Courtesy of the Walla Walla-Union Bulletin
WALLA WALLA — With around seven minutes remaining and a comfortable 21-point lead, it appeared the Walla Walla Community College men’s basketball team would take an easy NWAACC East Region win against visiting Yakima Valley on Tuesday.
Instead, the Yaks cut down the Waarrior lead to single digits before ultimately falling, 98-94.
“They started pressing us and we turned the ball over a bit, and the next thing we know we’re in a dogfight,” Warrior coach Jeff Reinland said. “(We were) pretty fortunate to get out of there with a win.”
After applying the full-court press late in the second half, Yakima Valley forced most of Walla Walla’s 12 turnovers in the game, Reinland said.
After point guard Satchel Schetzle cramped on a drive to the hoop, the Warriors (11-12, 4-5 in NWAACC East) were left without a bona fide ballhandler capable of beating the Yaks’ press.
“They had whittled into the lead a little bit already, but when (Schetzle) went out, we didn’t handle the pressure very well,” Reinland said. “Then we put him back in and he cramped up again. He was able to finish the game, but it got pretty scary.”
Walla Walla jumped out to a 14-point lead at halftime, as the Warriors knocked 11 of their 14 total 3-pointers during the opening half.
Prince Lacey led the WWCC barrage in the first half with five treys of his own during the first 20 minutes. He finished with 25 points, including seven longballs.
At the same clip, Yakima Valley could only connect on one 3-pointer, as Reinland said WWCC did an excellent job defending the perimeter in its man-to-man defense.
“He just came in and gave us a big lift,” Reinland said of Lacey. “He shot the ball well and got us going.”
With Lacey extending the defense, Schetzle knifed through the Yakima Valley defense to the tune of 27 points on 8-of-20 shooting. He knocked down three 3s of his own, but his game-high seven assists proved to be more beneficial to the Warriors’ offense.
Walla Walla assisted on 17 of its 32 field goals, with Dallas Reich adding three dimes of his own.
“We passed the ball pretty well last night for the most part, and that’s been a little bit of an issue lately,” Reinland said. “It was nice to see us share the ball last night and hopefully we can continue it.”
Joel Underdahl also came up with 14 points for Walla Walla on 5-of-5 shooting. Joel YellowOwl led the Yaks with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
The Warriors square off with Wenatchee Valley on Saturday.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game and they are always very tough up there,” Reinland said. “It’s going to be a battle for us. Our kids are going to have to be ready to play and it’s always a tough shooting environment up there.”