The basketball season for Washington’s Lady Jays came to a premature end Saturday.
MSHSAA’s Class 5 District 4 will crown a new champion this year after No. 5 Marquette (11-15) upset the defending champions from Washington, 62-43, at Francis Howell.
Marquette eliminated the fourth-seeded Lady Jays (15-12) short of the state playoffs for the first time since Waynesville defeated Washington in the Class 5 District 10 championship game in 2013. It is the earliest exit for the program since a first-round loss to Smith-Cotton in 2012.
The victory advanced the Lady Mustangs to Monday’s district semifinal against No. 1 Francis Howell, which the Lady Vikings won, 58-46.
The Lady Jays struggled offensively, particularly in the first half as Marquette built an 18-8 lead after the first quarter and a 37-18 advantage at halftime. Washington shot just 14-57 from the floor in the contest and 3-20 from three-point distance.
“We just didn’t shoot well,” Head Coach Doug Light said. “I think we were 6-31 in the first half and we’re not going to win games if we do that — I don’t care who you’re playing. We kind of picked it up in the second half, but we could never get over the top against them. They came out with a lot of energy. You’ve got to give Marquette credit.”
The Lady Mustangs shot 62.9 percent from the field and 75 percent from three-point range.
Marquette’s athletic forwards used a size differential to their advantage to make things difficult for the Lady Jays when they attempted to bring the ball in the lane, blocking five shots.
“We’d kind of been dealing with that, but they have so many of them, that made it tough,” Light said of Marquette’s players with a size advantage. The Lady Jays had to deal with a size mismatch in the post against most opponents this season. “And their little guard was pretty tough. I just give them all the credit in the world. Our kids played hard, especially in the second half, trying to get themselves back in and could just never get there.”
Washington played even with Marquette in the second half, but was unable to make up any ground. The score stood at a 54-34 Marquette lead at the end of the third quarter.
Jackie Arnold led Washington in scoring with 17 points.
Nichole Brinker was next with 10 points and then Reese Arnold with nine.
Brooke Robinson netted five points for the Lady Jays.
Jessie Huxol scored two points.
Bria Hasenjaeger led the team in rebounds with seven.
Brooke Robinson came down with four rebounds.
Reese Arnold, Brinker and Olivia Robinson each rebounded one.
Brinker’s six assists were a team high.
Jackie Arnold, Huxol and Mary Beth Reust recorded two assists apiece.
Reese Arnold was credited with one assist.
Brinker picked up five steals.
Jackie and Reese Arnold each picked up two steals.
Huxol stole one and blocked one shot.
The loss ends the careers of a large senior class that includes Jackie and Reese Arnold, Brinker, Brooke Robinson, Hasenjaeger, Mary Beth Reust, Emmy Hopkins, Kailey Robinson and Olivia Robinson.
“A group of kids that’s going to do some great things with their lives,” Light said. “I tell them, ‘Sports is a lot like life,’ (with) ups and downs and dealing with adversity and things like that. You hope you learn from those things, but these kids are going to go on and do some good things. They’re really good people and they’re very enjoyable to be around, so I’m going to miss them — that’s for sure.”
On Marquette’s end, Melissa Price led the Lady Mustangs with 17 points.
Autumn Brown (15 points) and Kennedi Watkins (10 points) each got into double figures for Marquette as well.
Other scorers included Emma Morrow with eight points, Chayleb Deves with four, Lilly Constantinides and Kira Mangan with three apiece and Grace Williams with two points.