With two teams that focus so much on defense, it wasn’t a big surprise that points were difficult to come by during Tuesday’s boys basketball contest at Washington High School.
The Blue Jays (6-2) snapped Pacific’s six-game winning streak, claiming their fourth consecutive game in the process, in a 51-40 victory over the Indians.
“It was a fun game to be a part of. It was fun for our guys, our fans and everyone on our side,” said Washington Head Coach Chip Sodemann. “It was a highly emotional game. Both teams played their hearts out. I’m glad we got out of there with a win.”
The Indians (6-3) never got on track offensively.
“Our defense, for the most part, was solid all night. They hurt us the most in the second quarter,” said Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer. “We got good shots the whole game. They just weren’t falling.”
Ronnie Suggs led all scorers in the game with 19 points for the Blue Jays.
“Ronnie has been doing a nice job taking what the defense gives him,” Sodemann said. “He was aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. He did a good job shading (Cullen) VanLeer. He really bought into our defensive game plan, just like everyone did.”
Jared Walde scored all 10 of his points in the first half, including eight in the second quarter.
“We expect those kinds of efforts out of Jared and our seniors,” Sodemann said. “That’s how he practices every day, so it’s no surprise. He ran the floor well, rebounded and got some baskets.”
Luke Schroepfer also scored 10 points. He was 6-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Luke Hasenjaeger added six points. Brad Carpenter netted three points. Jacob Mulkey had two points.
“A big difference in the game was Walde in the second quarter. He beat us down the floor and got a couple of offensive put backs,” VanLeer said. “We did a good job defending Schroepfer. He had four points going into the fourth quarter and then hit six free throws.”
Washington’s defensive game plan centered around slowing down Pacific guard Cullen VanLeer.
VanLeer finished with seven points, nine assists and six rebounds.
“We wanted to limit the number of good shots he got and make someone else beat us,” Sodemann said. “We ran guys at him once he crossed half-court because his range is so good. I’ve seen him hit shots from the volleyball line. We wanted to make him give the ball up as quickly as he could.”
Zeth Boyer led the way for Pacific with 14 points and five rebounds.
“Zeth was 7-8 shooting from the field,” VanLeer said. “He had a solid game on both ends of the floor. He more than held his own inside against Walde.”
Tanner Brown finished the game with 11 points.
Brendan Jett-Kell hit two three-pointers and scored six points.
“Tanner played a solid game. He hit some shots and guarded Schroepfer for a majority of the game,” VanLeer said. “Brendan hit two big threes to help us get back in the game in the fourth quarter.”
Jeffrey Hinkle added two points.
“They were doubling and running two defenders at Cullen all night,” VanLeer said. “We struggled shooting the ball. That happens sometimes. It also hurt us having Jeffrey in foul trouble.”
Washington held a 34-21 lead after three quarters after Hasenjaeger drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 13-point game.
“That happened because we had a good defensive possession,” Sodemann said. “We forced them into a quick shot and Hasy came down and hit a three-pointer that got the crowd into it and the momentum on our side.”
Pacific responded with a 17-6 run over the first 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Jett-Kell gave the Indians a spark with a pair of three-pointers during the run.
A basket by Zeth Boyer cut the Blue Jays lead to 40-38 with 2:38 remaining in the game.
“It was just a matter of time,” Sodemann said. “Pacific is a good team with good shooters. We knew they would start making shots.”
The two-point game didn’t last long as Washington’s Carpenter knocked down a three-pointer, his only basket of the game, to make the score 43-38 with 2:23 left to play.
“Brad hasn’t been at his best over the last couple of games,” Sodemann said. “For him to have the confidence to step up in that situation, that was a gutsy shot.”
The Blue Jays made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“We didn’t fold after they made it a two-point game,” Sodemann said. “We kept them at bay for the rest of the game by rebounding on the defensive end and making our free throws.”
Washington also defeated Pacific in the junior varsity contest.
Prior to the varsity game, it was announced that the WHS football stadium will now be known as “Jim Scanlan Stadium.”
Scanlan, former WHS football coach and athletic director, was on hand to be recognized. He was joined by his family and a number of friends, former players and fellow coaches.