Demons find their way
With the Washington girls’ basketball team trailing 43-38 against Eddyville-Blakesburg Monday, it mounted a last-minute comeback.
First junior Sydney Hoffman split a pair of free throws. On the next play senior Dema Giardino stole the ball in the backcourt and made a layup.
Washington got the ball back, but senior Grace Redlinger stepped on the sideline with 22.7 seconds remaining. Redlinger would make up for this miscue.
The Demons refused to show any quit as they forced a turnover. This set the stage for a game-tying layup from Giardino in the final 10 seconds. Giardino persevered after missing a shot earlier in the final minute.
“Dema, my point guard, attacked when the opportunity rose,” head coach Phil Long said. “I thought at one point she got a lot of body with no call. But she sprinted back on defense and got us a stop.”
Giardino had 15 points
Junior Stephanie Fishback drew backboard on a 30-footer at the end of regulation.
The overtime session came down to a battle at the charity stripe.
Washington proved to have the legs and endurance to win this battle.
The Rockets missed its last four free throws.
“That is a tired leg thing,” Long said. “When you get to the line… especially air balls, it played out how we hoped it would.”
Redlinger went 3-for-4 down the stretch and Fishback split a pair.
“I think every game will be close,” Redlinger said. “We really didn’t want to lose. At the end we realized that we were getting close. We can make our free throws. That is what got us ahead. They just choked.”
Redlinger finished with a game-high 18 points.
Eddyville missed an open 3-pointer late that would have tied the game.
Washington held on for a 49-45 win in the season opener.
“I don’t think we could have shot the ball worse and still won,” Long said. “The old motto ‘find a way’ kind of played out today.”
Washington made just 12 field goals all game.
With an up-tempo, constant pressure Washington ultimately wore the Rockets down.
“We can’t offensively blow anybody out of the gym,” Long said. “But if we scramble for 32 minutes, we can press you and wear you down.”
Quarters one, four and overtime had two lead changes. There were seven ties in the game.
After leading in the first quarter Washington didn’t hold a lead until there was 4:08 left in the game. Giardino had an and-1 put back on the team’s third shot of the possession.
“We were playing catch up,” Long said. “My kids are going to have to get used to that, I’m going to have to get used to that. We are going to get better.”
Eddyville answered with a 9-0 run to build a 38-32 lead.
Two more timely free throws from Redlinger made it 40-38, before Washington completed the comeback.
“We stepped to the line and made some free throws down the stretch,” Long said.
“Prior to the game I told them we win ugly,” Long said. “Play to the fourth quarter and hope that we are quicker to the ball and can finish. That is what today turned out to be.”
Washington typically would have had more minutes before the season opener, but didn’t due to the football team’s state run.
“We are a long way from peaking,” Long said. “We have a lot ahead of us.”
“Several years we start out losing to Eddyville. We never got the Jamboree, because we were playing football that night. We didn’t go to Mid-Prairie for the first time to put the uniforms on. We were a little bit scared.”
Long tested the waters with a new defense at halftime, but the defense never clicked for Washington.
“I put them in junk box on defense,” Long said. “I should have never done that. They exploited us on lane cuts. I apologized to them after that. I tried to teach it at halftime.”
Redlinger said her team expects to be in many more last-second games.
“We talked about how all games are going to be close battles,” Redlinger said.