ATHENS — The Washington Blue Lions made their return to the Convocation Center for the first time since 2010 Thursday night.
Their opponent, the Fairfield Union Falcons, played at the Convo last year, getting knocked out of the tournament in the District finals by Fairland.
In 2010, the Blue Lions lost in the first round of the District tournament to Warren, 55-51.
Their last win in the Convo came in 2002, a 69-58 win over Gallia Academy that gave the Blue Lions their most recent of four District titles in the program’s history.
Thursday it was just not the Blue Lions’ night as the Falcons (16-8) advanced, 50-39.
In the evening’s first District semifinal, Zane Trace defeated Athens, 48-28.
The District championship game is Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m. back at the Convocation Center.
Washington completes the 2018-19 season with a record of 15-9.
Senior Evan Upthegrove led the Blue Lions with 12 points.
Senior Blaise Tayese scored 11.
Senior Richie Burns hit two three-point field goals for six points.
Senior Omar Porter hit one three for his three points on the night.
Junior Garett Leisure scored five, including hitting one three-pointer and junior Drew Moats scored two.
Junior Eli Lynch also saw playing time on the Bobcats’ hardwood.
For the Falcons, junior Chase Poston hit three treys and scored a total of 17 points. Junior Huston Harrah scored 15, senior Evan Conley had nine and sophomore Ryan Magill added seven points.
“I thought we played three really good quarters tonight,” Washington head coach Connor Scott said. “I thought our second quarter really did us in.
“They really hit a lot of tough shots in the second quarter,” Scott said. “They pushed their lead to 16 at one point in the second quarter and we got it to 12 at halftime, which was manageable.
“We talked at halftime about taking the game four minutes at a time,” Scott said. “We looked at it as four, four-minutes sessions to try and get the game back close.
“I really couldn’t ask for much more than the effort our guys gave in the second half,” Scott said. “(Fairfield Union has) been to the District finals four years in a row for a reason. They weren’t surprised by anything that the Convo had. It’s something they do every year and they just seemed more comfortable in the first half than we did.
“Once our guys settled in and got the feel of the game, we were down by four with about three minutes to go,” Scott said. “We had a three-pointer rim out. Richie hit two big threes there. If that third one goes, that would really have put some pressure on them.
“Evan Upthegrove was absolutely unbelievable tonight,” Scott said. “If he wasn’t the best player on the court, we might have gotten beat by 30. He really kept us in it in the first half.”
There were five lead changes to begin the game.
The Blue Lions led 7-6 with 4:08 to play in the first quarter.
It would be the last time Washington enjoyed a lead in this game.
The Falcons proceeded to go on a 21-4 run to take a 27-11 lead with 3:10 to play until halftime.
Upthegrove hit a shot just before the buzzer for Washington to put the score at 29-17 at the half.
The Blue Lions came out and played their best defense of the night in the third quarter, holding Fairfield Union to just six points.
The Falcons were still playing well on the defensive side, with Washington scoring eight points to put the third quarter score at 35-23.
The Blue Lions were down by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter.
However, Washington kept fighting and began to gain ground on the Falcons.
Burns hit a three with 5:10 remaining and Tayese scored at the 3:35 mark.
After Fairfield Union missed the front end of a one-and-one, Burns drained another three, more than keeping hopes alive for the Blue Lions.
Washington trailed 39-35 with 3:08 remaining.
The teams traded baskets with Fairfield Union holding a 41-37 lead after Tayese scored with 1:40 left in the game.
Washington could get no closer than within four points.
Fairfield Union made 5 of 6 from the line in the final minute of play to seal the win.
For the game, the Falcons were 8 of 12 from the line to Washington’s 1 of 4.
“I told the guys after the game that I don’t want them to remember this season just for this last game,” Scott said. “They accomplished so much.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year, one of them, was to win 15 games,” Scott said. “We also had a goal of winning a District title. One of our initial goals was to make it to the Convo.
“I told them after the game, if I coach for 30 years, this will always be my first team,” Scott said. “The seniors laid some groundwork for the following years. I hope our younger guys can learn from this experience and expect to come back here every year.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 9 8 8 14 — 39
FU 15 14 6 15 — 50
WASHINGTON — Evan Upthegrove 6-0-12; Blaise Tayese 5-1-11; Garitt Leisure 1 (1)-0-5; Omar Porter 0 (1)-0-3; Drew Moats 1-0-2; Richie Burns 0 (2)-0-6; Eli Lynch 0-0-0. TOTALS — 13 (4)-1-39. Free throw shooting: 1 of 4 for 25 percent. Three-point field goals: Burns, 2; Leisure, Porter. Field goal shooting: 17 of 49 for 35 percent. Turnovers: 9.
FAIRFIELD UNION — Evan Conley 4-1-9; Ryan Magill 1 (1)-2-7; Seth Cooperider 0-0-0; Jacob Baker 0-0-0; Chase Poston 3 (3)-2-17; Andrew Moll 1-0-2; Huston Harrah 6-3-15. TOTALS — 15 (4)-8-50. Free throw shooting: 8 of 12 for 67 percent. Three-point field goals: Poston, 3; Magill. Field goal shooting: 19 of 40 for 48 percent. Turnovers: 9.