walla, 8 p.m.
Spokane at Big Bend, 8 p.m.
North Idaho at Columbia Basin, 8 p.m.
Blue Mountain at Yakima Valley, 8 p.m.