Pasco boys fall in return to district basketball playoffs

by jack Millikin, Herald staff writerFebruary 8, 2013 

Pasco’s boys basketball season didn’t end the way the Bulldogs wanted it to. Not by a longshot.

A second-half comeback attempt fizzled as Pasco shot just 19 percent (6-for-31) over the final 16 minutes, including one of several missed layups just before the final buzzer, capping a 58-48 loss to visiting Walla Walla.

But the fans wobbled anyway.

With the memories of the Bulldogs’ first playoff appearance since 2009 fresh in their mind, close to 100 fans young and old took over the hardwood for an enthusiastic rendition of the well-known line dance.

“I told my guys, you brought something back to the crowd they haven’t seen here in a long time,” Pasco coach Charlie Villanueva said after the game. “It’s funny with this group, you can never count them out. Even with 7 minutes left and down by 15, I was like, whatever, we got this.”

The Blue Devils, however, were not willing to partake of Villanueva’s happy vision.

While the Bulldogs struggled to find passing lanes and clean shots, the Blue Devils (14-8) kept finding the hot hand at the right time and controlled the boards, outrebounding Pasco 40-26.

Walla Walla’s reward for its second playoff victory? A berth in the District 5 Tournament championship at 8 p.m. today at Richland (16-4). Both teams will advance to the District 5/8 Tournament beginning Friday.

“We haven’t done anything easy this year,” Blue Devils coach John Golden said. “Pasco was playing awfully well. Our guys hung in there. I was proud of them.”

The Blue Devils are 0-2 against Richland this season, falling 80-75 in overtime at Walla Walla on Jan. 5 and losing 83-61 three weeks later at Art Dawald Gym.

“They’re well coached and they have a lot of offensive weapons. That’s a huge task,” Golden said. “We’ve got to try and slow them down. Only a couple teams have been able to do that all year. Hopefully we’ll be able to.”

Gabe Porter drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored two more on a pull-up jumper during a 10-0 Wa-Hi run, giving the Blue Devils a 12-2 lead with 1:29 left in the first frame.

Porter finished with 14 of his 15 points in the first half, draining four treys. When he stopped scoring, Eric Klicker picked things up, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half as Walla Walla built its lead to 45-32 by the end of the third quarter.

“I was feeling it some, and guys did a good job hitting me,” Klicker said. “We just had to take care of the ball and be smart.”

Tanner Cranor, Wa-Hi’s 6-foot-8 senior post, was a picture of consistency, scoring 15 points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds — four of them on the offensive glass.

“Cranor played a big part. All week, we focused on double teaming him, and we did a good job in the first half,” said Pasco senior guard Julian Figueroa, who finished with 10 points. “Gabe came in and played very well for them. When we focused on him, they started going back to Cranor.”

De’Drain Miller led the Bulldogs with 12 points and five steals. The senior transfer scored nine points and had four steals in the second quarter, pulling Pasco to within 21-19 after going coast to coast for a layup after a steal on the other end.

The Bulldogs hit 6-of-12 shots in the second quarter but went 9-of-44 in the other three quarters. Pasco also made just 15 of 28 (53.5 percent) from the free throw line.

“It was just one of those days where there seemed to be a lid on the basket,” Figueroa said. “But the crowd was great. We really fed off them, and we were glad everybody came to support us.”

WALLA WALLA — Klicker 13, Gabe Porter 15, Eggart 2, Arias 10, Tanner Cranor 15, Toon, Tonney 1, Warinner, Gilmore 2. Totals 23-53 7-18 58.
PASCO — Brown 9, Arroyo 4, Julian Figueroa 10, Cardoza 3, De’Drain Miller 12, Ballardo, Torres 9, Young, Cruz 1. Totals 15-56 15-28 48.
Walla Walla 14 12 19 13 — 58
Pasco 6 16 10 16 — 48
Highlights — 3-pointers: WW 5 (Porter 4, Klicker), P 2 (Miller, Torres); Rebounds: WW 40 (Cranor 12), P 26 (Torres 9); Turnovers: WW 17, P 7; Steals: WW 5 (Arias, Eggart, Cranor, Porter, Klicker), P 9 (Miller 5); Eggart 5 assists, 6 rebs; Arias 9 rebs, 2 blocks; Torres 2 blocks.

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