For 20 minutes Saturday, Jeff Reinland and his band of eight Walla Walla Warriors matched Chemeketa shot for shot at the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges mens basketball tournament in the Toyota Center.
Walla Walla even went into the locker room with a 36-33 lead when Eric Harr sank a 3-point field goal with under a second remaining.
But the Warriors were facing Chemeketa, David Abderhaldens sophomore-laden club that made it all the way to the NWAACC title game last season before losing to Tacoma.
And when the second half began, the Storm opened with an 11-0 run that gave it the lead for good in a 78-70 first-round victory.
We felt against their zone defense wed become stagnant, said Abderhalden. And we needed to become more aggressive on defense.
So they took it to the hole, and Gavin Kauffman, Jacob Begin, Trevor Phillips and Andrew Saba all contributed points in that key 11-0 run.
The first three are sophomores.
I think the first half was just probably nerves, said the 6-foot-7 Phillips, who is a Hermiston High graduate. Its our first game of the tournament. Once everything fell into place, we calmed down.
And Walla Walla, which lives by the 3-point shot, couldnt get the ball to fall in the second half.
I think defensively we did a good job overall, said Reinland. They are a team that averages 90 points a game. So we slowed them down.
But the bottom line is we shot 6 for 29 from the 3-point line, he added. Weve got to win a game like this. The game comes down to getting the ball in the hole. Its been real hit and miss with us this season.
Walla Walla which entered the tournament with a 13-13 record could only hit 2 of 12 trey attempts in the second half.
We had some open shots that just didnt go in, said Walla Wallas Case Rada, a Kamiakin High School graduate who scored a game-high 23 points. And they made some tough shots. We had our hands in their face and they were still making them.
Phillips, with friends and family in the building cheering him on, finished with a team-high 19 points for the Storm, which has a quarterfinal rematch with Tacoma at 2 p.m. today.
Trevor has had a great year, said Abderhalden of the South Region MVP. He has stayed way more consistent.
Kauffman added 16 points for Chemeketa, which is aiming to return to the title game with nine sophomores from last season.
Its real helpful having them, said Abderhalder. They know what to expect. There is no shock when they get on this floor.
Rada added seven assists, while Richland High grad Dylan Radliff added 12 points and seven assists, and Austin Nooner had 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Warriors will play Peninsula in a loser-out contest at 10 a.m. today.
WALLA WALLA Dylan Radliff 5-17 1-3 12, Case Rada 8-20 4-4 23, Dallas Reich 0-3 0-0 0, Eric Harr 2-7 1-2 6, Austin Nooner 7-8 2-4 16, Dahrius Mills 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter Hahn 5-10 0-0 11, Morgan Scharf 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-66 8-13 70.
CHEMEKETA Anadrew Saba 2-8 0-1 6, Jacob Begin 3-3 2-2 9, Gavin Kauffman 8-16 0-0 16, Jonny Howard 2-6 1-2 5, Trevor Phillips 7-11 5-7 19, Taylor Branch 1-1 0-0 2, Calvin Molan 5-10 0-1 11, Jordan Bately 2-4 0-0 4, Justin Hutt 0-0 0-0 0, Bradley Prazeau 3-4 0-0 6, Rodney Nelson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 33-65 8-13 78.
Halftime WWCC 36-33. 3-point goalsWW 6-29 (Rada 3-12, Radliff 1-4, Hahn 1-5, Harr 1-5, Reich 0-3), Chem 4-19 (Saba 2-5, Begin 1-1, Molan 1-5, Nelson 0-2, Howard 0-2, Kauffman 0-3). ReboundsWW 30 (Nooner 9), Chem 38 (Kauffman 8). AssistsWW 16 (Rada 7, Radliff 7), Chem 18 (Kauffman 5). TurnoversWW 9, Chem 11. FoulsWW 14, Chem 8.