The Washington Blue Lions began the postseason with a Sectional championship game at home against the Unioto Shermans Friday night.
The Blue Lions led by as many as 16 points early in the third quarter.
The Shermans whittled that margin down to only three points with 5:24 to play in the game.
At that point, the Blue Lions maintained and began to extend the lead back out until time expired with Washington posting a 67-51 victory.
The win improves Washington to 13-7 on the season.
The Blue Lions will play in the District semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Southeastern High School against the McClain Tigers.
McClain, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, held off the No. 15 seed Marietta Friday to notch a 52-48 win.
Friday’s win was the second by the Blue Lions over Unioto this season. Washington played at Unioto back on Nov. 30 and won that game, 56-48.
Last night, Washington senior Reico Colter led with 23 points.
Sophomore Isaiah Haithcock had 21 points, juniors Raleigh Haithcock and Tanner Lemaster each scored eight points, sophomore John Wall had six points and freshman Micah Brown scored one.
Senior DeSean Branson led the game for Unioto with 25 points.
Freshman Blake Hoops scored nine points and senior Evan Park scored seven points.
Unioto finishes the season with a record of 12-10.
“Our guys were really focused,” Washington head coach Shannon Bartruff said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. It was cool to be able to play in front of our community and all the fans, all the people who love and care about these kids. To be able to cut the nets down in front of them is pretty special.
“I’m super-excited for our guys,” Bartruff said. “They handled a lot of adversity tonight. We had a bunch of guys step up tonight.
“Isaiah was phenomenal,” Bartruff said. “His energy was great. Reico is Reico. He does it on both ends of the floor. He kept his poise, kept his composure, kept us together.
“John is John, he’s just so steady,” Bartruff said. “He makes the right play, he knocks down shots, he guards. Raleigh, I call him Junkyard Dog. He’s always doing the dirty work. He does a great job of boxing out guys who are bigger than him. Man, he hit a huge three there in the fourth quarter (when the Blue Lions were leading by just three points with five minutes remaining). He rebounded great.
“And Tanner, even when Tanner is only scoring eight or 10 points, he does so much more for us,” Bartruff said. “He guards, he’s huge in the paint. Most teams have to commit two guys to him. When he’s big and physical in the paint, it opens everything else up for our perimeter guys. He sets great screens and he’s been rebounding the heck out of the ball for about a month.
“We have four or five guys who can score in double figures on any given night,” Bartruff said. “It’s hard to key on us, on one guy, because, a lot of people devote attention to Reico, you get him in the open court and he’s going to make the right play nine out of 10 times. He’s phenomenal (with the pull-up jumper).
“Micah gave us some great minutes off the bench, too,” Bartruff said. “He’s just a freshman but he came in and he played tough. He got some huge rebounds. He made some nice plays against their zone early in the game.
“I’m proud of everybody who got in the game,” Bartruff said. “I didn’t have to say anything tonight, they were ready to go to work.
“We’ve got more work to do,” Bartruff said. “We’ve had two absolute battles with McClain. We need a couple days of rest and a good week of prep.”
In other Division II Sectional tournament games Friday, Gallia Academy defeated Miami Trace, 79-58; Logan Elm beat Hillsboro, 54-46; Jackson knocked off Fairfield Union, 37-32; Warren trounced New Lexington, 56-29; Waverly topped Athens, 77-48 and Sheridan beat Vinton County, 65-37.
The District semifinal match-ups at Southeastern H.S. on Feb. 26 are: Waverly vs Warren, 1 p.m.; Logan Elm vs Jackson, 3:30 p.m.; Washington vs McClain, 6 p.m. and Gallia Academy vs Sheridan, 8:30 p.m. The starting times for the second, third and fourth games are approximate.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 15 19 12 21 — 67
U 11 9 20 11 — 51
WASHINGTON — Reico Colter 8 (1)-4-23; John Wall 0 (2)-0-6; Brayden May 0-0-0; Raleigh Haithcock 1 (2)-0-8; Garrett Rickman 0-0-0; Troy Thompson 0-0-0; Micah Brown 0-1-1; Coleden May 0-0-0; Tanner Lemaster 3-2-8; Isaiah Haithcock 10-1-21. TOTALS — 22 (5)-8-67. Free throw shooting: 8 of 13 for 62 percent. Three-point field goals: Wall, 2; R. Haithcock, 2; Colter. Field goal shooting: 27 of 46 for 59 percent. Turnovers: 9.
UNIOTO — Braxton Platt 0-0-0; Zeke Schobelock 0 (1)-0-3; Newton Hoops 0-0-0; DeSean Branson 10 (1)-2-25; Blake Hoops 2 (1)-2-9; Ben Spetnagel 0 (1)-0-3; Evan Park 0-7-7; Gabe Corcoran 0-0-0; Nathan Morrison 0-0-0; Jordan Perkins 1-2-4. TOTALS — 13 (4)-13-51. Free throw shooting: 13 of 18 for 72 percent. Three-point field goals: Schobelock, Branson, B. Hoppes, Spetnagel. Field goal shooting: 17 of 46 for 37 percent. Turnovers: 12.