RICHLAND — Jake Freedle forced overtime when he buried a game-tying 3-pointer for Walla Walla Valley Academy with only three seconds left, and the Knights carried the momentum to a 76-68 comeback win over Liberty Christian in Eastern Washington Athletic Conference boys basketball action here on Monday.
Apparently destined to see its four-game winning streak come to an end before the big Freedle 3-pointer, WWVA (9-3 overall, 5-1 in the EWAC) came away still tied with White Swan atop league standings.
Freedle finished with a WWVA-best 26 (including four 3-pointers) while Isaias Santellano added 17, Aaron Pollard had 15, Henry Clancy 14.
“This was a good team win, and our guys showed that they won’t quit and will dig deep even when they are sick and have low energy,” Knights coach Michael Bumgardner said. “Our coaching staff and players were pleased with how we overcame our struggles for most of the game, and were able to step up and play big in crunch time.”
The unstoppable Knights next will go to Dayton-Waitsburg on Thursday for an EWAC rematch starting around 7:30 p.m. WWVA routed D-W, 67-32, last week at home in College Place.
D-W will have its hands full, as Liberty Christian learned here on Monday.
“Our guys were a bit sluggish to start the game, and Liberty came out with a lot of energy in their home gym, looking to shoot,” Bumgardner said. “With our lack of energy on defense, we didn’t rotate as well as we would have liked, and by the end of the first half, we felt glad that we had done enough to be tied 29-29.
“Through out the third quarter and first two of the fourth, Liberty hit some very tough contested shots, and we found ourselves down by 10 with six minutes left,” Bumgardner said. “Our guys did a good job adapting our defensive coverage, and were able to make it a one possession game within the next three minutes.
“After trading some baskets over the final couple of minutes, we found ourselves down three with nine seconds remaining and Liberty shooting a 1-and-1,” Bumgardner said. “LC missed the first free throw, and Pollard grabs the rebound, and our guys transitioned to offense quickly, finding Jake Freedle for a step-back 3 to tie the game with three seconds on the clock, forcing overtime.
“Jake’s 3-pointer to send it to overtime is a shot that he has spent many hours working on, and you are glad to see him make a shot like that,” Bumgardner said. “Pay off for all his hard work.
“In overtime our guys realized what they needed to do, and played the last four minutes with control and patience on offense and defensive intensity,” Bumgardner said. “Our guys were able to get lead and force LC into fouling us to to stay in the game.
“Isaias Santellano hit four straight free throws, and Gabe Torres hit two more to seal the the overtime win,” Bumgardner said. “Isaias and Gabe’s free throws were daggers to seal the game, and you are happy that their focus on this area in practice got tested tonight, and they were successful.
“Isaias Santellano and Jake Freedle did a great job keeping our offense going throughout the game with shots and assists,” Bumgardner said. “Aaron Pollard and Henry Clancy did a excellent job cleaning up the glass, both finishing with double doubles.
“Gabe Torres, David Rittenbach, Owen Parks, and Jasiah Heredia did a good job slowing driving lanes on defense and finding open teammates on offense.
“We are happy to get a league win on the road,” Bumgardner said. “There are lots of things to watch on game film and get better on in practice as we move forward to prepare to play them again in a week.”
Knights 76, Patriots 68, OT
WALLA WALLA VALLEY ACADEMY (76) — Freedle 26, Santellano 17, Pollard 15, Clancy 14, Torres 4. Totals 28-73 13-17 76.
LIBERTY CHRISTIAN (68) — McClure 36, Connolly 14, C. Morgan 8, Dunham 8, Lesser 2. Totals 24-69 5-12 68.
WWVA 9 20 17 20 10 — 76
LC 14 15 21 16 2 — 68
3-point goals — WWVA 7 (Freedle 4, Santellano 2, Pollard), LC 15 (McClure 7, Connolly 4, C. Morgan 2, Dunham 2). Total fouls — WWVA 11, LC 12. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — WWVA (Pollard), LC (Lesser). Rebounds — WWVA 40, LC 35. Turnovers — WWVA 6, LC 9. Assists — WWVA 19, LC 10.