The Washington Lady Blue Lions have been searching for something all season.
They have been searching for their first win of the season and had a tough challenge set out before them when the Lady Tigers of McClain visited Washington High School on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon, Jan. 9.
Washington found what they were looking for in the form on a 40-37 win over McClain.
The Lady Lions took a 6-0 lead and never trailed in the game.
It was 7-5 Washington at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Lions outscored McClain, 15-8 in the second quarter to take a 22-13 halftime lead.
Washington led in the game twice by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter.
The Lady Lions held a 31-20 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Washington had to know a push was coming and McClain ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter, leading to some steals and transition buckets for the Lady Tigers.
McClain began the fourth with an 8-2 run to pull to within five points at 33-28.
The Lady Tigers had another steal and scored to cut Washington’s lead to 35-32 with 3:40 remaining.
The score stayed at 35-32 until McClain sophomore Payton Pryor grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 1:46 to play to cut the margin to one.
The Lady Lions turned the ball over on their next possession.
After a miss by McClain, a scramble for the loose ball ensued, resulting in a McClain foul.
Washington junior Aaralyne Estep went to the free throw line and made both throws to set the score at 37-34 with 1:11 to play in the game.
McClain went down the floor, but missed two shot attempts. A held ball gave possession to Washington with 59 seconds to go.
Washington promptly turned the ball over. McClain’s next shot attempt was no good and there followed a foul, sending Washington junior Jeleeya Smith to the line. She made one of two free throws to bring Washington’s lead up to four points with 42 seconds left.
McClain senior Jaelyn Pitzer made her team’s first three-point field goal of the game on the next trip down the floor. McClain called a time out with 34.7 seconds to play, trailing by one.
Washington again turned the ball over on the next possession.
McClain had two shot attempts on their next possession, but missed them both.
The Lady Tigers fouled with 15.8 seconds to play.
Smith made one of two free throws to put the score at 39-37.
McClain had another miss and fouled Washington senior Mallory Hicks. With 1.5 seconds on the scoreboard, Hicks made one of two throws.
The Lady Tigers had time and got a shot away, but it was short, giving Washington a hard-fought 40-37 victory.
Smith was the game’s leading scorer for Washington with 17 points.
Senior Emily Semler scored 10, Estep and Hicks both had four points, sophomore Allie Mongold scored three and freshman Calleigh Wead-Salmi scored two points.
For McClain, senior Brianna Weller led with 11 points.
Pryor and senior Kyla Burchett each scored seven points and senior Emma Stegbauer had three points.
“I’m extremely proud of our girls,” Washington head coach Samantha Bihl said. “I felt like they finally put together four quarters. Throughout our season so far, we’ve had games where we’ve played two really good quarters or three really good quarters, then we would kind of fall apart in one of those quarters. We were just never consistent for all four quarters.
“(This afternoon), they did a good job of just being consistent and being tough,” Bihl said. “This is our first win and we are excited about that. McClain is a great team.
“I thought our girls did a good job of just playing good defense, especially in the first half,” Bihl said. “The last time we played them, it was a completely different ball game.” Washington lost at McClain on Nov. 28, 66-14.
“Mentally, our girls were prepared,” Bihl said. “They executed our game plan and did a great job.”
“They wanted it more than we did for the first three quarters,” McClain head coach Jarrod Haines said in his post-game comments.
“Our effort in the fourth quarter is something we can build off of,” Haines said. “It goes to show that you just can’t show up and win. You can’t go through the motions. You have to play hard and execute. They did a better job than us in the first three quarters.
“Hats off to (Washington),” Haines said. “They held on and it’s a good win for them.”
McClain (8-2 overall, 3-1 in the Frontier Athletic Conference) is at Clinton-Massie Monday.
Washington (1-8 overall, 1-4 in the FAC) will host Hillsboro Wednesday with the j-v game starting at 5:30 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 7 15 9 9 — 40
Mc 5 8 7 17 — 37
WASHINGTON — Emily Semler 4-2-10; Aaralyne Estep 1-2-4; Allie Mongold 1-1-3; Mallory Hicks 0-4-4; Megan Sever 0-0-0; Alizae Ryan 0-0-0; Calleigh Wead-Salmi 1-0-2; Jeleeya Smith 4 (1)-6-17. TOTALS — 11 (1)-15-40. Free throw shooting: 15 of 22 for 68 percent. Three-point field goal: Smith. Field goal shooting: 12 of 35 for 34 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 1 of 3 for 33 percent. Turnovers: 24.
McCLAIN — Evelyn Vanzant 0-0-0; Brianna Weller 2-7-11; Payton Pryor 3-3-9; Jaylyn Pitzer 2 (1)-0-7; Josie Crabtree 0-0-0; Kyla Burchett 1-5-7; Emma Stegbauer 1-1-3; Madi Sykes 0-0-0. TOTALS — 9 (1)-16-37. Free throw shooting: 16 of 25 for 64 percent. Three-point field goal: Pitzer. Field goal shooting: 10 of 47 for 21 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 1 of 7 for 14 percent. Turnovers: 17.
Stats courtesy of Steve Vermillion
McClain wins j-v game
In Saturday’s junior-varsity game, McClain beat Washington, 34-12.
Trinity George led Washington with six points. Alizae Ryan had four points and Calleigh Wead-Salmi scored two.
For McClain, Lily Barnes led with eight points.
Luca Matesic and Haylee Havens both scored six points; Jaden McCoy scored five points, Nikkiah Smith had four points, Kaitlyn Jett and Sierra Barton both scored two points and Autumn White scored one.