Playing for the first time since the St. Francis Borgia Thanksgiving Tournament, Washington hit the road and split a pair of boys basketball contests.
The Blue Jays (3-2) dropped a 49-39 decision Tuesday at Parkway Central, but bounced back with a 66-46 victory Thursday at Timberland.
Washington will play its home and GAC Central opener Tuesday against Ft. Zumwalt East at 6 p.m.
“It will be good to finally play at home,” said Washington Head Coach Chip Sodemann. “It’s a chance for us to compete for the first ever GAC Central championship, which is important to us. The first step is Tuesday night.”
Two days after losing to Parkway Central, a motivated Washington team never trailed against Timberland, cruising to a 20-point victory.
“We were a different team than what we showed at Parkway Central,” Sodemann said. “We challenged the kids Wednesday at practice that we had to play with much more energy, which is what we did. We played much better defensively, which helped our offense and got our confidence going.”
Ronnie Suggs led all scorers with 27 points for the Blue Jays.
“Ronnie hit some shots early and got to the free-throw line, which is key for him,” Sodemann said. “He also played harder defensively, which led to some chances on the offensive end.”
Luke Schroepfer added 17 points.
“Luke has been fairly consistent for us. He slowed down and let the game come to him,” Sodemann said. “He shot the ball with confidence.”
Brad Carpenter scored 12 points on three three-pointers and a three-point play.
Luke Hasenjaeger and Jacob Mulkey both scored four points. Jared Walde had two points.
Washington held a 33-17 halftime advantage over Timberland (2-2).
“We made a big run in the second quarter. Our lead went from 10 points to 20 points pretty quick. We did a good job making extra passes and getting open looks,” Sodemann said. “They tried to make a run in the fourth quarter, but we had the game in hand.”
Washington saw its chances slip away during the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s loss at Parkway Central.
The Blue Jays held a 29-24 lead with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, but were outscored 25-10 over the final 11 minutes of the contest.
Trailing 34-31 after thee quarters, the Blue Jays did not score again until there was 1:59 remaining in the fourth period.
The Colts (3-1) led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“Coach (Rick) Kirby does a great job. His teams always are tough defensively,” Sodemann said. “It was clear they weren’t going to let us do what we wanted to do. They focused on guarding Ronnie and Luke. In those situations, those guys have to find ways to get to the line. Our other guys have to find shots. It was good for us to see a team like that.”
Carpenter led the Blue Jays with 15 points on five three-pointers, four of which came in the first half.
Schroepfer and Walde both finished the game with eight points.
Suggs scored seven points. Mulkey had one point.
Hasenjaeger and Cory Epperson also played.
Nathan Biggs, a 6-6 forward, and Antwon Hoard, a 5-7 guard, both scored 12 points for Central. Jarrett Cox-Bradley added 11 points.
“Biggs is a nice player. We gave him some open looks in our zone,” Sodemann said. “No. 22 (Hoard) had the game of his life. He hadn’t made any threes coming into the game and made two against us.”
Washington was 6-9 from the free-throw line. Central was 7-11.
The Blue Jays trailed 11-9 after one quarter and 16-9 with 4:20 left in the second period.
A 10-0 run over the next three minutes put the Blue Jays ahead, 19-16. Carpenter hit two three-pointers to highlight the run.
The game was tied 19-19 at halftime.
Washington scored 20 points in the second half, but its drought in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter was the difference.
“Defensively, we didn’t play hard. We stood around too much and gave them open looks,” Sodemann said. “It was good to see us come back and play well defensively against Timberland.”