Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Wa-Hi boys’ and girls’ basketball march to state

The last time the Walla Walla High School boys’ basketball team went to state, most of the players and their screaming fans were still in elementary school.   When the Wa-Hi Blue Devils assured themselves a spot at state with a 50-35 victory over Lewis and Clark High School, players and fans alike responded with appropriate enthusiasm.
“Wow! Amazing. We’re ecstatic right now,” said senior guard Mac Richards, describing his feelings to the Union-Bulletin with understandable glee in the immediate aftermath of the victory.

While the story for the Wa-Hi girls had a different ending: they were one game shy of a state berth: this season has told an exciting tale for Wa-Hi basketball.

The scene in the Blue Devils’ gym on Tuesday, February 24 best exemplifies what the Wa-Hi varsity basketball teams have accomplished this season.

On that chilly school night, the line to watch the high school basketball game continued out of the building and spilled into the parking lot. Parents, siblings, teachers, students, and a few grandparents who were carrying cushy stadium seats, crowded in long before the 6 p.m. tip-off of the girls’ game.

In the hot Wa-Hi gym, the pep band clanged their way through the requisite “Tequila” and “Smoke on the Water.” The cheerleaders, meanwhile, screamed the slightly sinister-sounding “De-vil pow-er” cheer every chance they got.
But on the hardwood, it was all business.

The lady Blue Devils were up against three-time, 4A defending state champion Lewis and Clark High. L&C came in 22-1 (103-7 over the past four years), and before the week preceding this match-up with Wa-Hi, they had not lost a game in two years.   Clearly, this meant little to the majority of spectators in the Wa-Hi gym who cheered and chanted as the Blue Devils silenced the L&C offense with stifling defense, ultimately upsetting L&C 45-23 on the scoreboard.

The sea of blue in the stands came to watch some good basketball and wear out their vocal chords.   In return, they witnessed a resounding 70-52 dismantling of arguably the best team in the state, and, of course, a dance team performance to pop music played at ear-shattering decibel levels. They also got a glimpse of the future in Jamie Weisner.   Weisner, a scrappy, blonde freshman spent a large portion of the night popping her bright blue mouth guard in and out, in and out, and the rest of the night scoring 28 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Sophomore Mikeala Rivard added 23 points.

By the time the boys took the floor, the gym was nearly full; the gym’s occupants undoubtedly counted for a measurable percentage of the Walla Walla population.

The sizable Wa-Hi boys: most of whom look like they spend their free time lifting combines: made life difficult for the undersized Davis boys, but oh-so-good for the blue in the bleachers.

When junior Gary Winston dunked the ball in the second half en route to a 55-44 Wa-Hi victory, even the gaggle of girls in the back, consumed with their furious texting, looked up at the resulting roar. Kids in blue body paint high-fived each other, others in blue capes and gold spandex danced around while the parents clapped enthusiastically from their seats.

The Blue Devil teams took different paths the following weekend: the Wa-Hi boys toppled the L&C boys to earn their first trip to state since 2004; tables turned on the girls as their season ended with a 48-65 loss in a rematch with rival L&C. But the real story for Wa-Hi basketball was Tuesday night–the last home games of the year–when resounding basketball cheers filled every corner of the gym.

The Wa-Hi girls end their season with a 22-6 record.   The boys improved to 20-7 in the first round of the state tournament by beating Todd Beamer High School on March 4. The boys’ team intends to get one step closer to a championship in the coming days.

Wa-Hi girls took home a league championship to hang in the gym while the boys are district champions –– only a few wins a way from a state championship.

Both teams put two players on the all-district teams, and Gary Winston, defensive player of the year, and four of the five starters for the lady Blue Devils will be back next year. As the girls turn in their uniforms and prepare for next season, the story continues for Wa-Hi basketball as the boys suit up for the biggest game yet.

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