Courtesy of Jim Buchan of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
WALLA WALLA — The energy that was missing in Wednesday’s 52-47 loss at Yakima reappeared Saturday night in the Dietrich Dome.
“We brought way more intensity to this game,” Walla Walla coach Bobbi Hazeltine said after her Warriors defeated Wenatchee 68-53 in an NWAACC Eastern Region women’s basketball game. “What you saw today was the product of the Yakima loss when we played with no emotion.
“I thought we made good progress today,” she added. “I’m very proud of the way we played, night and day different from Wednesday’s game.”
The Warriors led the Knights wire-to-wire in improving to 8-6 overall and 2-1 in the NWAACC East. Wenatchee’s record slid to 0-4 and 8-11.
“Wenatchee’s a good team,” Hazeltine said. “They played Columbia Basin tough Wednesday (a 64-53 Hawks victory) and Columbia Basin is the class of the league. Wenatchee beat good teams during the preseason and has played the toughest league schedule so far.
“We were worried about them. We were concerned.”
Jessica Siler and Devynn Johnson scored two baskets each and Josie Jordan came off the bench to drain WWCC’s first 3-pointer of the game as the Warriors scored 11 unanswered points to take a 19-5 lead midway in the first half. Bailey Nygaard knocked down two more treys and a pair of free throws, MeShel Rad converted two layins and Karli McHone stroked a 3-pointer and Walla Walla went to the intermission up 36-24.
The Knights closed to within six points, 45-39, on a pair of free throws by Shaeanna Jones with 14:04 on the second-half clock. But McHone and Nygaard hit back-to-back 3-pointers, plus two free throws each, and Amy DeLong got inside for two points as WWCC used a 12-0 run to build its biggest lead of the game, 57-39, with 8:58 to play.
After a basket by Wenatchee’s Charity Degman made it a 16-point game, Siler split a pair of free throws and then scored a layin off a pass from DeLong for a 60-41 advantage with 6:02 to go that was WWCC’s biggest lead of the night.
Wenatchee never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Nygaard led the Warriors with 16 points and Siler and McHone finished with 13 each. McHone and Josie Jordan came off the bench to combine for 5-of-12 shooting from 3-point distance and give the Warriors a needed spark.
“Those two girls came off the bench and played very well for us.” Hazeltine said. “We have eight or nine kids who can start for us at any given time. We have been changing our lineup a lot just looking for the right combinations.”
The Knights’ Gasseling led all scorers with 17 points and Michelle Bromagem and Jones added 11 points each.
The teams battled even on the boards, with Jones snaring 12 for the Knights and DeLong leading the Warriors with 12.
Walla Walla’s defense held the Knights to 17-for-61 shooting from the floor.
“For the first 10 minutes I thought our zone defense was really good,” Hazeltine said. “But Wenatchee can shoot and move the ball, and we had to match up (man to man) because they were making way too many 3s.”
The Warriors will be back in action Monday at 1 p.m. when they entertain Treasure Valley in the Dietrich Dome. The Chukars were scheduled to play at Walla Walla last Saturday but the game was postponed because of a high-wind warning.