Bobbi Hazeltine was prepared to walk out of the gym with a loss Wednesday night.
Her Walla Walla Community College women’s basketball team trailed host Columbia Basin College by 13 points in the third quarter, and shots weren’t falling.
But the Warriors never gave in. They rallied to post a 66-64 victory to secure the East Region title and run their win streak to school record 24 games.
“We knew that would happen,” Hazeltine said of being pushed by the Hawks. “They were good. We have a few matchup issues with them. Zach (CBC coach Wilde) is doing a great job with them. He coaches to their strengths and he knows how to defend us.”
That defense included Sabin Keo and Momo Calzadillas sticking to WWCC’s Cierra Jo McKeown like glue. McKeown finished with a game-high 26 points, including six 3-pointers, but Wilde was more concerned about letting others score.
“Cierra Jo can shoot from anywhere,” Wilde said. “We needed to stop the other players. That’s what it comes down to, a good team and a well-coached team will execute.”
The Hawks (20-8, 11-4 East) led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, and by eight going into the fourth.
The teams traded baskets for a 60-52 CBC lead with 8:39 remaining, then neither team scored for 3 1/2 minutes.
The Warriors (26-1, 14-0 East) then went on a 9-4 run to pull within 64-61 with 2:14 left on the clock.
Teresa Acock (DeSales) drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the score, and it was a nail biter from there.
“We knew we had to run our plays,” said McKeown, a Touchet native. “We were panicking a bit. I think CBC is one of the better teams we have played, and they know how to get to us.”
Keo, who led CBC with 19 points, missed both ends of a two-shot foul with 1:08 to play, and the Hawks had a shot clock violation with 20.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Walla Walla took the ball up the court for one last shot, which came from Adrianna Peralez with 1.7 seconds left for a 66-64 lead.
“We let her get to the basket,” Wilde said. “But we had our chances, there are 60 possessions a game. We missed a couple of free throws toward the end, we had a couple of shots go in and out, and even though we didn’t have many turnovers (6), there were about four that cost us.”
Hazeltine said despite the score at halftime, her team refused to break.
“We have not been pushed like that in a long time,” Hazeltine said. “We needed that. It kinda looked like we would lose. Sometimes a loss going into the (NWAC) tournament isn’t a bad thing.”
The Warriors got eight points from McKeown in taking an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Hawks, led by six points from Keo and five from Sara Ramirez (Hermiston), went on a 21-13 run in the second to even things at 31-all at the half.
Then, the Hawks went wild in the third quarter behind 10 points from Alexis Castro. At one point, they went on a 13-0 run to take a 49-40 lead. Their biggest lead was 55-42, but the Warriors rallied with an 8-3 run to pull within 58-50 at the end of the quarter.
McKeown had 16 of her points in the second half, including 11 points in the third and five in the fourth.
“Cierra Jo is a gamer,” Hazeltine said. “When the game is on the line, she takes over. I thought Jade (Skidmore) played a huge second half, and Teresa (Acock) hit a couple of big 3s for us.”
WWCC: Cierra Jo McKeown 26, Acock 9, Skidmore 16, Hutchison 4, Peralez 6, Andrews 2, Gunter 3, Turner, Dietrich-Denton. Totals: 26-43 5-5 66.
CBC: Sabin Keo 19, Fiander 8, Castro 13, Graham-Bernisto 5, Ramirez 12, Caldzdillas, Baham 2, Hossfed 5. Totals: 27-58 2-6 64.
Highlights — McKeown 6-11 3-pointers, 7 rebs; Jade Skidmore 6 rebs, 5 assts; Kortney Hutchison 6 rebs; Keo 4 stls; Sara Ramirez 4 rebs, 4 assts.