CHILLICOTHE — There was a very serious moment in the Division II District championship game between the Washington Lady Blue Lions and Vinton County Lady Vikings Wednesday night at Southeastern High School.
It came with 4:24 remaining to be played in the third quarter.
The game was a battle the entire way, as befitting a championship test between two fine teams.
Suddenly, in the midst of the frenzy of play, Washington junior Rayana Burns went down to the floor, having sustained an ankle injury.
The injury time out lasted somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.
It was another dramatic moment in a game filled with them.
Washington was down by its biggest deficit, seven points, at 25-18.
Burns had scored previously to Hannah Haithcock’s rebound and stickback that had pulled Washington to within three points.
Burns then sank a free throw to make it 25-23.
As active as can be, Burns scored again off a turnover, only to be quickly followed by a basket from Vinton County.
With the margin at two points and both crowds fully immersed in the action, the injury occurred.
Washington would rally itself to the cause of their fallen point guard and went on to earn a very hard-fought 47-45 victory. The second District championship in the program’s history, the other coming in 1991.
Washington is now 20-5 on the year.
Vinton County finishes their outstanding campaign at 21-2.
“To say that I’m proud is an understatement,” Washington head coach Samantha Leach said. “The way that our girls fought tonight, especially after losing Rayana in the third quarter. The grit that they showed. We talked before the game about adversity. I think that’s the most adversity you can face in a game, losing one of your top players.
“I’m so proud of our senior class,” Leach said. “They just stepped up so big. They played together. Every player that came in did something that we needed. We got the stops when we needed to. We kept our heads when things weren’t going our way. They just kept fighting through the adversity. That was our quote today — ‘be fearless in the face of adversity.’ I’m just so proud of them.”
Leach spoke about the challenge of facing Vinton County.
“They penetrate really well and kick the ball out, that’s their offense,” Leach said. “Our goal was no uncontested threes. We had to get a hand in their face. My girls did a great job. They helped when they needed to. We closed out. We did a great job at the end, getting stops and steals.”
It’s been quite the journey back to the District championship after falling to Sheridan in the finals last year, 57-44.
“This really started for us over the summer,” Leach said of the drive to the District championship. “We had a great summer. We went to a lot of shoot-outs. We had a great preseason and it just kind of carried over into the season. These girls have put in so much work, I feel like they deserve this one.”
Washington trailed 13-9 at the end of the first quarter and 23-18 at the half.
Vinton County led 35-33 to start the fourth quarter.
“Seeing Rayana go down was really hard,” Hannah Haithcock said. “She’s our point guard, she’s our speed. She leads the game for us.
“We used that as motivation,” Haithcock said. “We wanted to play for her the rest of the game. We knew we deserved it. We work hard in the gym every single day. Just knowing that we could do it if we did our best and pushed ourselves and played for Rayana and played for each other, we knew that we could get that championship, for sure.”
Washington had 35 rebounds, including 12 offensive.
The Lady Lions had four assists, 10 steals and four blocked shots.
Rayana Burns had eight rebounds (three offensive), four steals, one assist and one blocked shot.
Bre Taylor had four rebounds and four steals.
Hannah Haithcock had 15 rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists.
Shawna Conger had four rebounds and one assist.
Halli Wall had two rebounds, one steal and one block.
Kassidy Hines had two rebounds and one steal.
Also for Washington, Hannah Haithcock scored 10 points, Tabby Woods had six, Bre Taylor and Halli Wall both scored five and Shawna Conger added four.
The Lady Lions will play in the Regional tournament Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. at Zanesville High School. They will play New Philadelphia who defeated Zanesville Maysville Saturday, March 2, 54-50.
Tickets ($6) for the game will be on sale at the high school today, Friday, and Monday from 8-11 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 9 9 15 14 — 47
VC 13 10 12 10 — 45
WASHINGTON — Rayana Burns 5-3-13; Bre Taylor 2-1-5; Kassidy Hines 2-0-4; Tabby Woods 2-2-6; Halli Wall 1 (1)-0-5; Shawna Conger 1-2-4; Hannah Haithcock 2 (1)-3-10. TOTALS — 15 (2)-11-47. Free throw shooting: 11 of 19 for 58 perent. Three-point field goals: Wall, Haithcock. Field goal shooting: 17 of 55 for 31 percent. Turnovers: 9.
VINTON COUNTY — Josie Ousley 4-1-9; Tegan Bartoe 1 (1)-0-5; Morgan Bentley 4 (3)-0-17; Lacie Williams 2 (1)-0-7; Cameron Zinn 2 (1)-0-78; Rylee Ousley 0-0-0. TOTALS — 13 (6)-1-45. Free throw shooting: 1 of 4 for 25 percent. Three-point field goals: Bentley, 3; Bartoe, Zinn, Williams. Field goal shooting: 19 of 51 for 37 percent. Turnovers: 10.