Washington took a giant step toward a GAC Central girls basketball championship Tuesday night.
The Lady Jays (12-10, 5-1) avenged their lone conference loss of the season with a 43-29 home victory over Ft. Zumwalt South on senior night.
Entering Friday’s game at Holt (9-12, 3-3), Washington had a one-game lead in the conference over Ft. Zumwalt North (8-15, 4-2). FZN played Friday at FZS.
Washington plays its final league contest Tuesday at Ft. Zumwalt East (5-15, 0-7).
“Beating Ft. Zumwalt South gave us a leg up in the conference. Having two road games to end the conference season will take our full focus,” said Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer. “Our girls are excited that we have a chance at conference, but we will have to play our best games of the year to have a chance at sealing the conference outright.”
Washington suffered a 34-30 loss at Ft. Zumwalt South earlier in the season, but wasn’t about to let it happen again.
In another low-scoring affair, the Lady Jays held the lead throughout the game and shut down South’s offensive attack.
“Our girls played a very aggressive ball game,” Fischer said. “We came out from the start and got settled into our offense and defense. Ft. Zumwalt South plays a very aggressive zone defense and we handled ourselves real well against it.”
The Lady Jays were patient against South’s zone defense, taking time off the clock and working for open shoots.
“We were patient on every possession and got the ball where we wanted it to go,” Fischer said.
Against a South team with good size in the post, much like Washington, Rachel Kackley was a key player for the Lady Jays early in the game.
Kackley scored five points in the first quarter while providing a defensive presence, helping the Lady Jays to an 8-5 lead.
Washington went on an 11-0 run over the first seven minutes of the second quarter to increase their advantage to 19-5.
The Lady Bulldogs’ only points of the second quarter came on a three-pointer by Alex Coleman with 58 seconds left.
Washington led 19-8 at halftime.
Ft. Zumwalt South (12-10, 4-3) outscored the Lady Jays 16-9 in the third quarter to trim the deficit to 28-24.
Washington put the game away with a 15-5 fourth-quarter run.
“In the second half, they switched to man on defense and we were able to spread them out and find the open girl,” Fischer said. “It seemed for a stretch in the fourth quarter we made the extra pass to find the open girl.”
Courtney Kedroski led the way for Washington with 13 points, three steals, two assists and two rebounds.
Kackley added nine points and seven rebounds.
Paige Carpenter also scored nine points.
Kaitlin Evans collected six points and two rebounds.
Kirstie Leslie registered three points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Megan Bauche added two points, five rebounds and three assists.
Helena Ballmann had one point, five rebounds and two assists.
Also playing were Hannah Leslie, Megan Freitag, Katie Trigg and Morgan Buddemeyer.
Seniors honored were Kirstie Leslie, Hannah Leslie, Evans and Ballmann.
Washington shot 36 percent from the field, had nine steals, grabbed 29 rebounds and was 9-17 from the free-throw line.
“We played a great game and earned a very good conference win,” Fischer said. “Our four seniors should have something to remember from their senior night. They all played their hearts out and got us all the tough rebounds we needed to win games like these.”
The Lady Jays have road games Tuesday at Ft. Zumwalt East and Thursday at Pacific in the final week of the regular season.
Washington is seeded third in the Class 5 District 10 Tournament at Rolla High School, opening in the semifinals against second-seeded Rolla Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Waynesville is the top seed followed by Rolla, Washington, Northwest and Lebanon.