Dillon's last-second basket ties Demons with West Branch
WELLMAN — Washington senior Beth Dillon drove the baseline for a layup with two seconds remaining that tied the Demons 16-16 with West Branch at Tuesday night’s Mid-Prairie Jamboree.
Washington head coach Phil Long said his team was lucky to get the tie.
“If you look at the stat line, I don’t know how we didn’t get blown out by 20,” Long said. “But we got a tie, and the kids got a chance to put the uniform on.”
Washington was 7-for-21 from the field and a dismal 3-for-11 from the free-throw line in the two-quarter exhibition. The Demons turned the ball over 16 times in 16 minutes. And they were in serious foul trouble, putting the Bears into the bonus midway through the first quarter. In short, the Demons have a lot to work on before next Monday’s season-opener at Eddyville-Blakesburg.
“We need to work on ball handling, passing and shooting — the basic fundamentals,” Long said. “Just don’t turn it over and shoot with confidence. We’re just chucking it right now, not shooting with confidence. We’re just shooting and hoping it goes in.”
Washington’s first six shots in Tuesday’s exhibition didn’t go in, and the Demons fell behind 6-0. Finally, junior Grace Redlinger got a steal and a layup with 2:11 left in the first quarter to break the ice for the Demons. Junior Dema Giardino banked in a short jumper and senior Johannah Vittetoe put back a missed shot, tying the game at 6-6 after one quarter of play.
Junior Addie Shive made one of two free throws early in the second quarter to give Washington a 9-8 lead, its first advantage of the game. From there the two teams traded the lead until Vittetoe made one of two free throws with 41.3 seconds remaining to tie the game 14-14.
West Branch center Danielle Gould drew a foul with 16.1 seconds remaining, and calmly sank two free throws to put the Bears up by two. But Dillon drove to the hoop and scored in the waning seconds to tie the score.
“They called a timeout with 16 seconds to go, and we were out of timeouts at that point,” Long said. “I said, ‘If she makes both, we’re only down two, and we’ll run our pickle set. That play looks for a three, but if they’re guarding you, you can dribble by them and go to the basket.’ Beth dribbled by the defender and laid it in. That’s a senior for you.”
The Demons will need more of that aggressiveness on the offensive end when the regular season begins. After losing their top three scorers from last season’s 18-5 squad, no Washington players seemed to step up and carry the scoring load at Tuesday’s Jamboree. Giardino scored four points to lead the Demons. Vittetoe and Shive added three points apiece. Dillon, Redlinger and senior Mariah Reighard each chipped in two points.
“I need two or three people to step up and want the ball in their hands in crucial situations,” Long said. “But I think anybody could lead us any night with six, eight or 10 points. I don’t know if we’re going to have anybody who is going to score 16 points a night this year.”
The Demons used their defense to make up for their lack of offensive firepower. Washington forced the Bears into 17 turnovers in two quarters. Junior Stephanie Fishback had three steals in the half, while Redlinger and seniors Lauren Kimball and Natalee Enfield had two apiece.
“We went 0-for-7 from the 3-point line and 3-for-11 from the free-throw line. You look at that and say, ‘You lost by six or eight.’ So our defense kept us in the game,” Long said.
While the Demons have a lot of work to do before Monday’s season-opener, Long was pleased that his team played West Branch, a team that finished 14-9 last season and should be even better this season, to a tie.
“I think West Branch will probably come out in the top 10 in Class 2A from what I’ve heard,” Long said.