Walla Walla Community College’s women’s basketball team went a perfect 3-0 in a Northwest Athletic Conference crossover tournament it hosted over the weekend in the Dietrich Dome.
The Warriors — playing without Miaja Mills — produced their crowning achievement Sunday afternoon, Dec. 19 — a gutty and gritty 61-58 victory over previously undefeated Lower Columbia.
“This tournament was so good for us,” said WWCC coach Bobbi Hazeltine, whose team is now 7-2 and riding a seven-game winning streak. “We knew (after a season-opening loss to Peninsula) that we had a lot of work to do. We’re getting better.”
The Red Devils (10-1) pitchforked their way to a 10-2 lead two-and-a-half minutes after the opening tip.
But Walla Walla retaliated by outscoring LCC 17-6 the remainder of the period and led 19-16 after 10 minutes.
The Warriors extended the lead to 12 at the 1:36 mark of the second quarter and took a 10-point advantage into halftime, 34-24.
Brie Holecek paced WWCC in the first half with 11 points. Teammates Taycee Harper and Kortney Trappett added six points apiece.
“They extended pressure and we took them out of it right away,” Hazeltine said. “We worked (in a pre-game shoot around) on how to break their full-court pressure “
Walla Walla withstood a Red Devil charge in the third quarter and led 49-40 after three.
Holecek converted a 3-point play at the outset of the last period that pushed the Warriors’ margin to 12, 52-40.
“We’ve installed a half-court, back-cutting offense,” Hazeltine said. “We did some things well offensively.”
Lower Columbia charged back and trailed by one, 59-58, in the closing seconds.
“We knew they’d come back,” Hazeltine said. “They are the best team we’ve seen.”
Harper provided her team with breathing room by sinking two free throws with 6.3 seconds left.
“Those were big free throws,” Hazeltine said.
LCC had a final chance to tie. But a right-wing 3 by Michaela Harris missed the mark and the Warriors let loose with a big sigh of relief.
“That was not the look they wanted,” Hazeltine said. “We did a good job switching out on every screen. We defended well I thought.
“Taycee and Emmie Ogden (at the defensive end of the court) played really well,” Hazeltine said.
In earlier action on Sunday, Linn-Benton outlasted Shoreline, 66-58.
“All three (LCC, LBCC, and SCC) will be in the NWAC tournament,” Hazeltine said. “This was such a good tournament for us. We’ve gotten a lot better.”
The Warriors next outing will be their Eastern Region opener. They host Big Bend on Jan. 5.