It was a match-up of teams tied for first place in the Frontier Athletic Conference as the McClain Tigers visited Washington High School to take on the Blue Lions on a Tuesday night, one week before Christmas.
As could be expected, this game was a hard-fought battle between two long-time rivals, played before a large holiday crowd.
The Blue Lions were able to withstand an off night at the free throw line (10 of 22) as, propelled by a strong third quarter effort, they came out on the winning side, 54-47.
Washington is now 3-1 in the FAC, 4-2 overall.
McClain’s record is now 5-2 overall, 2-2 in the conference.
Washington senior Evan Upthegrove and McClain junior Garrison Banks shared game high-scoring honors for their respective teams, each with 20 points.
Junior Dalton Mischal scored 12 for the Tigers and senior Devin Carter also reached double figures in scoring with 10 points.
Also for the Blue Lions, a trio of seniors were next in scoring with Omar Porter having nine points and Dillon Steward and Blaise Tayese each scoring eight points.
“We overcame adversity tonight,” Washington head coach Connor Scott said. “McClain just plays so hard. I was worried if we would match that (intensity) and we did.”
The first-year coach mentioned Evan Upthegrove’s effort.
“The thing about Evan that makes him hard to guard is, he’s so strong and he can drive to the rim,” Scott said. “Evan plays both ends. He’s an incredible player.
“Miguel O’Flaherty gave us a spark off the bench,” Scott said. “Drew (Moats), who started tonight, played his heart out.
“It was a full team effort,” Scott said.
“Every coach on that sideline is darn proud of our basketball team,” McClain head coach Joe B. Stewart said. “We come to Court House on their floor. They’re coming off a loss. If they’re ever going to be really sharp coming off the deck, tonight’s going to be the night.
“We had a poor stretch there in the third quarter where we were not in our offense,” Stewart said. “That six minutes where they really stretched it out on us.
“We weren’t just right with them,” Stewart said. “We felt we were better for stretches of the basketball game. We were just one trip away from turning this one into a nail-biter.
“We can’t deal with 22-point quarters,” Stewart said. “They got in a rhythm, they really got it going and it took us too long to get it back, defensively.”
Washington held a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
McClain was on top at the half, 23-22.
The Blue Lions began the second half with a 7-0 run and back-to-back three-point buckets by Upthegrove stretched Washington’s lead to eight at 35-27.
Washington put together another 7-0 run in the third quarter to take a 42-30 lead with 45 seconds remaining.
The Blue Lions held a 44-32 lead after three complete.
Washington briefly led by 13 points, 46-33, but at that point, McClain slowly began its comeback bid.
Banks rebounded and scored for the Tigers and McClain took a pair of charges that delighted their partisans.
With 3:05 to play, Banks made two free throws to cut the lead to 48-40.
Mischal converted two charity tosses just seconds later to make it a two-possession game, 48-42.
Washington worked the lead back up to nine points with a free throw from Richie Burns.
Banks hit another three-pointer to keep McClain’s hopes alive at 51-45 with 50 seconds to play.
The Blue Lions made 3 of 6 free throws in the waning moments, which was enough to keep the Tigers at bay and preserve the victory.
McClain is back in action Saturday at Hillsboro with a day of boys and girls basketball action.
The same is true of Washington, who will host Miami Trace Saturday for a total of four basketball games, beginning with the j-v girls at 3 p.m. and following with j-v boys, varsity girls and finishing up with the varsity boys match-up.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 15 7 22 10 — 54
Mc 13 10 9 15 — 47
WASHINGTON — Dillon Steward 2 (1)-1-8; Evan Upthegrove 5 (2)-4-20; Miguel O’Flaherty 0-1-1; Blaise Tayese 3-2-8; Omar Porter 3 (1)-0-9; Drew Moats 1-0-2; Richie Burns 2-2-6. TOTALS — 16 (4)-10-54. Free throw shooting: 10 of 22 for 45 percent. Three-point field goals: Upthegrove, 2; Steward, Porter.
McCLAIN — Kobe Penwell 0-0-0; Bryson Badgley 0-0-0; Ethan Cockerill 2-1-5; Garrison Banks 4 (3)-3-20; Devin Carter 4-2-10; Reece Schluep 0-0-0; Dalton Mischal 3-6-12. TOTALS — 13 (3)-12-47. Free throw shooting: 12 of 16 for 75 percent. Three-point field goals: Banks, 3.