Lady Hawks late blitz nets rare win in Pullman
By JOHN McCALLUM
It’s rare when a Cheney team travels to Whitman County and returns singing anything else but the blues.
Last Tuesday the Lady Hawks bus ride back from Pullman must have been filled with happy tunes indeed as Cheney outscored the host Greyhounds 21-5 in the final eight minutes to pull away for a convincing 64-40 win in Great Northern League girls basketball action. Head coach Shannon Root said she couldn’t really explain what happened to inspire her team in the final period, other than a prevailing sense that they should not have lost the first match up, a 10-point setback at home Jan. 11.
“My girls, I think they really wanted to win that game,” Root said of Tuesday’s win.
Cheney pushed the ball up court more against Pullman, taking more shots than they did in their first meeting and hitting 43 percent from the field. Shyann Morton had one of the bigger baskets of the night; a 3-pointer while the game was still relatively close in the fourth quarter that ignited Cheney’s jets down the stretch.
“We took a lot of shots and I think that was key,” Root said.
Kendyl Cone led all scorers with 17 points while Morton added 14 and Megan McDowell 10. Cheney was 13 for 16 from the free throw line, 81 percent.
The Lady Hawks hauled down 44 rebounds, 15 on the offensive glass with Katie McGourin leading with 10, three offensive and Katelynn Smedley adding eight, four offensive. Cheney committed 15 turnovers.
The Lady Hawks looked to carry some momentum from the Pullman win into the home game Friday night with West Valley (6-2 GNL, 12-4 overall) but came up short, losing 58-43 to the league’s third-place team. The Eagles found ways to put together little mini-runs, and the Lady Hawks had difficulty defending their trio of scorers, led by Erin Higbie’s game-high 20 points.
The Lady Hawks didn’t quit though, rallying from a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter to pull within 10 at 48-38 with 2 minutes 55 seconds remaining in the game, but couldn’t manufacture a key basket or defensive stop to pull themselves any closer.
Smedley was the only Cheney player in double figure scoring with 13 as they shot 44 percent from the field as a team. West Valley shot a little better at 50 percent, but the key Root said is they had well over 10 shots more than the Lady Hawks.
They also had more rebounds, particularly offensive where Cheney was out-boarded 20-10.
“We didn’t block out well,” Root said. “Gave them too many second chances.”
Cheney was also 57 percent from the free throw line, but didn’t get to the charity stripe very much. They also committed 19 turnovers to West Valley’s 13.
Cheney is currently holding down the sixth and final GNL playoff seed at 3-6, 4-11 overall, tied with Pullman. It won’t be easy jumping over the Greyhounds either as Cheney finishes up with three difficult opponents, GNL-leader East Valley (7-2, 14-3) Tuesday in the home finale and then road games at Colville (5-3, 11-4) tonight (Thursday) and Clarkston (5-3, 8-8) Feb. 13.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.