MATTAWA — The Wahluke Warriors (5-3) got rolled up in rez ball, falling behind early to Yakama Tribal, and never catching up in their 89-71 nonleague loss to the Eagles.
Rez ball by definition is running the floor, slinging it around and finishing at the jar and that’s exactly what the Eagles (4-2) did with their high-flying offense that produced 36 first-quarter points. Alex Valdez’s hard foul on Deshawn John with 17.8 seconds remaining reminded the Eagles the Warriors never stopped playing. But they did trip over the first hurdle and stumble to the end.
“It wasn’t so much the press that we struggled with as the high intensity they bring,” Wahluke assistant Everardo Corrales said. “It’s definitely rez ball. They keep their foot on the pedal and they love to run and gun.”
Despite the relatively low score, there wasn’t a lack of offense with a combined eight players in double figures. Yakama Tribal’s Bryce Strom scored 13 of his 32 points during the Eagles’ 36-point first quarter. Bryan Strom (17), Justice Hart (15) and Mylo Jones (11) filled in around the 5-foot-7 junior point guard that had more than one Warrior defender talking to himself.
Wahluke countered team leader Alex Valdez’s 16 points and seven rebounds. Allan Contreras Isaiah Perez, Juan Mendoza all finished with 10 points apiece.
“I feel like we’re playing pretty good,” Corrales said. “The big thing is that the boys never let up. They kept playing all the way through. There was spots where we worked our way back.
“Alex (Valdez) gives you everything he’s got, night in and night out and he’s our leader by example and I think they feed off of that.”
Yakama Tribal lit up from the jump, taking a 28-13 lead midway through the first quarter, then breaking it down with a 9-0 run that started in the first quarter and ran into the second to make it 41-17.
The Warriors didn’t handle the pressure defense well, but they basically just go out-Stromed. If it wasn’t Bryce on the stop-and-pop or taking in hard to the basket, it was Bryan on the perimeter. They accounted for 49 of the 89 points.
“We didn’t handle the pressure very well tonight,” Buck said. “This team was very quick, so it made it hard to run with them. I have relatives on that team. The Stroms are brothers and they’re both good. We’ve seen them before, but they were pretty good tonight.”
The Warriors have just five seniors on the roster, so it is a youth movement of sorts even though they have played together since grade school. They dropped a 79-61 loss to Connell (Dec. 18) and made it back-to-back losses with Yakama Tribal going into the holiday break.
“I think we’ve learned a lot by playing teams like Connell and Yakama Tribal. We just need to play more physical and we’ll figure it all out.”
The Warriors come out of the break at the Granger Holiday Tournament Dec. 28 and then host College Place to open the SCAC East schedule.
Yakama Tribal 36 14 16 23 — 89
Wahluke 15 18 15 23 — 71
Yakama Tribal — Bryce Strom 32, Bryan Strom 17, Justice Hart 15, Mylo Jones 11, Yallup 8, Bueno 4, Pascua 2, Arquette 0, John 0, Hooper 0.
Wahluke — Alex Valdez 16, Allan Contreras 10, Isaiah Perez 10, Juan Mendoza 10, Jesus Cisneros 8, Tanu Buck 8, Trenton Zirker 3, Luke Yorgensen 2, Sebastian Soto 2.