Washington pulls away
Up until late in the third quarter, the Washington basketball team was teetering on a slim 1-point lead.
In fact, Mid-Prairie had two chances to take the lead with free shots after it got in the bonus. With Washington leading 32-31 the Hawks missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and had a lane violation after making the first free throw when they trailed 34-33.
From there Washington took a 40-34 lead to close the quarter and never looked back in a 54-44 win against Mid-Prairie, Tuesday.
Senior guard Dema Giardino scored 6 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 17 points.
“A lot of that was from attacking the basket,” Long said.
In the first half she converted her first career 4-point play after knocking down her 3-pointer and free throw.
Her two free throws capped a 9-2 run that began at the end of the third quarter.
“I was told to attack,” Giardino said. “I had a tricky first quarter and wasn’t making anything.”
The closest the Golden Hawks would get the rest of the way was four points.
There were five ties in the game including four in the first half and two first-half lead changes.
Mid-Prairie hung around all game but couldn’t take control with a basket or convert from the free-throw line.
“We only play them once or twice a year, so we want to beat them every chance we get,” Giardino said. “It is a high for our team that we really enjoy.”
Washington head coach Phil Long said all the games this season are likely to come down to the wire. He referenced this as the reason for his gray hair.
“We are not going to beat anybody badly this year,” Long said. “We can win every game we are in. They will always be close games. A 10-point victory is a 50-point victory for us.”
The charity stripe and scoring continues to haunt the Demons, which could be seen as a good problem since Washington is getting to the line frequently. According to Long, Washington’s 48 free-throw attempts is a school record. Washington only cashed in on 58 percent of its attempts.
“We got to the line and make some more free throws — it is maybe a 15- or 18-point game,” Long said.
While Giardino got to the basket at will to shoulder the scoring load in the second half, junior guard Stephanie Fishback kept Washington in the game in the first half.
She finished with 13 points, 12 of which came in the opening half.
“Stephanie has been sicker than a dog with a virus since last Friday,” Long said. “She missed practice and then came sick Saturday (to the WACO scrimmage). To work that hard for as many minutes as she is playing with her head and chest plugged up, she is a warrior.”
Giardino continues to be the primary ball handler for the first year for the Demons. Long said she needs to do a better job of controlling the game.
“I got to teach her more about clock management,” Long said. “Sometimes we were pushing the tempo when we needed to take the air out of the ball.”
Giardino dished out a team-leading three assists.
Senior Grace Redlinger fouled out of the game after playing a new position on the full-court press.
“I think she understands more that she is going to have to play more with her hands than her feet,” Long said. “To score 54 — and Grace is on the bench most of the game — that is a pretty good sign that my bench was pretty solid.”
Senior forward Addisen Shive was the catalyst of the reserves and led the team with 12 rebounds and three steals.
“Shive was just huge for us on the boards,” Long said. “She got more minutes tonight than she has had all season. She was a horse in there.”
Redlinger and Giardino had eight rebounds, Fisback, junior Sydney Hoffman and junior Rachael Halls had seven rebounds, each.
Washington held the Hawks scoreless in the first four minutes and to 27 percent shooting for the game.
Junior Taylor Kurtz had a team-high eight rebounds for Mid-Prairie.
Washington travels to Williamsburg, Thursday, for an 8 p.m. start.