YVCC women’s basketball team one win away from repeat as NWAACC champs

March 6, 2012 by  

KENNEWICK, Wash. — They had planned on this since last December, when Brittney Newcomb’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation sparked an overtime victory over Walla Walla.

But who knew, way back then, that Yakima Valley would lose the person who passed to Newcomb, and who also scored 42 points that night, before losing two regular-season games to the Warriors?

And who knew that this YVCC team, the defending NWAACC champion, would regroup after Brandi Henton’s season-ending knee injury and other assorted setbacks to again reach the title game with a 59-47 defeat of Walla Walla on Monday night in the Toyota Center?

“Yeah, we were hoping,” said Newcomb, who led the Yaks with 15 points after serving as a key component on last year’s title team. “We’ve been through a lot, but I think it’s made us stronger. And I think it’s made us better.”

Enough so to have earned a shot at an NWAACC championship repeat, last accomplished by coach Elwood Crosier’s teams in 1990 and 1991.

Opposing fifth-ranked Yakima Valley (23-7) at 5:30 p.m. today will be top-ranked Columbia Basin (28-2), against whom the Yaks split a pair or East Region matchups with each team winning on the other’s floor.

Against third-ranked Walla Walla (22-7), YVCC staged strong bursts to start each half, then overcame repeated runs by coach Bobbi Hazeltine’s Warriors plus a sizable amount of foul trouble to win going away.

Simone Jordan totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds despite sitting substantial minutes with fouls, and Kaylah Gonzales followed Sunday’s sterling performance with 11 points and four steals.

Sam Zapien, another starter from the 2011 championship squad, produced crucial back-to-back hoops en route to an eight-point total.

“I guess you could call it championship fever,” the former Granger High School standout said. “When we start thinking about the gold ball, we just seem to take things to a higher level.”

Especially at the game’s outset, when successive Gonzales long balls ignited a 13-1 YVCC getaway.

Then, after Walla Walla scrambled to within 25-20 at halftime, Jordan struck from long distance and Newcomb, Gonzales and Jaimi Cox followed with 3-balls to fuel a 14-2 burst.

“It reminded me of last year’s championship game,” said Hazeltine, who has twice won it all during her tenure with the Warriors. “They jumped on us right off the bat and we just weren’t able to recover. We attacked them well at our place and we attacked them well at Yakima, but tonight we played scared.”

Not so for the Yaks, which was a considerable source of pride for coach Cody Butler.

“There was a point in the game where they were right on the brink of letting the game get away from us,” he said. “We’d become preoccupied with the officiating (Butler himself was issued a technical foul with 7:21 to play), we were playing too fast and the game was slipping away.

“But the girls refocused and became very, very mentally tough. A team with even a little less mental toughness probably loses this game.”

With Walla Walla down only 50-43, Zapien hit a 12-footer, made a steal at the defensive end and then converted a step-back jumper from 16 feet for a 54-43 Yaks cushion with 3:00 to play.

The Warriors then got to within 54-47 before Yakima Valley closed with a 5-0 run.

“When you know the other team so well, with them as familiar with us as we are with them, you look a little harder at the third and fourth options on the stuff you run,” Butler said. “And Bobbi is an amazing coach. She would win at any level she coached at and her team this year is very, very good. I’m just really pleased with the way we stayed tough, especially with the mental aspect.”

Tai Jensen, a 6-foot sophomore, led the Warriors with 16 points before fouling out while Granger sophomore Janae Klarich scored four points.

YAKIMA VALLEY — Brittney Newcomb 3-13 8-8 15, Cox 3-8 0-2 6, Kaylah Gonzales 4-6 0-0 11, Simone Jordan 4-12 3-4 12, Zapien 3-8 1-2 8, Brewster 0-1 0-0 0, Swetzof 1-6 0-0 2, A. Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Lekson 0-0 0-0 0, Ferguson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-62 12-16 59.

WALLA WALLA — Klarich 2-6 0-2 4, Leslie Stillar 2-14 5-7 11, Felgenhauer 1-2 0-2 2, Edmunson 1-5 2-2 4, Tai Jensen 7-11 2-2 16, Seitz 0-0 0-0 0, Hawkins 0-1 0-0 0, Pfefferle 2-5 0-0 6, Humphries 1-5 0-3 2, McDonald 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-49 11-20 47.

Halftime — YVCC 25-20. 3-point goals — YVCC 7-24 (Newcomb 1-7, Swetzof 0-5, K. Gonzales 3-4, Ferguson 1-4, Jordan 1-3, Zapien 1-3); WWCC 4-16 (Klarich 0-1, Hawkins 0-1, Stillar 2-8, Pfefferle 2-5, Edmunson 0-1). Fouled out — Jensen. Rebounds — YVCC 40 (Jordan 10); WWCC 41 (Jensen 8). Assists — YVCC 8 (K. Gonzales 4); WWCC 9 (Stillar 8). Turnovers — YVCC 12, WWCC 19. Total fouls — YVCC 21, WWCC 15.

Filed under All, YVCC Basketball (W)

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