COLLEGE PLACE — The WWVA Knights continued to build up a head of steam on Saturday night, this time crushing EWAC heavyweight Tri-Cities Prep 57-36 in a showcase of pure defensive prowess.
"The first half was maybe the best display of two-way basketball we've shown all year," Knights coach Michael Bumgardner said. "The boys were patient, really focused on making the extra pass and finding the best shot at the best time, and we went in and beat a very tough, very disciplined opponent."
The Knights, for reference, held the usually-potent Jaguars to just 14 points through the first two frames, while scoring 32 for themselves.
The Knights continued to improve on the tenets that have, thus far, made them one of the premier EWAC teams and a force to be reckoned with across the entire 2B level.
"The entire team played with incredible defensive intensity," Bumgardner said. "They did a great job taking away the open guys and forcing the Jaguars into bad shots."
Bumgardner noted three individuals in particular who have elevated the Knights' defense to another level.
"Aaron Pollard was a defensive nightmare tonight," he said. "He made driving the lane pretty much impossible and swatted shot after shot, plus he's been instrumental in spacing the floor and making our offense easier to run."
"Furthermore," he continued, "our perimeter defense was rock solid; Jake Freedle and Isaias Santellano have done a great job of patrolling the passing lanes and creating opportunities on both ends of the floor, and Jake has done a great job of finishing in the lane when his number is called."
Santellano has been a particular point of interest in WWVA's recent success.
"We've changed a few things about the way we play, both on offense and defense," Bumgardner said, "and Isaias has really risen to the challenge we've given him. He's spacing the floor well and finding the open guys on offense, and his energy on defense is absolutely unmatched. He's reading the passing lanes and clamping down on the perimeter, and he's creating so many opportunities for the team."
Jake Freedle and Aaron Pollard each scored 17 for the Knights on the night, and Gabriel Torres added seven more.
WWVA (8-3, 4-1) will hit the road on Monday for a tough conference game with Liberty Christian (6-4, 1-1), scheduled to start at 7:30.
Knights 57, Jaguars 36
TRI-CITIES PREP (36) — Mercado 15, White 9, Baerlocher 5, Maiuri 3, Harper 2, Hiett 2.
WALLA WALLA VALLEY ACADEMY (57) — Freedle 17, Pollard 17, Torres 7, Clancy 6, Santellano 5, Parks 2, Wallace-Bailey 2, Nishi 1.
3-pt field goals — TCP 0; WWVA 6 (Pollard 3). Fouls — TCP 9; WWVA 12. Rebounds — TCP 28; WWVA 26. Turnovers — TCP 8; WWVA 14. Assists — TCP 2; WWVA 16.