For 16 minutes, Union stayed right with Washington.

In the second half of the girls basketball season opener, Washington steadily pulled away, ultimately winning 44-21. The Lady Jays held a narrow 18-15 lead at the half. It was 8-7 in Washington’s favor after the first period.

“Union came at us hard,” Washington Head Coach Doug Light said. “They play really well. They’re well coached, and the score I don’t think is indicative of how the game was. We pulled away late, but I thought they played really well. They came at us and gave us everything we wanted.”

Union Head Coach Dusty Weiskopf said it showed a lot about his team to stay with the Lady Jays for as long as they did and to keep Washington’s scoring in check.

“We’re young,” Weiskopf said. “At any given point, I had two freshmen out there. We are young and we played physical, but not as physical as they did. ...We battled and battled and legs got tired and we really couldn’t hit shots, but to hold them to (44) points, I think that’s a pretty good job by us.”

Holding Union to just four points in the third period, Washington increased its lead to 31-19 going into the final eight minutes.

Jackie Arnold and Reese Arnold led the Lady Jays in scoring, notching 12 points each.

The sister guard tandem accounted for all 13 of Washington’s points in the final period, Reese with seven and Jackie with six on a pair of treys, to seal the victory as the game got more physical.

“Everybody knows they’re top-rate players and that’s what good players do — they step up when things get like that,” Light said. “I thought we got some good minutes out of a lot of people. Nichole Brinker had some good minutes for us, another one of our veterans, and some kids came off the bench and did some good things for us. The Arnolds scored a lot for us, but I think we got a lot from a lot of kids in different ways.”

Brinker, the Lady Jays’ other returning starter at the guard position, put through eight points. The bulk of her scoring came in slashing to the basket.

Four other Washington players got in on the scoring. Bria Hasenjaeger, Nakya Kriebaum, Mary Beth Reust and Jessica Huxol put up three points each.

Reust, a senior guard-forward coming off the bench, knocked down a three-point shot in the third quarter and was in the middle of the fight for several loose balls and rebounds.

“She’s going to have a big role for us,” Light said. “She’s kind of quote-unquote our sixth player off the bench and has been in our program all this time. It’s good to see her have some success.”

Kennedy Reeser was the leading scorer for the Lady Cats with 10, most of which came driving into the paint.

“They’re really quick, and they get to the middle easily if you’re not careful,” Light said. “We had to adjust some angles and things like that, so we had our hands full.”

With those adjustments, Washington held Union to just six points in the second half.

Taylor Seely patrolled the paint for Union, putting up four points.

“She’s going to be good for us,” Weiskopf said. “... Once we get in the flow of things and hitting shots, teams will probably try to take her away and we have some shooters. I know it didn’t really look like that tonight, but we have some shooters.”

Union got four points from Emily Gaebe, two from Emily Webb and one from Megan Siedhoff.