MOSES LAKE — It’s not everyday where a coach looks at the halftime stat sheet and sees his opponent is shooting 71.4 from 3-point range, and he thinks “We got ‘em right where we want them.”
Big Bend first-year head coach Mingo Scott knew Spokane Community College would come back down to earth in the second half and the Runnin’ Vikes (13-10, 6-5 East) hit them with everything they had in Wednesday night’s 96-85 victory over the Sasquatch.
Spokane finished up shooting 46.4 percent (13-28), but the Runnin’ Vikes did one better, knocking down 48 percent (12-25) from downtown. All five Big Bend starters finished in double figures and the first off the bench finished with nine assists.
The win helps Big Bend in its playoff hopes and taking down the third-place team doesn’t hurt with a team riding high with confidence.
“We absolutely had to have this game tonight to stay in the playoff hunt,” Scott said. “I knew they weren’t going to be able to keep up their perimeter game. We spent a lot of time this week going over the structure of their offense. They do that high-low pick and rolls and last time when they blew us out we were giving them wide open 3s and wide open layups. This time we forced their hand and forced them to the end of the shot clock.”
The Runnin’ Vikes went on a 10-0 run midway through the second half. Mauricio Smith hit a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give Big Bend the lead, 75-73 with 8:36 remaining. Blake Dittman, who was 7-of-12 from the floor, buried trey from the wing and Koby Huerta knocked down another from beyond the arc to make it 10 unanswered points and a 85-73 lead with just under six minutes to play.
“I just wanted to work into a flow. I had a couple of 3s to start the second half,” said Huerta, who finished with 19 points and five assists. “I thought Miles (Brown) was huge tonight, especially with Cesar (Sandoval of Moses Lake). He did a great job playing against a great player.
“I thought our energy was the difference. They kicked our butts in Spokane and we took this personal. We had to defend our home court and that’s what we did.”
Brown (6-8) and Sandoval (6-6) pounded on each other in the paint all night long. Sandoval, the sophomore from Moses Lake, finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Sasquatch (17-7. 7-4). Brown had been on his game for the past three outings. The 6-8 freshman from Sandy, Ore., finished up with 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“My plan was to front him and deny the entry pass as much as I could,” Brown said. “I knew tonight was a big game and we needed to rebound well down the stretch. We couldn’t let them have extra possessions, so I felt like I had to get every rebound.
“Beating these guys is huge. It’s probably one of the biggest games of the year. Tonight was a combination of all of us working together.”
Smith finished with a team-high 22. Dittman (20), Huerta (19), Stowers (17) and Brown (12) were all in double digits.
Spokane CC 46 39 - 85
Big Bend 43 53 - 96
Spokane - Cameron Gay 19, Dedrick Pakootas 7, George Pilimai 4, Ryan Alexander 11, Cesar Sandoval 18, Lamar Harris 11, Isaiah Gotell 12, JR Delgado 3. Totals: 33-80 6-13 85
Big Bend - Mauricio Smith 22. Koby Huerta 19, Blake Dittman 20, DeAngelo Stowers 17, Miles Brown 12, Chris Hawkins 3, Jaden Brown 3. Totals: 36-69 12-17 96