Zumwalt South Edges Blue Jays

Washington’s Ronnie Suggs moves in for a layup over Ft. Zumwalt South’s Preston Whitfield, right, during basketball action at FZS. Also shown are South’s Jeremy Farrell and Washington’s Patrick Menke. Suggs scored 20 points, but the Blue Jays lost, 62-60.

In a game that possibly decided the GAC Central boys basketball crown, Ft. Zumwalt South rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Washington.

The Bulldogs (19-3, 6-1) gained at least a share of the conference crown with a 62-60 home win Tuesday over the Blue Jays (13-9, 5-2).

“It was a fun game to coach and the kids had fun on the court,” said Washington Head Coach Grant Young. “And then you get in the locker room after the game and it feels like you’ve been punched in the gut. Our kids deserved that win for what they’ve put in over the last couple of weeks.”

South can win the outright league crown with a win Friday at Ft. Zumwalt North (13-8, 4-2).

To gain a share of the GAC Central title, Washington must defeat Holt on Friday and hope North knocks off South, which could result in a three-way share of the league.

“If you ever want to cheer for another team, we would like North to win on Friday, which is something we’ve probably never said,” Young said with a smile. “If North helps us, we still have to do our job and beat Holt.”

Washington held a 45-35 lead with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter. The Blue Jays maintained the advantage until South tied the game 53-53 with 4:04 left in the fourth quarter.

The big basket down the stretch came from South’s Brendan O’Brien, who drilled a three-pointer with 19 seconds remaining to give his team the lead for good, 62-60. It was O’Brien’s only basket of the game.

“It was the only shot the kid made, but credit him. He had the confidence to take it and he made it,” Young said.

The Blue Jays had one final chance, but missed a shot as time expired.

“We had a play that we tried to run for Carp (Brad Carpenter). When it broke down, it was a scramble to get a shot up,” Young said. “Ronnie (Suggs) still had a look to win the game, but it just didn’t bounce our way.”

Brad Carpenter made six three-pointers and led the Blue Jays with 23 points. He had four three-pointers, including a four-point play, and 13 points in the first quarter.

“Carp has his confidence back,” Young said. “That kid was on fire.”

Ronnie Suggs finished with 20 points, going 9-11 from the free-throw line.

“Ronnie has done so much for us, not just with his shooting, but leading the team as a point guard,” Young said.

Mike Morgan added seven points. Jacob Mulkey collected five points. Isaiah West scored three points. Patrick Menke had two points.

Washington was without its two main post players. Dane Meyer was sick and Austin Subke was still out with a separated shoulder.

South’s junior duo of Marshawn Blackmon and Preston Whitfield led the Bulldogs with 23 points and 18 points, respectively.

“We kept it out of Blackmon’s hands in the post. We didn’t want Whitfield to drive, so we made sure we had two defenders on him when he was looking to drive,” Young said. “Other than Ronnie, we play with kids who are 6-2 and under on the Class 5 level. We play a tough schedule to have a chance to beat teams like Zumwalt North and Zumwalt South.”

Washington held leads of 21-13 after one quarter, 33-25 at halftime and 48-42 after three quarters.

After playing Friday against Holt, the Blue Jays end the regular season next week with games Wednesday at Oakville and Thursday at home against Warrenton (6 p.m. varsity start).

Washington is seeded third for the Class 5 District 10 Tournament March 1-6 at Northwest High School. Waynesville is the top seed followed by Rolla, Washington, Lebanon and Northwest.

The Blue Jays meet Rolla in the semifinals March 3 at 7:30 p.m. The championship game is March 6 at 7:30 p.m.