Defense and heart lead to first D-W girls victory of season
January 23, 2020
Turnabout is fair play. It only seemed right Thursday night that the Dayton-Waitsburg girls basketball picked up its first victory of the season over visiting Walla Walla Valley Academy, 52-33, because last week in College Place, WWVA earned its first win of the season over visiting D-W, 47-34.
After their last meeting and D-W’s last game, it was hard to gauge what the outcome might be. But after WWVA nabbed the opening tip and then promptly turned the ball over that’s when the first glimmer of hope at a first victory appeared. One of WWVA’s sophomore 6-foot-3 center Rylee King’s multiple blocked shots seemed foreboding though until Dayton-Waitsburg’s junior forward Sadie Seney scored the game’s first points a minute into the contest.
An amazing layup by freshman Claudia Benavides brought the score to 4-0 three minutes in. It would take WWVA six minutes to score their first points on a bucket by sophomore standout Sahara Browning, which made it 6-2. Browning finished with 21 points, but only four others scored for the Knights, the highest of which was six points. Browning had had more help in the previous matchup between the two teams.
Dayton-Waitsburg was able to give themselves a nice 13-4 cushion at the end of the first quarter on a three-point play by Seney who put back her own miss and hit the free throw after being fouled on the play. She followed it up with a layup 20 seconds later. Both plays ignited the sparse crowd and hinted at a possible happy ending. Seney would lead all scorers on a career night with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
“Our team came together stronger than we ever have before,” Seney said. “We used our strength and size to our advantage and fought for a well-deserved win.”
This game may well have been Dayton-Waitsburg’s best defensive effort of the season and was evident in the way they played like a team. Junior 5’5" guard Mackena Culley drew the assignment of guarding WWVA’s King, and it was a genius move as Culley held the almost foot-taller opponent to one field goal. King looked uncomfortable all night and her inability to dribble after being passed the ball was a huge asset for D-W’s defense.
“The girls had great intensity on defense, and it resulted in points at the other end,” Assistant Coach Desirae Jones said. “Every girl that suited up took the floor with a lot of heart. It was exciting to see our girls play like we know they can.”
The intensity and stress in the air increased in the fourth quarter as it felt like the game would never finish as the Knights battled until the very end. With a 21-point lead to start the final eight minutes, WWVA crushed any hope D-W could coast over the final minutes, as Browning hit two impressive layups and a couple of free throws and senior Joslin Haggins added two three-pointers to pull the Knights within 10 points with 3:11 to go.
Ten seconds later, Culley may have hit the shot of the night on a three-pointer. Moments later, Browning and Haggins would both foul out of the game, which eliminated the Knights chances to complete a comeback. This was a minute after Benavides had fouled out for D-W. She spent an uncharacteristic amount of the time on the bench in foul trouble and finished with seven points, far below her average.
Senior guard Kirsten Miller’s only two points of the game showcased the team’s hard play with 29 seconds left, she stole the ball and went the full court for a layup and the final points of the game.
“I felt the intensity of everyone and knew we all wanted the win super bad,” Miller said.
“We set the bar high that game and we are only going up from there,” senior Captain Kira Boggs said of her team’s hard work.
In their other two games, the D-W girls played flat. Against Columbia-Burbank they fell 59-16, and last Saturday in a very physical game in which the team struggled against Mabton’s press, they lost 69-34.
The Dayton-Waitsburg girls (1-6 league, 1-12) played two non-league games at Pomeroy on Tuesday and at Touchet on Wednesday. They travel to Liberty Christian in Richland, Wash. for a game at 6 p.m. Friday and will host them next Wednesday at 6 p.m. in a make-up game.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
WWVA 4 13 3 13 33
D-W 13 13 15 11 52
Walla Walla Valley Academy (33): Browning 21, Haggins 6, Smith 3, King 2, Werner 1. 3-pts: 4-13, Browning 2, Haggins 2. Fouls: 23. Fouled Out: Browning, Haggins. Turnovers: 39. Free Throws: 7-19. Rebounds 35.
Dayton-Waitsburg (52): Seney 24, Culley 8, Benavides 7, Boggs 5, Forney 2, Acevedo 2, Brincken 2, Miller 2. 3-pts: 4-12, Culley 2, Seney, Boggs. Fouls: 21. Fouled Out: Benavides. Turnovers: 25. Free Throws: 16-33. Rebounds 35.