BELLEVUE — Jeff Reinland talked up his team’s defensive play here Sunday after Walla Walla defeated Bellevue 92-71 in the championship game of the Bulldog Classic men’s community college basketball tournament.
But the Warriors’ offense wasn’t too shabby, either, as they won for the third time in three days to push their season record to 4-3 heading into an NWAC crossover tournament at South Puget Sound in Olympia beginning Thursday.
WWCC shot 53 percent from the field, 63 percent from behind the 3-point line and made 14-of-18 free throws in defeating the host Bulldogs. Bellevue was held to 37 percent shooting from the floor and saw its season record dip to 5-4.
“Our point of emphasis going into this tournament was that we needed to play better defense, and we played really good ‘D’ over the course of the three days,” Reinland said. “We played good team defense and pretty good individual defense.
“Every team in this tournament came in with a big scorer. We certainly didn’t shut those guys down, but we kept them under control in all three games.”
Walla Walla reached Sunday’s championship game by defeating Shoreline 91-58 on Friday and downing Highline 76-72 in Saturday’s semifinals. Bellevue opened with a 71-66 victory over Wenatchee and defeated Chemeketa 79-72 in the second round.
Highline downed Chemeketa 75-70 in Sunday’s third-place game and Shoreline topped Wenatchee 84-77 to claim fourth place.
Walla Walla’s Devan Kohn, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, led the way Sunday with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor. Roman McKnight and Jarid Downey tallied 20 points each and Darrian Caffaro-Briggs was a fourth Warrior in double figures with 16 points.
McKnight also picked off 16 rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team. Caffaro-Briggs was 6-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.
“This was our best offensive game of the tournament,” Reinland said of Sunday’s victory. “We played with a little more patience and didn’t take quite as many 3s. We are growing up a little bit every day and we actually looked like we learned some things this past week.”
Jordan Muir-Kueng led Bellevue in scoring with 17 points Sunday.
Walla Walla will face Skagit Valley Thursday in the first round of the crossover in Olympia and take on either Mount Hood or host South Puget Sound during the Friday’s second round of the three-day tournament.
“The field will be tough,” Reinland said. “Skagit Valley is very good and we draw them first, and then it will be either the host team or a Mount Hood team that has already beaten us on our home court. So it’s going to be tough. But we are playing better, and we will have Payton Radiff with us for the first time.”
Radliff, a sophomore shooting guard and one of WWCC’s top scorers a year ago, missed the first seven games of the season because of academic ineligibility.