Jumping out to a huge early lead, the Washington Blue Jays closed out the Union Boys Basketball Tournament with a win Saturday.
Washington (5-13) outscored Northwest (3-14) by a 25-8 margin in the opening quarter on the way to a 61-28 victory.
“It was good for our kids,” Washington Head Coach Grant Young said. “We came out and took a 9-0 lead. We stressed to our kids that we wanted to win the right way. We didn’t want to win sloppy or play to the level of our competition. We wanted to win the way we run our program and we came out and did what we needed to do. We want to stress our defense and hold a team under 30 and we did.”
Young stressed it was a team effort which led to the win.
“Everyone helped defensively causing a lot of turnovers in the halfcourt zone trap we ran,” Young said. “That was really good for our kids to come out and have a lot energy early on and get a win in the tournament.”
Young hopes the win can lead to more victories down the stretch.
“We haven’t had a win for six or seven games in a row with so many close games,” Young said. “With the level of competition we play, that’s tough. So, pulling this one out might be what it takes to get us rolling. We have three tough games. Over two weeks, we play six games in 14 days. We really have to execute well because we won’t be able to practice much.”
While Washington was wearing blue uniforms with white numbers and trim, the proper colors might have been black and blue as the Jays picked up a number of bruises against the rugged Lions.
“It was really physical and we had to fight for the ball a lot of times,” Young said. “There were a lot of loose balls and we got banged up a little bit. We get a day off to get healed up a little bit for Ft. Zumwalt South Tuesday.”
Northwest was called for 20 fouls in the game and many were of the physical variety with Washington players hitting the floor hard.
“We have to make sure we keep our composure,” Young said. “We did. Teams which haven’t won a lot of games can lose their composure. Sometimes that can happen in blowouts.”
Washington scored the game’s first 11 points before Northwest found the basket. Washington led 25-8 through one quarter, 40-18 at the half and 54-26 at the end of three quarters.
Alec Brinkmann led the Blue Jays with 17 points, including half of the eight three-point baskets.
“Our defense turned into our offense,” Young said. “Alec hit four threes for us, three in the first half. He also sparked us by getting two really good offensive putbacks under the basket, one at the end of a quarter, which was great. He really led us in the first half.”
Ryan Hoerstkamp was Washington’s all-tournament team selection and he closed with 15 points.
“Ryan is our anchor and he’s really been doing a good job inside, cleaning up the glass,” Young said. “He does a really good job attacking the basket. He’s unselfish and we’ve been telling him that he needs to be more selfish with the ball, taking the ball up to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. He’s such a strong kid and does so good around the basket.”
Rett Corley was Washington’s third player to reach double digits and he ended with 12 points.
Jason Sides netted eight points with two three-point baskets. He also came back after being knocked to the floor hard during the second half.
Connor Vollmer added five points and Brigham Broadbent netted four. Jeremiah Broadbent was the only Blue Jay to be shut out, but he contributed in a number of other ways.
The Blue Jays struggled from the free-throw line, hitting 11 of 23 attempts.
“We had seven guys who played in the game today,” Young said. “That made it a little tougher. Everyone contributed well teamwise. They did the little things defensively which really made the difference with all of the energy on our traps and rotations. That’s what made it so fun to watch for our kids, letting our defense be our offense again.”
Northwest was paced by Hunter Lee and Justin Fowler, who each scored six points.
Connor Luca was next with five while Thomas Patient scored four points. Kenny Angeles, Andrew Lenzen and Jack Watson each had two points. Trey Davis scored one point.
Northwest went 8-13 from the free-throw line and had no three-point baskets.
The Lions were represented on the all-tournament team by Seth Fortner.