LEESBURG — The Washington Blue Lions are getting in the habit of winning close games.
They won on a buzzer beater at Vinton County on Feb. 2, 44-42 then defeated Unioto, 44-42 on Feb. 5.
On Feb. 9, they beat Miami Trace, 50-48 on a shot at the buzzer and Tuesday night, Washington won another nail-biter, 61-59 at Fairfield High School.
Washington had to come from behind in this game as they trailed 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.
It was still an uphill climb for the Blue Lions by the halftime break as they trailed, 32-23.
The third quarter marked the turnaround as Washington scored 21 points to 12 for the red and white Lions. That tied the score, 44-44 with eight minutes remaining.
It was a slow start for Washington as they trailed 9-0 two minutes into the game.
“Evan (Upthegrove), Richie (Burns) and Miguel (O’Flaherty) carried us with their energy in the first half,” Washington head coach Connor Scott said. “We made a big run to close the third quarter and Miguel beat the buzzer to tie the game.
“I was proud of our perseverance in the fourth quarter,” Scott said. “We battled through missed lay-ups and fatigue and played hard. (Give) credit to Leesburg. They made it difficult with several zones defensively. It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win.”
Upthegrove led the game with 21 points. He hit three of the team’s five three-point field goals.
Burns scored 14 points, while O’Flaherty and Omar Porter each added seven points.
Sam Buddlemeyer led a trio of Fairfield players in double figures with 17 points. Bryson Simmons scored 16 and Wyatt Willey had 15 points.
Washington (now 14-6) will play at Grandview Heights Thursday and at McClain Saturday. Both evenings start with the j-v game at 6 p.m.
The Blue Lions play Unioto in the Sectional tournament Friday, Feb. 22 at 8:30 p.m. at Southeastern High School. A win in that game will earn the Blue Lions a Sectional championship and advance them to the District semifinals at the Convocation Center at Ohio University in Athens for an 8 p.m. game on Feb. 28.
Basketball tournament tickets are currently on sale at the high school’s athletic office from 8 until 11 a.m. and from 1 until 3 p.m. weekdays.
Tickets are $5 each and the school gets to keep a portion of the proceeds.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 12 11 21 17 — 61
F 18 14 12 15 — 59
WASHINGTON — Evan Upthegrove 4 (3)-4-21; Miguel O’Flaherty 3-1-7; Eli Lynch 0-1-1; Blaise Tayese 3-0-6; Garitt Leisure 1 (1)-0-5; Karson Runk 0-0-0; Omar Porter 1 (1)-2-7; Drew Moats 0-0-0; Richie Burns 5-4-14. TOTALS — 17 (5)-12-61. Free throw shooting: 12 of 20 for 60 percent. Three-point field goals: Upthegrove, 3; Leisure, Porter.
FAIRFIELD — Austin Setty 2-0-4; Sam Buddlemeyer 8-1-17; Wyatt Willey 5 (1)-2-15; Ethan Saunders 0-0-0; Bryson Simmons 4 (2)-2-16; Connor Priest 1-2-4; James Bentley 1-0-2. TOTALS — 21 (3)-7-59. Free throw shooting: 7 of 13 for 54 perent. Three-point field goals: Simmons, 2; Willey.