Washington girls finish season on roll
The Washington High School girls’ varsity basketball team seems to be peaking at the right time, having won their last four consecutive regular season games. On Friday, Feb. 14 they denied Mt. Pleasant a chance at sharing the Southeast Iowa Conference title by defeating the Panthers 52 – 46 on their home court. On Saturday, Feb. 15 the Demons finished the regular season with a 43 – 37 home victory over Fort Madison.
“We had to stop teams ... in the paint,” Washington’s Grace Redlinger said. “Lots of teams were getting points from their tall girls. We have to focus on moving fast, on moving the ball quickly.”
The Demons learned from their last game against Mt. Pleasant, and of Friday, they had to make a couple of big changes.
“Last time we tried to box and 1 (Taryne) Shull,” Washington head coach Phil Long said.
That didn’t work out well for the Demons, as three other Panthers scored in double figures to lead the Panthers to a 61-51 win.
This time, the Demons adjusted their defense and took advantage of the fact that the Panthers are missing a senior guard, Natalie Myers, who is out for the season with a knee injury and was one of the Panthers in double figures during the last game against Washington.
“We played a 2-3 zone to keep them out of the lane,” Long said. “And (playing without Myers), that’s a big difference. Take a guard out, and they’re more sussceptible to turnovers.”
The Panthers’ height helped them win the rebounding battle, 33-26, and 18 of the Panthers’ rebounds were under their own basket — but it didn’t do them much good.
“We missed so many putbacks — more than we ever have,” Mt. Pleasant Coach Joanna Setttles said. “We did a phenomenal job getting offensive rebounds, but we were unable to put them away.”
It was the story of the whole game for the Panthers.
“We didn’t score,” Settles said. “We played catch-up the entire game. We had some momentum in the fourth quarter but were never able to catch them.”
The Panthers missed five straight free throws early in the final quarter, which hurt their momentum and helped Washington seal the win.
Early in the game, neither team did much scoring — after the first six minutes, the Demons were up 5-0.Mt. Pleasant got on the board with a 3-pointer by Natalie Ita with 1:36 left in the quarter. Washington led 23-16 at halftime.
Saturday’s home game brought Washington an opportunity to finish the season on a roll and with a winning record in conference contests. The Bloodhounds used their size advantage and crashed the offensive boards to build a 12 – 10 lead through the first quarter.
The Demon defense tightened up in the second quarter limiting Fort Madison to only seven points but missed opportunities on the offensive end prevented Washington from exploiting the Bloodhounds’ struggles. At halftime the score was 19 – 18, Fort Madison leading.
The third quarter was a different story for Washington on offense, especially the last minute. The Demons ended the quarter on a 7 – 0 run to turn a 30 – 29 deficit into a 36 – 30 lead.
“We saved our special press for that point in the game. I thought we had Fort Madison a little leg-weary and we pulled it out and that run turned out to be the difference in the game,” Long added.
Both teams played tight defensively in the fourth quarter as the two squads combined for only 10 points in the final eight minutes of the game.
“We got three quality wins in a week. We just played three tough games, two of them on the road and what better time to peak than right now. If this doesn’t give us confidence then we’re obviously doing the wrong thing. We need to work on our free-thow shooting still, but it’s going to be good to get Addisen Shive back in the lineup for Wednesday,” Long commented.
Washington ends the regular season at 14 – 7 overall, 5 -3 in conference games. The Demons host Fairfield on Wednesday, Feb. 19 in the first round of regional tournament play.