Washington had all the right moves Saturday.
The Lady Jays (5-1) got all they could handle from Webster Groves (3-4) in the first round of the Visitation Christmas Tournament, but earned their place in the winner’s bracket with a 63-57 victory.
Jackie Arnold and Reese Arnold each led Washington in scoring with 19 points apiece. In a tight game, Jackie Arnold fouled out with five minutes left to play and Reese Arnold stepped up huge for Washington with 12 points in the final quarter to help seal the win.
“She was battling fouls too,” Head Coach Doug Light said. “When she had three, she kept saying, ‘Hey, I need to get in there. I won’t foul,’ and I go, ‘Reese, every game you’re going to get a foul that probably wasn’t a foul and I don’t want that to happen now.’ And surely, her fourth was kind of one of those. They were fighting for a rebound and she got the call against her. We had some kids have to play with four fouls and did a good job.”
Eight of Reese Arnold’s fourth-quarter points came from the free-throw line as she utilized moves like a spin and a behind-the-back pass to herself to maneuver around defenders into the lane. Washington collectively shot 11-12 from the charity stripe in the final period.
“In the first half, I told them that we’d missed three free throws that we really could have used,” Light said. “Our kids work work hard at free throws and... those are huge.”
It was a battle every step of the way in the contest as Webster Groves held a 14-12 lead after the first quarter and a 26-22 advantage at halftime.
After a back-and-forth fourth quarter that saw multiple lead changes, the Stateswomen clung to a 41-40 lead going into the final period.
Washington also got 10 points from Nichole Brinker, nine from Brooke Robinson and six from Mary Beth Reust.
Robinson knocked down two three-point shots in the contest, one in the final moments of the third quarter and another midway through the fourth quarter to give the Lady Jays momentum and a 52-50 lead.
“If you knew how much time that kid put in the gym in shooting,” Light said. “She’s struggled up to now, but in the last week we’ve started working on a little something and she put extra time in and she’s found her touch again.”
Webster Groves got 31 points from guard KK Rodriguez, which wasn’t even her season high. Rodriguez dropped 40 points on Parkway North the previous week.
“She’s a D-1 guard,” Light said. “She’s going to Tulsa and she showed why. She’s dropping shots all over the place. Our kids did a good job of paying attention to where she was. I’ll say we ‘held’ her to about 31 because the kid’s capable of more than that. That’s for sure.”
Other scorers for the Stateswomen were Ja’mise Bailey with 10 points, Danielle Daniels with eight, Hannah Sondag six and Janae Reed-Jones two.
The Lady Jays advance to the second round of the winners bracket, where they will meet second-seeded Edwardsville (Ill.) Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. The Lady Tigers are coming off a 55-33 win against Parkway South in the tournament’s first round.