Michael Cornia, Wa-Hi’s 6-foot-4 junior post, torched Pasco for 33 points Tuesday night in the Blue Devils gym and the home team stormed to a 78-43 victory over the Bulldogs in a Mid-Columbia Conference boys prep basketball game.
It was the third straight victory for the Walla Wallans after dropping two of their first three games in the new year, and the Blue Devils now have second place all to themselves in the MCC standings.
Wa-Hi is 7-2 in league games, 11-2 overall and doesn’t play again until next Tuesday when it entertains Southridge. The Blue Devils beat the Suns 73-65 when the teams met Dec. 2 in Kennewick in the first round of league play.
Kamiakin, which was idle Tuesday, is a half game behind Wa-Hi in the MCC standings at 6-2, 10-2 for the season. The Braves, who lost to Wa-Hi 63-53 when they met Jan. 4 on the Blue Devils’ floor, visit Southridge Friday and entertains Hanford next Tuesday.
“This was our first game of the second round and we are in a good spot,” Wa-Hi coach Adam Berg said following Tuesday’s lopsided win. “Our schedule is backloaded with better teams in the standings, so we need to take care of business and set ourselves up for the last couple of weeks of the season.”
Wa-Hi opened the 2020 portion of its schedule with a 62-57 MCC loss at Richland on Jan. 2, and five nights later first-place Chiawana invaded Walla Walla and handed the Blue Devils a 90-87 defeat.
The Blue Devils get a second shot at the Bombers Jan. 24 at Wa-Hi and they will take on the Riverhawks for a second time Feb. 1 in Pasco.
“Southridge has been in every game they’ve played and they have one of the best players in the league,” Berg said of the Suns, who are 3-5 in league games and 4-8 overall. “We jumped on them early at our place and held on to the lead.
“We played our worst game of the year at Richland,” he said of a Bombers team that is 5-3 in league games and 8-4 for the season. “We are hoping to do a little better the next time.”
The Blue Devils couldn’t do much better than they did in the first quarter Tuesday night as they bowled their way to a 20-1 lead after the first eight minutes of play. Wa-Hi led 42-14 at the intermission and was on cruise control the entire second half.
“We played a pretty complete basketball game,” Berg said. “Our offense has been pretty good all year and we are starting to play better defense.”
And the coach couldn’t ask more from Cornia, who scored nine points in the first quarter and nine more in the second to set the tone early.
“He can do just about everything,” Berg said of Cornia, who sank three of Wa-Hi’s 11 3-point baskets and was likewise effective down low.
“He’s difficult to stop in the post and he can handle the basketball.” Berg said. “He runs the pick-and-roll, and he’s a good shooter, just very difficult to stop.”
Cornia contributed 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots to his 33-point scoring effort.
Jacob Coram, a 6-3 junior, drained four 3-point shots for 12 points and Diego Jaques, a 6-foot sophomore guard, was a third Blue Devil in double figures with 10 points. Senior Dylan Ashbeck narrowly missed double figures with a nine-point game.
Ethan Legard led the Bulldogs with 13 points and Robert Garza contributed 11.
Pasco fell to 1-8 in league action and 2-11 overall. The Bulldogs entertain Kennewick Friday and are at Hermiston next Tuesday for their next two games.
Blue Devils 78, Bulldogs 43
PASCO (43) — Licon 2, Ortiz 2, Garza 11, Bargeman 7, Montelongo 2, Legard 13, De La Mora, Gutierrez, Avina 3. Totals 16 3-6 43.
WA-HI (78 — Ashbeck 9, Cornia 33, Wasser 3, Jaques 10, Watson 8, Coram 12, Smith, Nielson 3. Totals 30 7-10 78.
Pasco 1 13 19 10 — 43
Wa-Hi 20 22 22 14 — 78
3-point goals — Pasco (Garza 3, Bargeman, Legard 3, Avina), Wa-Hi (Cornia 3, Wasser, Jaques 2, Coram 4, Nielson). Total fouls — Pasco 12, Wa-Hi 7. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.