Winning in different ways, the Washington Blue Jays and Lady Jays both advanced to the championship games of the Class 5 District 10 Basketball Tournament at Northwest High School with semifinal victories on Tuesday.
The third-seeded Blue Jays (16-11) shot the lights out of the gym, knocking down their first eight three-point attempts, finishing with 14 in the first half and 17 for the game in an 83-51 win over second-seeded Rolla.
“The great thing was it wasn’t just one or two kids, it was the whole team. We spread the ball around really well. That makes it fun,” said Blue Jays Head Coach Grant Young. “You can see it on the kids’ faces when they’re gleaming with confidence that almost anything they throw up can go in.”
The second-seeded Lady Jays (23-4) leaned on their defense in shutting down third-seeded Northwest, 44-31.
“Northwest is a good ball club. They do the things they’re good at pretty well,” said Lady Jays Head Coach Adam Fischer. “They had more size than we did. They got the ball inside and hurt us at times. We did a good job blocking out. To hold them to 31 points is a good defensive night.”
Washington continued its assault from the three-point line in the victory over Rolla, going 17-30 from long distance.
The Blue Jays fell behind 5-0, but went on a 15-2 run on five three-pointers in a four-minute span and never looked back.
It was a first half to remember for the Blue Jays, who drilled eight three-pointers in the first quarter and six more in the second quarter.
“In the first quarter, we didn’t rebound as well as we should have,” Young said. “In the second quarter, we started rebounding and getting in transition, which gave us those open looks.”
Doing most of the damage from the three-point line were Ronnie Suggs, Brad Carpenter, Mike Morgan and Jacob Mulkey, who combined for 16 of the 17 three-pointers.
Suggs finished the game with 19 points, 15 in the first half. He nailed three three-pointers and added 11 rebounds and five assists.
Carpenter also scored 15 points in the first half and finished with 18 points on six three-pointers.
Morgan collected 17 points and five rebounds, connecting for five three-pointers.
Mulkey scored 10 points, all in the first half, to go with eight assists and five rebounds. He made two three-pointers.
“We didn’t want to settle for three-pointers. We wanted to attack. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Everything was going in from Mike to Ronnie to Brad to Mulkey. We were shooting it from everywhere,” Young said. “We dissected them very well with our dribble and then kicked. When they threw their 1-2-2 press at us, we broke it and got to the basket for easy looks. We spread the floor really well and played as a team.”
Jacob Huxol pitched in with five points. Dane Meyer added four points and five rebounds. Isaiah West (one three-pointer and five rebounds) and Trey Walsh both scored three points. Patrick Menke had two points, four rebounds and four assists.
In a three-game span against Oakville, Warrenton and Rolla, the Blue Jays made a combined 46 three-pointers.
“I made the comment a couple of weeks ago that we haven’t peaked yet. Right now, we’re peaking. The kids have really come together over the last three games,” Young said. “We’re playing tough defense and we’re playing with a lot of energy and passion. We have seniors who don’t want the season to end. It makes for fun atmospheres and games.”
Rolla (15-11) was led by Sam Marshall, who scored 11 points. Damaris Facen added nine points.
Washington held leads of 29-15 after one quarter and 54-31 at halftime with 42 of its first-half points coming via the three-pointer.
With the game firmly in hand, the Blue Jays made three three-pointers in the third quarter, giving them 17 for the game, and took a 74-44 lead into the fourth quarter.
Most of the final eight minutes were played with a running clock.
While the Blue Jays won with offense, the Lady Jays won their semifinal game over Northwest with defense.
“We didn’t make very many shots. We missed some open threes and a lot of easy shots,” Fischer said. “If we would have made more of those, our lead would have been more comfortable.”
Washington held leads of 9-7 after one quarter and 20-15 at halftime.
With the Lady Jays leading 27-23, Paige Carpenter hit a three-pointer with six seconds left in the third quarter to give Washington a seven-point advantage heading into the fourth period.
Washington held a 14-8 advantage in the fourth quarter.
“I told the team at halftime that the first half was over, the nerves were gone and we had to go out there and shoot the ball,” Fischer said. “We ran a pick-and-roll offense, which we haven’t run all year, and we barely even practiced. We had Paige coming out of the weak side and Kyra and Rachel getting the inside. I was impressed with the way we adapted.”
Carpenter scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half. She added three steals.
Rachel Kackley finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Kyra Hardesty collected 10 points, eight assists and six steals.
Courtney Kedroski had six points and three steals. Megan Freitag had two points and three rebounds with her bucket coming with two seconds left in the second quarter. Megan Bauche had three assists.
Kackley recently was recognized for reaching 500 career rebounds.
“Paige hit three or four big threes in the second half to help stretch the lead,” Fischer said. “We had a couple of girls not feeling the greatest and we tried to sit them out as much as we could. A couple of other girls stepped up, which is what you need this time of year.”
Without much of a perimeter attack, Northwest (13-13) did most of its offensive damage inside the lane.
“We locked down on defense and got after them. Megan Bauche, Megan Freitag and Courtney did a good job on their taller players down low,” Fischer said. “We blocked out and got the rebounds when we needed to. I believe we got the last 12 rebounds of the game, which made a big difference.”