Washington denies Keokuk
KEOKUK – The Keokuk High School’s girls’ varsity basketball team had a shot at winning the Southeast Conference title outright in front of their home crowd against a foe they just had just five days earlier defeated on its home court. The Washington High School’s girls’ varsity basketball team needed someone to step up for them in a road conference game to gain some confidence heading into regional tournaments.
Sophomore Amber Salow turned in one of her best offensive performances of the season to lead the Demons to a 32 – 30 victory in the battle of wills between Keokuk and Washington and denied the Chiefs the chance at clinching the title outright on their own court.
The Chiefs got out to a 12 – 5 lead in the first quarter and continued to stymie the Washington offense in the second, leading to a 19 – 9 halftime advantage for the home team.
“We missed quite a few close-range shots in the first half but it was great that we were able to get such good looks,” Washington head coach Phil Long commented.
In the second half the Demons found some more offense, scoring 11 in the third quarter. Washington also stepped up its defensive efforts, limiting Keokuk to six points in the quarter. The score at the beginning of the fourth quarter was 25 – 20 with the Chiefs eight minutes away from a conference championship.
After a series of missed shots by both teams, the Demons made an adjustment to begin to apply full-court pressure in the last 2:30 of the game.
“[Junior] Sydney Hoffman in the middle of our 2 – 3 zone was phenomenal on defense. She’s a bit undersized there but she played very well,” Long said.
The Demon defense held Keokuk to 1/24 from 3-point range, including shutting out Keokuk junior Lakyn Boltz, one of the conference’s top scorers from downtown, on the night to limit the Chiefs’ scoring. The turnovers created by the press led to a lay-up by senior Dema Giardino with just over 30 seconds to play to tie the game at 30.
Washington got a steal on Keokuk’s next possession and Salow’s jumper sank as she was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining. Keokuk missed its desperate heave from over half-court to end the game.
“We got some solid minutes from [sophomore] Addie [Pacha] tonight. Dema did a great job of running the offense and [senior Stephanie] Fishback was Fishback. We’ll practice over the next few days and get ready to hopefully knock off another great conference foe in Mount Pleasant,” Long added.
As a team Washington shot 23 percent (12/52) from the field, 4/20 from 3-point range and 4/9 from the free-throw line. The Demons totaled 31 rebounds, six assists and 18 steals.
Salow had four rebounds to lead Washington. Senior Grace Redlinger made three assists. Giardino and Redlinger each had four steals. Pacha blocked a shot.
The Demons are now 12 – 7 overall, 3 – 3 in the SEC. Washington plays at Mount Pleasant on Friday, Feb. 14. If the Demons prevail, Keokuk will still win the SEC conference title outright. If Mount Pleasant wins the Chiefs and Panthers will share the championship.