YAKIMA — So far, so good.
Even though it isn’t leaning on the 3-point shot quite as heavily as coach Bobbi Hazeltine anticipated, her Walla Walla Community College women’s basketball team will take a 3-0 record into its annual Thanksgiving week layoff.
The Warriors completed a sweep of a trio of Northwest Athletic Conference rivals here Sunday with a 74-54 victory over Treasure Valley in the championship game of Yakima Valley’s season-opening tipoff tournament
Walla Walla got its season underway here Friday with a rousing 98-68 victory over Tacoma and followed up Saturday with a 66-58 semifinal victory over Chemeketa.
The Warriors knocked down 14-of-26 3-point shots in Friday’s victory, but they were a chilly 2-for-22 Saturday and made 6-of-19 from behind the arc in Sunday’s championship game. Perhaps surprisingly, the Warriors won the rebounding battle in all three games.
“We have a lot of tiny guards who are getting in there and getting rebounds,” Hazeltine said. “Maybe it’s not as big a concern as I thought.”
Freshman guard Jade Skidmore led WWCC rebounders in Friday’s win, and she and sophomore wing Kate Ferenz shared the lead Saturday. Emily Hancock, WWCC’s 6-foot sophomore post, took over Sunday, leading the Warriors with nine rebounds.
Hancock also contributed 14 points after a 17-point game in Saturday’s semifinal.
“Last year she would have a big game now and then,” Hazeltine said of Hancock. “Now she’s had back-to-back big games. She also had several blocked shots Sunday and is a very nice defensive presence in there for us.”
Freshman guard Cierra Jo McKeown led the way offensively Sunday with 24 points on 10-for-20 shooting from the field, including a 4-for-11 night from outside the 3-point line. McKeown exploded on the scene with 34 points Friday and had a 12-point game Saturday.
“She just knows how to score,” Hazeltine said of McKeown. “After her first three games as a college basketball player, you can just tell she is a player.
Skidmore was a third Warrior in double figures Sunday with 12 points. Freshman guards Mackenzie Reddish and Kortney Hutchinson contributed nine and eight points, respectively.
Ferenz, who was WWCC’s leading scorer last year before an knee injury ended her season in early January, was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting.
“What I like is that Kate didn’t score and we still won the game,” Hazeltine said. “She’s a smart player and she knows what to do.”
Ferenz led the Warriors with four assists and collected five rebounds.
Hazeltine also gave freshman guard Teresa Acock high marks Sunday.
“She came off the bench and easily had her best game,” the coach said of Acock, who scored five points, snagged four rebounds and was credited with one assist in her 17 minutes on the floor. “She played great defense and gave us some huge minutes. She is beginning to understand the pace of college basketball.
“I like the direction the team is heading,” Hazeltine added. “Sunday was a good test against a quality opponent. Having so many new kids, this team has jelled pretty well.”
The players went their separate ways for Thanksgiving following Sunday’s game. They will reconvene one week from today and begin preparations for the Warrior Classic Dec. 2-3 in the Dietrich Dome.
The Warriors will be matched against Pacific University’s junior varsity squad the first night and will take on Mount Hood the second.