By Craig Vonder Haar

Missourian Sports Writer

Nearly halfway through the conference schedule, Washington has proven itself to be the team to beat in the GAC Central girls basketball race.

The Lady Jays (11-3, 3-0), the defending conference champions, had another dominating performance in a 70-36 win over Ft. Zumwalt South Friday at Washington High School.

“I think we frustrated them early in the game and the girls stayed on them,” said Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer. “We played well again defensively, which led to a lot of scoring opportunities for us.”

In its three conference wins this season, Washington has two 34-point victories and one by 36 points.

In the GAC Central, each team plays the four other squads twice in a home-and-home series.

The team the Lady Jays have yet to play is Holt, who they visit Tuesday. Holt lost to Ft. Zumwalt South earlier in the season.

“We’re 3-0 in the conference with five games left. Between us, Holt and South, those probably are the three top teams in the conference,” Fischer said. “Holt has a sophomore (Mel Taouil) who scored 31 points the other night against Jennings. If we don’t stop her, it’s going to be a challenge.”

As they have in recent games, the Lady Jays started fast against Ft. Zumwalt South, jumping to a 26-15 lead after one quarter.

“That’s a lot of points in one quarter,” Fischer said. “It’s generated by effort.”

Ft. Zumwalt South (9-8, 2-1) entered the game without a conference loss, but couldn’t keep up with Washington.

The Lady Jays built leads of 41-23 at halftime and 56-34 after three quarters.

“We’ve scored over 40 points by halftime in the last three games,” Fischer said. “In the second half, we’ve been hitting about 20. It’s like we’re getting comfortable. That’s something we need to work on.”

Kyra Hardesty paced Washington with 23 points (four three-pointers), three assists and two steals.

“Kyra plays basketball all year around. It’s her sport. She loves the game. She’s always putting in more time shooting,” Fischer said. “Having a kid like her for four years is going to be fun.”

Courtney Kedroski collected 16 points (three three-pointers) and five assists.

Paige Carpenter finished with 10 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Rachel Kackley registered nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Megan Bauche had three points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Emma Boehmer netted four points. Katie Trigg scored three points. Megan Freitag had two points and two assists. Alex Ready added two assists. Morgan Buddemeyer also played.

“Kyra, Courtney and Paige hit some outside shots early to give us a comfortable lead. Rachel had a couple of offensive rebounds for putbacks,” Fischer said. “When you have four girls scoring at or near double figures, it’s hard for defenses to focus on just one of them.

“Our guards have found the player who’s been hot in certain games. Rachel has done a great job inside. Megan Bauche and Megan Freitag do the little things, like that one rebound or steal you need that pushes the ball up the floor to Kyra or the other guards.”

Washington is seeded second for next week’s Borgia Tournament, opening against seventh-seeded Union Monday at 6:40 p.m.

“I keep telling the girls, other people are starting to believe in us, it’s time for us to start believing,” Fischer said. “Washington girls basketball hasn’t had a lot of success recently. Now it’s time to learn to play with the success. We’re going to get everybody’s best game.”