With the GAC Central boys basketball race coming down the stretch, Washington suffered its first league loss Friday at Ft. Zumwalt North.

The Blue Jays (13-8, 5-1) lost 63-54 to the Panthers, setting up a crucial final two games of the conference campaign.

Washington visits Ft. Zumwalt South on Tuesday in a game featuring a pair of 5-1 teams who currently share the conference lead.

“South is going to be hungry on its home floor wanting to get us back from the last one,” said Washington Head Coach Grant Young. “We have to put four quarters together against them.”

De Soto

The Blue Jays, who conclude GAC Central action Friday at home against Holt, bounced back Monday with a 76-43 home win over De Soto.

The game never was in doubt as Washington held leads of 27-8 after one quarter, 54-18 at halftime and 70-30 after three quarters.

“We got a lot of guys in and they all showed confidence. Hopefully a game like this will give us confidence going into South and then Holt on Friday,” Young said. “Our defense did a good job. We rebounded the ball really well.”

Eleven Blue Jays got in the scoring column, led by Ronnie Suggs’ 17 points.

Brad Carpenter and Isaiah West both scored 11 points. Mike Morgan netted 10 points.

Patrick Menke finished with eight points. Jacob Mulkey registered five points. Dane Meyer and Cole Schroepfer both scored four points. Christian Hardesty, Camron Shipley and Trey Walsh each had two points.

Ft. Zumwalt North

Washington could not hold a lead in the loss to Ft. Zumwalt North.

“You have to put four quarters together. We held the lead for the entire game until the last four minutes of the game,” Young said. “We had three crucial turnovers with under four minutes left that you can’t have. We had a nine-point lead in the first half.”

Carpenter led Washington with 23 points, gaining the school record for most three-pointers in a single season. He already held the school’s career record.

“Shooters go through their ups and downs. The good thing is Carp doesn’t stop shooting. You have to have that shooter’s mentality that every shot is going in,” Young said. “We’re getting him back on track at the right time of the year.”

Suggs finished with 20 points. Meyer scored eight points. Morgan had three points.

“Ronnie did a great job finding Carp. We distributed the ball well and Carp got open looks,” Young said. “They played a really physical man-to-man defense on us.”

Chaz Glotta, who’s headed to Southern Illinois, paced the Panthers (13-8, 4-2) with 27 points.

Blake Buls finished with 13 points. Zach Glotta, who missed the first game against Washington, added 10 points.

“Our defense broke down in the second half,” Young said. “We let Chaz get too many drives in the lane where we didn’t help over and stop him. He’s a great player. He made one from the volleyball line and Ronnie had a hand in his face.”

Washington’s home game Thursday against Winfield has been canceled. The Blue Jays have added Warrenton to their schedule Thursday, Feb. 27, at home.