Walla Walla Community College
Men's Basketball

Warriors comeback attempt falls short

Walla Walla erased all but one point of a 22-point second-half deficit late Saturday afternoon in the Dietrich Dome, but Wenatchee held on for an 84-82 victory in a men’s Northwest Athletic Conference East Region basketball game.

The Warriors trailed 62-40 with 12:18 remaining when the Knights’ Christian Solovey drove the lane for a basket. But Walla Walla charged back and drew within 83-82 when Payton Radliff sank a 3-point shot, drew a foul and converted the free throw with 8.3 seconds on the clock.

Walla Walla immediately fouled Dylan Boyd with 7.6 seconds showing, and he made the second of two free throws for a two-point Wenatchee lead. The Warriors raced down the floor, Radliff got off a 15-foot baseline jumper that bounced off the rim and Mason Schutt missed a tip-in opportunity as the horn sounded to end the game.

“I’m just speechless,” WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. “We have a big game on our home floor and we come out and lay an egg for the first 30 minutes. And then we had a shot to win it at the end.

“Kids today, the energy all comes from one place, and that’s making baskets. It’s just how the game is now. What matter is how it’s going on the offensive end of the floor. If I could change that, I would be a millionaire because I think a lot of coaches are experiencing the same thing these days.”

The Warriors certainly lacked the energy — or at least a shooting touch — early on as they missed nine of their first 10 shots from the floor. The Knights weren’t much better, sinking three of their first 10 field goal tries and going 1-for-8 from the free-throw line over the first six minutes of the game.

WWCC enjoyed its last lead of the game, 14-12, with 11:03 to play in the first half when Radliff was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and connected on all three free throws. Wenatchee’s Easton Driessen scored a layin and a 3-pointer for a 17-14 Knights lead, but WWCC’s Jarid Downey answered with a trey to knot the score at 17-17.

But a turnaround jumper by Keegan Crafton and back-to-back 3-pointers by Bryan Michaels allowed Wenatchee to fashion a 24-17 lead and the Knights eventually led 45-32 at the intermission.

The visitors proceeded to outscore their hosts 17-8 to begin the second half and led by 22 points before WWCC launched its comeback. Radliff and Dalton Thompson hit three 3-pointers each Dylan Steele hit one to fuel the Warriors’ rally.

Radliff scored 21 points to lead WWCC’s offense, but he sank just 5-of-21 shots overall and was 3-for-12 from 3-point distance. Thompson and Steele added 14 points each and Mitch Mueller contributed 13. Devan Kohn, WWCC’s inside scoring threat, was limited to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.

Driessen made 10-of-19 field-goal tries and led Wenatchee with a game-high 25 points. Michaels, one of the Knights’ top scorers on the year, tallied 17, but he was 6-for-21 shooting.

Walla Walla shot a dismal 32 percent from the field for the game compared to Wenatchee’s 45-percent shooting. The Knights also held a commanding 62-46 rebounding edge, with Michaels leading the way with nine boards. Thompson had eight rebounds for WWCC.

The Warriors have now lost two straight to fall to 1-2 in East Region play and 7-11 overall. Wenatchee improved to 1-2 and 4-12.

Walla Walla travels to Spokane Wednesday and returns home next Saturday to host Big Bend in a pair of regional counters.