OREGON CITY, Ore. — Walla Walla Community College’s men’s basketball team is on a bit of a roll.
The Warriors defeated host Clackamas 102-86 here Friday in the championship game of the Clackamas Holiday Tournament and will take a five-game winning streak and plenty of momentum to Spokane Wednesday for their Northwest Athletic Conference East Region opener.
“It’s a good feeling going into league,” Reinland said after his team won for the third time in as many days to improve to 9-3 on the season. “But we know it’s going to be tough. We have nine teams in the East and six of them have winning records.”
The Sasquatch await the Warriors with an 11-2 record and are among the favorites to claim this year’s division title.
“We feel we can beat anyone on any given night,” Reinland said. “This is a good group that plays hard every night, even when things aren’t going as well as we would like. We have them through that sulking period and they understand that they are not going to play well every night.”
And even though the Warriors rolled up 102 points Friday after defeating Linn-Benton 94-67 in the first round and Everett 92-83 in the semifinals, Reinland thinks his team can play better.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well at all and we still scored 102 points,” he said. “In fact, we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well this whole week.”
WWCC made 44 percent of its shots from the field Friday (35-for-80) and shot just 24 percent (9-for-37) from 3-point distance. The Warriors did knock down 25-of-29 free throws in the game (86 percent).
Freshman guard Landon Radliff led the way with 22 points as all five Warriors starters finished in double figures. Gabe Porter tallied 21 points, Caulin Bakalarski added 18, Dalton Thompson contributed 13 and Beau Tilleman chipped in with 12.
Bakalarski, who missed the Everett game after spraining his ankle the day before, also powered to 11 rebounds, followed by Tilleman with nine. Radliff dished out a game-high five assists.
Isaiah Gentry scored 17 points, Nygil Carr and Simon Stringer added 14 points each and Ryun Gibson scored 10 for the Storm, who were held to 33 percent shooting from the field, were outrebounded 48-42 and turned the ball over 16 times.
“The thing I am most impressed with after this tournament is our defense, especially in the half-court,” Reinland said. “A lot of the points these teams scored on us were off of turnovers or on quick shots after long rebounds. Our half-court defense was really solid.”
Reinland would like to see his team do a better job of protecting leads. The Warriors built a 19-point lead with about 12 minutes to play Friday but allowed Chemeketa to cut the difference to just four points at the six-minute mark.
“Once again we blew a big lead,” Reinland said. “Fortunately we came back and hit some big 3’s and that kind of took the wind out of their sails.”
The Warriors have been playing in the Clackamas tournament for more than a decade, Reinland noted, and Friday they won it for the first time.
“We made it to the championship game four other times and lost,” he said. “But we like this tournament because it helps get us ready for league play.”