Wa-Hi girls top Chiawana, force MCC playoff

February 1, 2013 

Mikayla Ferenz looked calm on the outside, but trust her, she was freaking out on the inside.

The Walla Walla sophomore stepped to the foul line with no time left in a tie game on rival Chiawana’s home floor with a share of the Mid-Columbia Conference hanging in the balance.

Just as she has practiced thousands of times, her arcing shot hit nothing but net, setting off a wild celebration by the Blue Devils’ bench as they escaped Pasco with a 46-45 victory Friday.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I was having a heart attack. When I made it, I was so happy.”

The victory means the teams split the regular season title, and they will play again at 7 p.m. today in Walla Walla to decide who will be the No. 1 seed to the Class 4A District 5 Tournament.

Ferenz was fouled on an inbounds play as the clock expired, sending the Chiawana crowd into a frenzy. Walla Walla had gotten a rebound with seven-tenths of a second remaining, and after a timeout threw a half-court pass that Ferenz and Chiawana’s Braydey Hodgins reached for.

“Everyone will say it came down to that final play,” Chiawana coach Steve Davis said. “But it was not making shots, or missing block outs or being slow to rotate on defense that cost us the game.”

Walla Walla seemed to be in command, leading 44-38 with less than 2 minutes to play, but Chiawana’s Delaney Hodgins took over.

She hit a 3-pointer with 1:17 left to make it 44-41. After a Maddy Sirmon free throw, Hodgins made two of her own and then stole an inbounds pass and laid it in to tie the game at 45-45 with 55 seconds left.

“When they caught up, we were nervous and just had to calm down,” Walla Walla’s Madi Doepker said. “We haven’t beat Chiawana in a really long time. It’s really, really nice. This is what we’ve been wanting for so long.”

The Blue Devils got there despite nearly giving the game away.

Senior Torri Crawford missed two free throws with 24 seconds left, giving Chiawana a chance for the victory.

Jennifer Gonzales missed a 3-pointer for the Riverhawks, and the ball bounced out of bounds off Chiawana, setting up the wild finish.

“It was a foul, but I may have exaggerated a little,” Ferenz said. “We were all really nervous and frantic, but we had it in us (to win). It was ugly, but it’s so great. Our seniors had never beat Chiawana. We’re ecstatic.”

The Blue Devils looked as though they were going to blow the Riverhawks out of the gym early in the third quarter.

Walla Walla went on a 15-0 run spanning the end of the second and the start of the third quarter, taking a 31-22 lead. The run included an 11-0 burst to open the second half.

“We told them we have to not be tentative,” Walla Walla coach Jill Meliah said. “It seemed like we were shutting ourselves down (in the first half).”

Doepker came out extremely aggressive, scoring seven points in the third quarter. With Chiawana struggling to score, the game appeared over until Hodgins took over.

She scored 12 of her team’s final 16 points, including hitting three 3-pointers and getting the improbable steal and lay-in.

“That’s what Delaney does,” Davis said. “She has to carry us, but we only had one kid score. We can’t have that again.”

The two teams now must shake off their collective emotions and come back tonight and do it all over again.

The winner not only gets the No. 1 seed to the District 5 Tournament, but an automatic berth into the District 5/8 Tournament against the Greater Spokane League teams.

Meliah is hoping the nature of Friday’s win helps spur her young team onto greater heights in the coming weeks.

“I’m hoping the confidence of this win will help us stay focused,” she said. “We have loftier goals in mind.”

Doepker’s 15 points and 11 rebounds led Walla Walla. Ferenz and Sirmon added 10 points each.

Hodgins poured in 30 points, including making 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. She also had a team-high eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

WALLA WALLA — Madi Doepker 5 5-7 15, Kate Ferenz 3 0-0 6, Mikayla Ferenz 2 5-5 10, Torri Crawford 2 1-3 5, Maddy Sirmon 2 6-8 10, Jaiden Hodnefield 0 0-0 0, Allie Greene 0 0-0 0, Kiana Molitor 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 17-23 46.
CHIAWANA — Delaney Hodgins 9 9-9 30, Cierah Alferness 0 2-2 2, Bianca Gonzales 0 2-6 2, Molly Sullivan 0 2-2 2, Jennifer Gonzales 1 0-0 2, Sierra Perez 1 0-0 3, Darbi Pink 0 0-0 0, Braydey Hodgins 2 0-0 4, Bailey Cartwright 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 15-19 45.
Walla Walla 8 12 14 12 — 46
Chiawana 11 11 10 13 — 45
3-point goals — Walla Walla 1 (M. Ferenz), Chiawana 4 (D. Hodgins 3, Perez). Rebounds — Walla Walla 43 (Doepker 11), Chiawana 33 (D. Hodgins 8). Total fouls — Walla Walla 11, Chiawana 20. Fouled out — Chiawana, B. Hodgins. Turnovers — Walla Walla 15, Chiawana 11.

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