WASHINGTON C.H. —The Washington High School Lady Blue Lions tipped-off the 2019-20 season at home Tuesday night with a game against the Lady Lions of Fairfield High School.
In a game that stayed close throughout, Washington prevailed, 49-45.
Washington senior Shawna Conger was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points.
Senior Halli Wall and sophomore Jeleeya Tyree-Smith each added nine points for Washington.
Sophomore Emma Fouch led Fairfield with 20 points.
There were 10 lead changes in the first half and a total of 18 in the game.
The game was tied 12 times.
Rebounding was a key factor in the win for Washington.
Freshman Natalie Woods had seven rebounds, including four offensive, to go along with five points.
Freshman Kendall Dye had seven rebounds, five of those on the offensive glass.
“Both of those kids just did a tremendous job on the boards for us this evening,” Washington head coach Samantha Leach said. “I felt like we really controlled the boards. That was one of the big differences in the game.
“There were so many lead changes, but, when it came down to it, rebounding was huge,” Leach said.
“Shawna was huge,” Leach said. “She had a great offensive game. She really stepped up there at the end.
“We have a lot of young kids and I knew there would be a lot of nerves and butterflies for them to work through,” Leach said. “Overall, they did a great job and we executed when we needed to at the end.”
Washington held a 7-3 lead with 4:45 to play in the first quarter.
By the end of the opening period, the game was tied, 14-14.
It remained no more than a one possession game right through the second quarter. Washington was in front as the teams headed off the court for halftime, 26-23.
Fairfield led by as many as three points in the third quarter.
After three quarters of action, the visiting Lady Lions held a 37-36 lead.
Fairfield had its final lead of the game, 44-42, with about 1:45 to play in the game.
Wall hit a basket to tie the game, 44-44.
Fairfield then went 0 for 2 in back-to-back trips to the free throw line.
The game was still tied when one of Washington’s freshmen, Kendall Dye, had a steal of the Fairfield in-bounds pass.
She got the ball to Conger who scored with 28.6 seconds remaining.
Fairfield missed a field goal attempt and Conger was fouled, going to the line for a 1 and 1 with 5.4 seconds to play.
She made the first, but missed the second, giving Washington a 47-44 lead.
The last few seconds of the game took several minutes to sort out.
Fouch had the ball for Fairfield, but was fouled, apparently at the buzzer.
It was not a shooting foul, but Fairfield was in the double bonus.
Five-tenths of a second remained in the game.
Fouch went to the line for two free throws.
She made the first and intentionally missed the second in the hopes of a teammate getting a quick rebound and stick-back bucket.
However, Conger got the rebound and was fouled.
Conger hit both free throws for a final score of 49-45.
“Coming in here, it’s always a tough place to play,” Fairfield head coach Chad Hamilton said. “Being all underclassmen, we played with them. It was a really even game the entire way. Both teams played really hard. I’m proud of my girls.
“We just didn’t execute down the end on a few possessions,” Hamilton said. “We didn’t shoot free throws well, in the fourth quarter, especially and that comes back to bite you in a game like this.”
“We tried to switch defenses a little bit,” Hamilton said. “Conger is a heck of a player. They’re tough to play zone against, because if she gets an open look, she’s going to knock it down from eight feet behind the line and there’s not a lot you can do.
“We tried to switch it up a little bit, but she’s a tough player and she’s tough to stop.”
Hamilton talked about his leading scorer, Emma Fouch.
“Emma shot really well,” Hamilton said. “You kind of know when she makes her first one, the rest of the night should be good. We tried to get her the ball and get her some shots. When she’s shooting like that, we want her to take more shots than anybody else.”
Fairfield is now 1-1 on the season. Fairfield defeated Portsmouth West in their first game, 65-38.
Fairfield will host South Webster Saturday starting with a two-quarter j-v game at 5 p.m.
Washington is at McClain Saturday for a varsity only match-up at 6 p.m.