When you’re hot you’re hot, and the Warriors were red-hot Wednesday night in the Dietrich Dome.
Walla Walla sank a school-record 24 3-point shots and overwhelmed visiting Blue Mountain 124-66 in the NWAC East Region men’s basketball mismatch. The Warriors drained 62 percent of their shots from the floor overall and 57 percent from 3-point distance as they won their third straight game and improved to 5-2 in the region and 11-9 overall.
“We were pretty wide open most of the game,” WWCC coach Jeff Reinland said. “I think they were really focusing on shutting down Jake (Albright) in the post, and he did a nice job of kicking the ball out.
“We got a lot of open looks early, and we made them.”
Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Damen Thacker’s 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting overall and 4-for-5 from outside the arc. David Howard snapped out of a shooting slump by hitting six of his nine 3-point attempts and finishing with 20 points.
Wyatt Hardin and Kyler Villarreal came off the bench and scored 19 and 16 points, respectively, and starting guard Forrest Smith chipped in with 14.
Albright managed eight points on 4-for-6 shooting and led the Warriors with 11 rebounds. Smith picked off 10 missed shots and led the team with nine assists as he nearly achieved a triple-double.
Mekhi Foreman led the ‘Wolves with 25 points and Dante Clayton and Hayden Hibbard-Brooks added 11 points each.
Blue Mountain saw its record dip to 2-5 in league play and 4-14 overall. Reinland said there was no chance his players would be overlooking Blue Mountain despite its losing record.
“We’d been talking about that since we got on the bus coming back from Big Bend,” the coach said, referencing Monday’s 85-76 win in Moses Lake. “Blue Mountain played Spokane (6-2, 15-6) tough on Monday and they have some nice pieces. And they played us well at times.”
Wednesday’s 24 3-pointers eclipsed the previous record of 23 treys that WWCC sank against Lower Columbia College in a non-league game in Longview during the Warriors’ 2017 NWAC championship run.
The Warriors travel to Pasco Saturday to close out the first round of league play against a Columbia Basin team that is 1-6 in the region and 4-15 overall. A victory would move the Warriors to 6-2 at the midway point with five of their final eight region games in the Dietrich Dome.
“We have to keep everything in perspective, but I am hoping we are at a stage where we make that last push to get a little bit better,” Reinland said. “You only get so much better over the course of the season, and I feel like we have leveled out the last 10 games.
“Last night I felt like we had the energy and the focus and came out ready to play. I am hoping we can build on that and take that last step.”
Article by Jim Buchan of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin