MOSES LAKE — Koby Huerta was something like 0-for-December from 3-point range after going into the NWAC schedule shooting 49.4 percent from beyond the arc.
But the 5-foot-9 Big Bend freshman that helped Kentwood win a 4A Washington state championship, stayed the course and found his stroke when the Runnin’ Vikes needed it most.
The final play with 12.1 seconds remaining was designed to be a pick-a-roll from the top, but Yakima Valley (13-7, 4-3 NWAC East) switched out of their 1-1-3 to a 2-3 zone and the designed set broke down. The ball rotated back to Huerta on the wing, on the spot, and he let fly the biggest 3-point shot of the night to help the Runnin’ Vikes extend their win streak to three games and come away with a big 77-74 victory at DeVries Activity Center.
“That’s my spot,” said Huerta, looking at the spot on the right wing. “I hadn’t been shooting the 3 well, but I don’t think about it at all. The only way to get out of a funk is to keep shooting and that was my mindset.
“It felt good when I put it up and I heard the bench say it was going in.”
The Runnin’ Vikes (11-9, 4-4 NWAC East) shot just 16.7 percent (3-18) from 3-point range in the first half, but found a rhythm as the game went on, finishing 9-of-28 for 32.1 percent. Huerta found the stroke, finishing with four shots from 3-point range on his way to 14 points.
“We’ve been in a little slump shooting the 3s, but we’re starting to shoot our way out of it. Eventually they start to go,” point guard Chris Hawkins said. “We’re all playing for each other when we’re they out there.
“To win a close one like this is a statement game for us. We feel like we have it going to close the season out strong.”
All five starters were in double figures for the Vikes, who outrebounded the Yaks 40-30. The Big Bend big men both finished with double-doubles. Mauricio Smith had a team-high 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds. The 6-5 freshman from Las Vegas had eight of those rebounds in the first half. Miles Brown, a 6-8 post from Sandy, Ore., finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Blake Dittman and Huerta had 14 apiece and DeAngelo Stowers had 16 points and three assists.
“When Koby, Chris and I get in together it’s a great vibe on the court. The defense is flowing, the offense is flowing and we’re just a team on the court,” Stowers said. “We finally got the 3-pointer going. Man, you can feel it when your team and the crowd starts feelin’ it. It’s great thing when we get it going.
“Sometimes when you’re not shooting the percentage you have to get to the rack and our coach does a good job in letting us know when we need to be penetrating and kicking.”
Yakima Valley sophomore Gamaun Boykin hit a twisting lay-up through traffic and was fouled with 16.4 seconds remaining. Boykin, who finished with a game-high 22 points, completed the three-point play to tie it 74-74.
Big Bend found the stroke, not a moment too soon, and finished it up for their sixth win in the past 10 games. The Runnin’ Vikes travel to Wenatchee Valley on Wednesday.
Yakima Valley 30 44 - 74
Big Bend 32 45 - 79
Yakima Valley - Quentin Raynor 12, Gamaun Boykin 22, David Lindgren 5, Modesta Britten 13, Trey Delp 10, Jordan Blodgett 6, Kashif Davis 3. Totals: 26-62 13-23 74
Big Bend - Mauricio Smith 17, Koby Huerta 14, Blake Dittman 14, DeAngelo Stowers 16, Miles Brown 12, Chris Hawkins 4. Totals: 25-65 18-24 77