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Lions bounce Wa-Hi girls to third seed in MCC

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Kennewick sent Walla Walla High’s girls on a road trip next week to open Greater Spokane League/Mid-Columbia Conference District 4A action.

The Lions led 52-43 entering the fourth quarter on Tuesday night.

The Blue Devils cut the lead to 55-53 with 1:30 left, but the Lions made enough free throws to hang on and pull out a 58-53 win.

The Lions improve their MCC record to 13-2 and secure the No. 1 seed to the 3A girls playoffs.

Wa-Hi and Pasco entered Tuesday’s action tied for the No. 2 Class 4A seed at 9-5.

The Blue Devil loss, coupled with Pasco’s 56-53 win over Richland on Tuesday, and Pasco holding the tiebreaker, clinches the No. 2 seed for the Bulldogs and a home opening district playoff game.

Wa-Hi clinches the No. 3 seed, and will travel to Spokane next Wednesday to face a Greater Spokane League foe.

“This was a tough one,” Wa-Hi coach Morgan Jo Poynor said. “We didn’t execute on offense at the end and didn’t get the stops we needed.”

A Karyssa Olivares bucket gave the Blue Devils a 10-3 lead with 3:40 left in the first.

The Lions responded with a 12-3 run to take a 15-13 lead to the second.

The turnover bug plagued Wa-Hi the entire first half, led to an 8-0 Lion run and a 23-13 lead with five minutes left in the half.

The Lions turned the Blue Devils over on five consecutive trips before Mia Huxoll scored at the four-minute mark to cut the Lion lead to 23-15.

“It was a big game,” Poynor said. “The nerves got to us a bit.”

Wa-Hi came back to close out the half behind eight points from Rian Clear, and trailed only 31-26 at intermission.

Clear scored 11 points, Huxoll added a bucket, Emmalyn Ogden hit two free throws, Monica Miller chipped in a basket, and following a Kysa Jausoro feed to Clear for a deuce, Wa-Hi grabbed a 43-39 lead with 3:32 left in the third.

“That (to the 3:32 mark) was one of our best third quarters,” Poynor said of the third-quarter problems that have bothered Wa-Hi on occasion this season.

The Lions turned Wa-Hi over five times and ended the third on a 13-0 run to go to the fourth up 52-43.

Ogden then led a furious Wa-Hi comeback.

Ogden grabbed five rebounds and scored six with her conversion of Miller feed getting the Blue Devils within 55-53 with 90 seconds left.

“She is so athletic that she gets her hands on every ball,” Poynor said of her senior forward. “She plays so hard that she sometimes gets in foul trouble (Ogden fouled out with 40 seconds left).”

Kennewick made only 3-of-9 free throws over that last 1:30, but it proved to be just enough to hold off the Blue Devils.

Madeline Gebers led the Lions with 20 points.

Clear led the Blue Devils 21, and Huxoll added 12.

Miller chipped in seven assists, and Ogden led the Blue Blue Devil rebounders with 10.

Wa-Hi’s seniors Lauryn Lyons and Peyton Bergevin, who were both injured and did not play, as well as Ogden, Clear, Jausoro, Miller, Michelle Diaz, Olivares and Huxoll played their last home game for the Blue Devils.

Wa-Hi (9-6) closes out the MCC regular season at Hermiston on Friday.

Lions 58, Blue Devils 53

KENNEWICK (58) — Av. Fiander 7, Townsend 2, Flores, Ai. Fiander 12, Thornton 7, McBee 10, Gebers 20. Totals 19 15-26 58.

WALLA WALLA (53) — Bergevin 3, Billingsley, Jausoro, Ogden 8, Clear 21, Miller 7, Olivares 2, Huxoll 12. Totals 19 11-15 53.

Kennewick 15 16 21 6 — 58

Wa-Hi 13 13 17 10 — 53

3-point goals — Kenn 5 (Gebers 2, McBee 2), WW 3 (Clear 2). Total fouls — Kenn 14, WW 18. Fouled out — Kenn (Ai. Fiander), WW (Ogden). Technicals — none. Rebounds — Kenn 42 (McBee 13), WW 52 (Ogden 10). Turnovers — Kenn 15, WW 22. Assists — Kenn 8 (Ai. Fiander 6), WW 11 (Miller 7).

Ken Morgan can be reached at kenmorgan@wwub.com.