Demons topple Trojans
Familiarity in sports can be a positive or negative depending on the situation. The old axiom about it is that it’s hard to beat a team three times inside of one season. That was the task the Washington High School varsity girls’ basketball team was faced with in its regional tournament opening game. The Demons hosted their Southeast Conference opponent Fairfield on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Back on Dec. 13, Washington hosted the Trojans and defeated them 54 – 43. Over a month later on Jan. 24, Fairfield hosted the Demons and Washington prevailed 58 – 51. Those two games set a stage for the regional quarterfinal between the Demons and Trojans to carry the story line of whether or not Washington would be able to pull off the trifecta or would Fairfield prove the saying, it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, to be true.
After eight minutes of basketball had been played there were no indications of which team would prevail. The first quarter ended in a 10 – 10 tie and the score was indicative of how the game had gone to that point. Neither team was getting second-chance opportunities and both teams were committing turnovers. The lead had changed hands four times during the quarter.
In the second quarter Fairfield sophomore Mackenzie Flattery, freshman Sami Fritz and junior Mackenzie McClure got hot from behind the arc and used it to build their lead to four points early in the second quarter.
“In the first two times we faced Fairfield I either triangle-and-two’d them or box-and-one’d them so they wouldn’t get those looks. Once they started hitting I didn’t want their confidence to grow, so we went back to the triangle-and-two defense,” Washington head coach Phil Long said.
The Demons then tightened up their defense, forcing Fairfield to turn the ball over on three consecutive possessions while Washington senior Addisen Shive went to work on the offensive end.
“Our girls did a great job of getting the great looks but we got into too much of a hurry and committed too many turnovers. We were effective at getting the looks that we wanted. We had two-on-ones, three-on-ones ,but instead of attacking we wanted to throw the ball way too early,” Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery said.
When Demon junior Dylann Schluetter hit her free throw to end the first half, Washington held a 29 – 22 lead.
Fairfield was able to eat into the Demon lead at times in the third quarter, but Washington had a run of their own to answer with and the Demons held a 38 – 33 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Trojans went on a 5 – 0 run to start the fourth quarter and tied the game at 38 with just over five minutes left to play. On the following Trojan possession Washington senior Grace Redlinger got hold of a loose ball and passed it down the court to her classmate Dema Giardino, who laid it in and took the momentum back for Washington.
McClure re-tied the game at 40 on a jump shot with just over three minutes left to play.
“What a game by Mackenzie McClure. In tournament games you always have to have an x-factor. Tournament games aren’t always going to go as you draw them up. You try to survive and advance. Tonight she was really confident, dribble-drove and got to the foul line really well,” M. Flattery commented.
Washington came down the court and after several passes Demon senior Stephanie Fishback got an open look for three points and hit to give Washington a 43 – 40 lead with 2:12 showing on the clock.
“The scouting report said that Fairfield would sag off them [Fishback and Schluetter] at the 3-point line and not guard them closely. I told them that should be an insult to them. She [Fishback] never even thought about it, just caught it and let it go,” Long commented.
The last two minutes of the game were characterized by missed shot attempts by the Trojans and the Demons hitting their free throws to put the game on ice.
Washington moves on to play at Grinnell on Saturday, Feb. 22 for a spot in the regional final against the winner of Ballard/Pella. Fairfield finishes the season at 11 – 11.
“We’ll get two full practices with our post players and that will allow us to feature that part of our offense more on Saturday,” Long added.
“We lose four great seniors but we have a lot of kids that got a lot of playing time this year. We’ve played girls from all four classes on our varsity team this season. The cupboard obviously isn’t bare, but we have a lot of work to do to get to the next level,” M. Flattery explained.