Six-foot-5 power forward Jander Cline scored a game-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Walla Walla Community College here on Wednesday, but from beyond the 3-point arc, the Warriors converted only 7 of 25 attempts.
Treasure Valley took advantage, taking their Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball East Region matchup with an 83-77 defeat of WWCC.
Now having lost the last three games, Wednesday’s setback inched sixth-place WWCC (10-14 overall, 4-8 in the East) closer to falling short of qualifying for the playoffs a year after finishing as the NWAC runnerup.
Only four games remain in the WWCC regular season, starting with a rematch against fourth-place Treasure Valley on Monday in Ontario, Ore., as a makeup for their Jan. 15 postponement due to blizzard conditions.
“I think if we win at least three of four, or maybe all four, we might be able to get a playoff or sneak in there,” Warriors coach Jeff Reinland said. “It’s getting to that point where we’re about to be eliminated. This is when you want to be playing your best. Unfortunately, we’re not playing very consistent right now.”
Cline dominated the paint here on Wednesday, but WWCC struggled elsewhere.
“Jander played really well, and we were able to get him the ball quite a bit, but other than that, we just didn’t make a lot of shots,” Warriors coach Jeff Reinland said. “It was close the whole game, we just didn’t play well enough to win. We took a lot of good shots, but missed most of them.”
Gabe Gallegos hit a 3-pointer to give WWCC a 43-37 lead about a minute before halftime, but on a back-and-forth night, Treasure Valley would eventually tie things up less than five minutes into the second half.
Kolby Modrow hit a 3-pointer for WWCC to make it a 66-66 game with 6:28 to go, but once a Devaughn Williams jumper on the ensuing possesion put Treasure Valley back ahead, the Warriors spent the rest of the night trying to catch up.
“The kids played hard, worked really hard, but we just missed too many shots,” Reinland said. “Treasure Valley’s big inside, but it could’ve gone either way. It was really close the whole time. We’d get back, and at one point had back-to-back wide open 3’s late in the game, but we missed them both. If they go in, I think we would have won.
“That’s what our season’s been like,” Reinland said. “We can’t get the shots when we need them. We score 100 points one night, and then we can’t score the next. We haven’t been consistent this year.”
The Warriors look to bounce back at Treasure Valley on Monday.
“They beat us on our home floor, but we matchup well with them,” Reinland said. “We’ll just have to shoot the ball better. You can’t shoot 7 of 25 from 3-point range, and expect to win.”
Cline nearly enabled the Warriors to pull it off.
“We have this reputation of being the kind of team that only shoots 3-pointers, but really, we go inside a lot more than most other teams,” Reinland said. “Treasure Valley was playing us with a lot of respect to our outside shooters. They were spread out, and that left Jander with one-on-one situations. He’s hard to stop. He’s a big body, hard to guard. He’s great one-on-one.
“But when he kicks the ball our, we’ve got to hit those shots.”
Chukars 83, Warriors 77
TREASURE VALLEY (83) — Howe 24, Phillips 19, Pogue 11, Williams 8, White 7, Duggan 7, Lupumba 4, Ziegner 3.
WALLA WALLA (77) — Cline 36, Gallegos 19, Ystueta 9, Modrow 6, Wagar 3, Poulton 2, Kern 2.
Halftime — WWCC 43-39. 3-point goals — TV 4 (Howe, Phillips, Duggan, Ziegner), WWCC 7 (Gallegos 3). Total fouls — TV 13, WWCC 20. Fouled out — WWCC (Ystueta). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — TV 34 (Pogue 8), WWCC 36 (Cline 11). Turnovers — TV 4, WWCC 3. Assists — TV 7 (Howe 3), WWCC 12 (Poulton 3).