PENDLETON — Wes Persinger knew that Wenatchee Valley was a good basketball team, but he wasn’t about to let the game go without a fight.
The Blue Mountain Community College sophomore point guard scored a game-high 22 points and hauled down a team-high nine rebounds, but a late second-half run by the Knights put the Timberwolves on the losing end of an 83-68 NWAC East home game on Saturday afternoon.
“They’re a great team,” said Persinger, a 6-foot-9 Pendleton native. “They have some great players. The whole game was kind of up and down for us. We didn’t have the energy and intensity that we needed.”
Blue Mountain sophomore shooting guard Dedi Seme tied the score twice in the early minutes of the first half, but that would be the closest the Timberwolves would come to taking the lead. Persinger pulled the Timberwolves within three points at 19-16 with 11:22 left, and capped off a brief six-point Blue Mountain run with 1:18 to go as they trailed just 35-28 at halftime.
It was the second half that posed the greater challenge for the Timberwolves.
A 14-4 Knights run that spanned nearly four minutes began with 16:09 left to play, with Persinger being the only Timberwolf successful enough to find the net against the Knights during the streak. By the end of the run, the Knights were up by 23 points at 62-39.
“We played well defensively,” Blue Mountain coach Doug Baxter said, “but our offense struggled to keep up. We just couldn’t put up enough points on ’em.”
Seme pulled Blue Mountain within 15 points at 75-60 with a basket as the clock ticked into the final five minutes, but Wenatchee Valley’s Abdul Abdullah and Nick Hopkins combined for a six-point run with 4:03 left to play that gave them a 21-point lead at 81-60.
Persinger and freshman point guard Josh Wilson came together for six unanswered points of their own in the last two minutes that cut the deficit to 13.
“Our guys worked hard on our zone all week during practice,” Persinger said, “but (Wenatchee Valley) came ready to play. They were just better than us tonight. We need to minimize those runs that the other teams make against us.”
Shaw Broncheau followed Persinger with 12 points and led the Timberwolves (5-19, 1-10 NWAC) in rebounds with eight. Wilson chipped in 11 points, and Seme 10. Malik Parsons had a team-high 16 points for the East Region’s third-ranked Knights (20-4, 8-3 NWAC).
“We just have to be able to score the ball,” Baxter said. “That’s our trouble right now.”
Blue Mountain will visit Yakima Valley on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
After a stagnant first quarter, in which the Timberwolves were only able to put up four points against their Wenatchee Valley visitors’ 24, the Blue Mountain women suffered a 86-49 NWAC East home loss on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights’ offense showed signs of slowing in the final 10 minutes as the Timberwolves managed to outscore them 16-15, but Blue Mountain could not overcome their early deficit.
Madi McKrola led Blue Mountain (3-19, 1-10 NWAC)) with 14 points and chipped in six rebounds. Katie Skramstad added 11, while Alyia Munoz finished with a team-high seven rebounds — all defensive — on the night.
The Timberwolves will hit the road to challenge Yakima Valley for more NWAC action Wednesday evening. Game time is at 5:30 p.m.