Golden Hawks top Demons in a defensive struggle
WELLMAN — This season Washington head girls’ basketball coach Phil Long began sending his game tapes to a company that compiles the game statistics and sends them back to him in a spreadsheet.
Long isn’t going to want to look at the numbers that come back following Tuesday’s game.
The 10th-ranked Demons shot a woeful 9-for-42 from the field in a 30-22 loss to No. 9 Mid-Prairie.
“It’s a good thing we weren’t getting beat by 20 or 25,” Long said.
Mid-Prairie head coach Marc Pennington, on the other hand, didn’t care that his team shot even worse — 9-for-47 — from the field in the game. His team won the contest.
“I don’t care what it looks like. A win’s a win,” he said. “We’ll take it.”
But it was an ugly win. The game was tied 7-7 at halftime after the two teams combined to shoot 12 percent from the field in the game’s first 16 minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Long said. “I laughed and said to Coach Pennington as we went into the locker room, ‘It’s 7-7, dude. It’s a football game. It’s 7-to-7 at halftime. We both should be ashamed of ourselves.’ We just both laughed and headed into the locker room.”
Mid-Prairie (2-0) made its deciding run in the third quarter. With the score tied 9-9, senior Erika Murphy drained a 3-pointer and then senior Mariah Swartzentruber came up with a steal and buried a jumper. After a Washington turnover, sophomore Taylor Kurtz hit a jumper in the lane.
Washington senior Lauren Kimball answered with a 3-pointer to trim Mid-Prairie’s lead to 16-12, but the Golden Hawks scored seven unanswered points to close out the third quarter and take a 23-12 lead into the fourth.
“That’s kind of what we did last year a little bit,” Pennington said of his team’s scoring run. “In a tight game we’d get an eight- to 10-point spurt. At halftime I told our kids if we can get one of those, in a game like this where it’s such a war, an eight- or 10-point lead will feel like 20.”
Mid-Prairie’s run was fueled by Washington’s nine turnovers in the third quarter.
“There’s nine turnovers, and we lost by four possessions. You do the math,” Long said.
The Demons (2-1) couldn’t get Mid-Prairie’s lead under eight points in the final quarter.
“We lost by four possessions,” Long said. “We couldn’t have played any more horribly and lost by [only] four possessions.”
Senior Johannah Vittetoe scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Demons. Junior Stephanie Fishback added four points and seven boards, while senior Sammy Ellingson and junior Grace Redlinger also scored four points apiece.
Mid-Prairie’s suffocating defense didn’t give the Demons too many good looks at the basket in the contest.
“We just try to pressure the ball for 32 minutes if we can, both in the full court and the half court,” Pennington said. “We want to challenge shots, and I thought we did that for the most part.”
“We played pretty nervous the whole time, especially offensively,” Long said.
Murphy scored a game-high 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Mid-Prairie. Senior Olivia Lugar had four points and four steals off the Golden Hawk bench, and Kurtz, another reserve, had four points and six rebounds.
Washington had defeated Mid-Prairie by 15 and 25 points in the teams’ two meetings last season.
“They’re a top 10 team in 4A, so it’s a good win for our kids,” Pennington said.
Even if it was a bit ugly.