At the beginning of the season, the Tri-City Herald came out with its basketball preview and had Walla Walla projected as the last place finisher in the CBBN 4A.
It was more a reflection of what the Blue Devils lost to graduation — first-team all-state guard Gary Winston and two-time all-CBBN first-teamer Michael Weisner — than what they had. It certainly gave me no pleasure to type their name in that final spot. Walla Walla is one of the area's great basketball schools with a rich tradition, and a league battle with the Blue Devils always holds a little more meaning.
This year, I just didn't see them fighting for a league title.
But I'm happy to say that Walla Walla has proved the Herald wrong. The Blue Devils lost to Chiawana on Saturday, but even after the loss, they are still an even 6-6 with a 3-2 record in the CBBN 4A. That's good enough to hold third place for now.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
The way Wa-Hi played against Chiawana, they could have easily pulled this one out, and Riverhawks coach Chad Herron knew it.
"(Coach) John (Golden) has tough kids who compete. They defend well and help each other," Herron said.
Above all, I've been impressed with their heart. They always seem to be in the right spot to make a play, and they never give up.
One particular play that stood out was when Chiawana's Kyler DeWitt came down with a defensive rebound, but Walla Walla's Marshall Dunovant just ripped the ball away from him under the basket for the turnover.
"I heard early on that we were supposed to finish last, but I see us as a Cinderella story. We know how to play together," said senior guard Alex Ceron.