MOSES LAKE — Right now, Moses Lake is a work in progress.
The pieces are there, but they haven’t quite coalesced to start the season.
Defense and sound offense came in fits and starts in Moses Lake’s (0-2) home opener against Walla Walla, but a late comeback bid fell short in a 68-62 loss. Walla Walla led by as much as 18 points in the third quarter before Moses Lake closed to within four points near the end of the game.
“We weren’t ready to play defense like we should, or what we need to do,” head coach John Hohman said. “That’s the great thing about our defense — it can be the best defense in the world or it can be the worst. You saw what can happen.”
That Jekyll and Hyde mentality was evident from the opening tip.
Walla Walla scored on its first four possessions and led 9-2 early.
After a quick timeout, Moses Lake became more active on the defensive end and used an 11-4 run to tie the game, 13-13. Zach Phillips, who scored a 27 points, tied the game on a lay-up.
However, the Blue Devils closed the first quarter on a 7-0 spurt.
Walla Walla led by 14 points at halftime and extended its lead in the third quarter due in large part to the play of Dylan Sullivan. Sullivan came off the bench to score 15 points in the third quarter and 17 total.
The Chiefs whittled the lead down to 13 points after consecutive three-point plays from Dax Lindgren and Phillips.
“You see a guy go up he gets hammered and it still goes in, you just get so excited,” Phillips said. “You just run over and help them up and you just remember like that guy’s getting hit for you and you get hit for him.”
That energy carried over in the fourth quarter.
A Lindgren three-pointer cut the deficit to nine points. Logan Sperline drew a foul that put Walla Walla in the penalty with just under six minutes to play.
Despite ample opportunities, the Chiefs struggled from the free throw line down the stretch and finished just 10-of-19 for the game.
“They play hard enough,” Hohman said. “They just weren’t playing, again, not playing smart enough and I think part of it, too, we’re not at that point yet where maybe my expectations are pretty high for this group.”
Score by quarters
WW — 20 17 21 10 68
ML — 13 10 22 17 62
Phillips 27, Lindgren 10, Sperline 7, Cory Kunjara 6, Evan McLean 4, Kyler Karstetter 4, Michael Byers 4
Kennewick 81, Moses Lake 76
KENNEWICK — Moses Lake fell on the road to Kennewick 81-76.
Phillips led the Chiefs with 25 points; McLean and Kunjara scored 15 each.