The first time around was a shootout.
The second time proved to be less so as Washington hosted Timberland in Gateway Athletic Conference Central action Tuesday. The Blue Jays (7-15) won the second and final meeting between the two teams, 49-43.
Washington picked up its first conference win of the season in the contest, improving to 1-7 in league play. Timberland drops to 10-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference.
“It feels really good to get that first conference win, especially how tough the GAC Central is,” Washington Head Coach Grant Young said. “That’s what’s huge for us, so very proud of those kids.”
The Blue Jays opened action on an 8-2 run and led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Defense prevailed in the second quarter with the teams combining for nine total points in the period and Washington led, 17-15, at the half. In the Blue Jays’ trip to Timberland earlier in the season, nearly twice as many combined points were scored in the first half of that contest.
“The first game was played with reckless abandon, an up-and-down mess with lead changes,” Young said. “... It was about a 70-point game on both sides of it and this game was totally different. We said we wanted to keep the game slow. We didn’t want them to get out and run and our kids did a good job of getting back, getting our matchup and I thought we did a good job defensively of limiting their shots.”
A big part of the difference in scoring was the job the Jays did against Timberland’s leading scorer on the season, Blake Busateri. Washington held Busateri to just one point through the first three quarters. Busateri went on to score eight points in the fourth quarter, but fell well below the 33 points he scored against the Blue Jays in the first meeting.
“Executing late and executing defensively tonight — we did a great job with our matchup,” Young said. “We limited their best player, who averaged 17 points per game, to one point in three quarters with the Busateri kid. That was a big key, to limit him.”
The Wolves also struggled from the free-throw line, where they shot 10-25. On the other end, Washington shot 14-20 at the stripe.
The Blue Jays went into the final period with a 29-27 edge.
Sophomore Ryan Hoerstkamp scored 12 of his team high 18 points in the fourth quarter.
“Ryan’s done great inside for us,” Young said. “He’s been a beast inside, making some 10-footers, attacking the glass hard and make his free throws.”
Connor Vollmer was next for the Jays with 10 points.
“Connor Vollmer had some great minutes in the game,” Young said. “He had a big spot three, a great offensive rebound and put back and did some really great little things for us.”
Rett Corley scored six points. Jeremiah Broadbent and Brigham Broadbent knotted four points each. Todd Bieg added three points, Alec Brinkmann scored two and Jason Sides one.
“Jerry (Broadbent) didn’t score much tonight, but he took care of the ball,” Young said. “I don’t think he had a single turnover at point guard for us. ... Bieg came in and had to play the entire fourth quarter. He was huge in the fourth quarter with a couple of big shots and a couple of blocks to be able to match up against their big kid.”
The Blue Jays got the first six points of the final period on a pair of baskets by Hoerstkamp and one by Bieg. Washington got two more baskets from Hoerstkamp, one with a foul bonus, and a pair of free throws from Brigham Broadbent to push the lead up to 12 points with a little more than two minutes to play.
Timberland was able to utilize a full-court press and each of its remaining timeouts to cut that lead down to four with an 8-0 run as the clock ticked down inside the final 90 seconds.
Jeremiah Broadbent, Hoerstkamp and Bieg each delivered from the free-throw line with Timberland answering back until Hoerstkamp finished the scoring with a fast-break layup off a turnover.
Cole Martin was the main scoring force for the Wolves with 22 points.
Other scorers included Busateri (nine), Jackson Lamb (seven), Brett Hiatt (two), Blake Lyerla (two) and Trevor Brave (one).
Washington goes on the road Friday in another GAC Central matchup at Ft. Zumwalt East. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.