Going into last Friday’s Northwest Athletic Conference East Region home game against Wenatchee, Walla Walla coach Bobbi Hazeltine knew her team was up against it.
Because of a weather-related postponement two nights earlier, the Warriors were being asked to play four key women’s basketball games in a span of six days.
“We were hoping to win the majority of those games but I didn’t know if we could get all four of them,” Hazeltine said following Wednesday’s nights 69-58 victory over North Idaho College in the Dietrich Dome.
The victory over the Cardinals did exactly that, however. The Warriors knocked off Wenatchee 64-44, defeated Big Bend 78-55 the following night in the dome and then went on the road Monday and came away with a 64-62 victory over Yakima
Wednesday’s win boosts WWCC’s region record to 4-1 and its overall mark to 11-3. North Idaho, new to the NWAC this year, slipped to 1-3 and 8-7.
“To get four wins in six days is a big credit to the girls,” Hazeltine said. “They just kept plugging along, stayed focused and carried out a game plan. They are doing everything we are asking of them.”
But the coach isn’t through asking. Now she’d like her team to make in five wins in eight days when the Warriors travel to Pendleton Saturday to take on a Blue Mountain team that is so far winless in East Region play.
“Five wins in eight days sounds really good,” Hazeltine said. “But the biggest thing here is we get two days not playing a game. We will use that and give them a little bit of a rest. We have three or four girls who have played a lot of minutes and have tired legs, and the entire team is tired mentally. We need to get back on schedule.”
After an off night Monday in Yakima, Cierra Jo McKeown resumed her torrid scoring pace to lead the Warriors offensively Wednesday night. McKeown sank 12-of-19 shots from the floor, connected on 4-of-8 3-point shots and scored 28 points.
No other Warrior finished in double figures, but McKeown had plenty of help nonetheless. Emily Hancock tallied nine points, Jade Skidmore and Teresa Acock scored seven points each, Kate Ferenz and Makenzie Reddish added six points apiece and Cheyan James, Kortney Hutchinson and Adrianna Peralez each chipped in two points.
Cierra Dvorak scored 19 points and Lana Berg 18 for the Cardinals. Shayna Allert, who played for the Warriors last year and would have battled McKeown for playing time had she not transferred to North Idaho, was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting.
The Warriors led 18-13 after one quarter and built a 45-25 halftime lead on the strength of a 27-point second quarter. The Cardinals rallied in the second half but never drew closer than seven points.
“We knew they would come back and of course they did,” Hazeltine said. “More than anything we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The girls got a little tight, and that is my fault. We should have continued to attack instead of trying to take time off the clock.”
The Warriors outrebounded the Cardinals 52-45, and Skidmore, the freshman point guard, led the way with 10 rebounds. She also finished with a game-high five assists.
“Everyone has their role,” Hazeltine said. “Jade is our point guard and runs the offense, but she has also become our rebounding leader. When we start to get some scoring out of her, it will be a bonus.”
Hazeltine also noted that McKeown played her best defensive game of the year by holding Allert scoreless. And she credited James and Acock for providing important minutes off the bench.
Blue Mountain, which drew a bye Wednesday, is 0-5 in league games and 2-10 overall. But Hazeltine doesn’t want her players overlooking the Timberwolves.
“The scary thing is they haven’t won a league game,” the coach said. “They’ve had some kids hurt and they’ve played some teams tough. We have go into their house expecting them to be ready, and we have to be ready.”