Panther boys fall short of upsetting West Valley

WENATCHEE — Wenatchee tried to knock off league leader West Valley on Tuesday, but despite a strong effort, fell 45-39 to the Rams.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win. We’ve made some improvements in the last few weeks. Defensively, I thought we played well enough to win, giving up 45 points. At the end of the day, you have to hit shots,” said Wenatchee Head Coach Travis Williams.

The Rams feature 7-1 senior Carter Turner, who sits in the middle of their 2-3 zone and makes life difficult for opposing offenses. West Valley jumped out to a 12-7 first-quarter lead. The Panthers stayed close in the second quarter but still trailed at the half 26-19.

Willaims said they found a way to attack the Ram zone but just could not get the shots to fall.

“We watched a lot of film and saw that was an area we could attack their zone from, whether a high-low pass to the post, face up and find open shooters on the perimeter or knockdown that free throw jumper. That was wide open but just couldn’t knock it down,” Williams said.

Wenatchee had their best quarter in the third as junior guard Garrett Long and 6-6 senior center Chase Loidhamer started to heat up. The Panthers cut the lead to six heading into the final quarter, 35-29.

Turner was limiting most of the inside play.

“He’s 7-1, so that’s not something we see every day by any means. He’s mobile and gets his hands up and affects shots. He makes it hard to just catch and go up and finish,” Williams said. “He’s a big part of what they do, for sure. He takes up space in the middle of the zone. That’s why it’s a challenge to play West Valley. You have to go against their length. It’s not just the center. They have 6-5, 6-6 guys out on the wing that covers space.”

Panther scoring was limited in the first half as only Long, Loidhamer and senior Logan Nelson scored. In the second half, that did not change much but senior Nathan Blauman and junior Joe Dorey got into the scoring column.

Wenatchee played even in the final quarter, 10-10. Free throws down the stretch by West Valley did not allow the comeback as the Rams won 45-39.

“We were 5-for-13 from the free-throw line and 4-for-17 from three. In a six-point loss, you don’t need to look any further than those two stats. That sums up the loss right there,” Williams said.

Long led the Panthers with 16 points. Chase Loidhammer had 11 points and 9 rebounds. Junior Logan Kinloch led WV with 13 points. Senior Trey Funk and Turner each had 12. Turner had six blocks.

West Valley improved to 11-0 in the Big 9 and 17-2 overall. Wenatchee fell to 6-5 in the Big 9 and 10-9 overall. The Panthers are tied for third with Davis (6-5, 10-9). The Pirates finish the regular season on Thursday at West Valley, while Wenatchee finishes the regular season Friday at Moses Lake (2-9, 4-14).

If Davis loses on Thursday and Wenatchee wins on Friday, the Panthers are the three seed going into Districts next Tuesday.

“We talked about that after the game. What it boils down to is taking care of what we can control. That is going to Moses on Friday to get a win. That is not an easy place to get a win. It doesn’t matter what year it is,” Williams said. “We have to control what we can control. We’ll have an idea what we’re up against with Davis playing on Thursday.”

Williams said his team has found an identity of what makes them successful.

“The kids are buying into that. We have to play a certain way to be our best. We’re starting to do that. The last four or five games, we’ve played our best basketball all year. That’s all you can ask for this time of year. If we play hard, we can beat anybody in our league and grab one of those two spots to State,” he said.

Wenatchee girls fall to West Valley

WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Panthers might have played their best game of the season against West Valley Tuesday, which could end up second in the Big 9. Despite the strong effort, the Panthers lost 60-57 on senior night.

“It was probably our most complete game to date. I thought we did a lot of good things. We had a lot of consistent scoring throughout. We kept our turnovers down, which was pretty big for us. I don’t think it is our best game yet, but we did a lot of really good things to build on,” said Wenatchee Head Coach Pat Loftus.

West Valley took the early leading feeding the ball to their 6-2 junior center, Gillyan Landis. The Rams took an 18-10 first-quarter lead. As Landis landed in foul trouble, Wenatchee heated up on offense in the second quarter, outscoring West Valley 18-11.

The Rams led 29-28 at the half.

“I felt like we came into it really focused. The seniors were pretty excited and energetic about having senior night. Our defense was pretty good, but there are areas for improvement,” Loftus said. “It was probably one of our better offensive games in terms of really executing some offense. There is still room for improvement as well.”

In the third quarter, Landis picked up her fourth foul on a great drive by senior Mady Peters. Loftus said Peters has been doing a great job attacking the basket.

“Right around midyear, she just turned it on. She is very sudden with her crossover, which gets her past that first defender. She’s been doing a good getting into the lane drawing fouls. She has great vision, so she’ll find the shooter or somebody posting up,” Loftus said of Peters.

The Rams expanded their lead in the third quarter to 49-41. In the fourth, Wenatchee was able to catch up and take the lead more than once. The game was tied at 57-57 with 40 seconds left. West Valley ran the shot clock nearly out as senior Tail Brennan lofted a deep shot that bounced off the glass and in with just 10 seconds left.

Wenatchee was unable to muster a good shot in the time remaining, losing 60-57.

“Those ones hurt for sure. It’s never one play that wins or loses a game. There were things we could have done before it came down to one shot. To lose on a banked three is tough,” Loftus said.

Senior Emily Redman led Wenatchee with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Peters had 11. Senior Whitney Crawley had 9, senior Olivia Ramirez 8 and senior Kristen Sanford 5. Landis had 20 for West Valley. Senior Ariel Winslow had 18. Brennan had 13.

West Valley improved to 8-3 in the Big 9, tied for second with Sunnyside.

The Rams are 11-8 overall. The Panthers fall to 3-8 the Big 9 and 5-15 overall. Wenatchee is the sixth seed for Districts. They will play at the number three seed on Tuesday, either West Valley or Sunnyside.

“We’ve been talking lately. It’s been a progression for us all season. We want to make sure come next Tuesday we’re playing our best basketball. Last night was a step in the right direction. We just want to keep our momentum and keep improving the offensive execution, defensive intensity, and rotations. We just want to keep getting closer to our best game,” Loftus said.

Ian Dunn: 664-7157