It was an early-season clash between two 2-0 teams as the Washington Blue Lions hosted the McClain Tigers in another edition of their long-standing rivalry at Washington High School on a cold Tuesday night in Fayette County.
A large crowd was treated to an exciting game, one in which neither team was able to pull very far away from the other.
In the end, the Tigers came away with a 52-49 victory.
Eleven was something of a magic number for the Tigers as they had a trio of seniors — Preston Saunders, Bryson Badgley and Kendyll Toney — each score 11 points. Senior Wesley Potts had nine for the Tigers.
Washington senior Reico Colter was the game’s leading scorer with 15 points. He hit three of the Blue Lions’ nine three-point field goals. Sophomore John Wall scored 12 points (hitting two threes) and junior Isaiah Haithcock had 10 points (connecting for two threes).
“I thought we played hard,” Washington head coach Shannon Bartruff said. “We took some bad shots, we gave up some wide open lay-ups, standing and staring at the ball a couple of times. We just didn’t make enough plays coming down the stretch. You can’t really go in (to the locker room) and talk emotionally after a game like that. There were so many things that can happen during a fast-paced game like that.
“We had a few poor shots where we probably should have been moving the ball a little more. They missed some free throws coming down the stretch that gave us a little bit of life. We got a good look coming out of a time out by John. That’s a shot I’ll give him 10 out of 10 times.
“McClain has a good team,” Bartruff continued. “They are senior-led; they play hard. Some guys stepped up for them tonight. I thought Wesley Potts played really well. (Evann) Mischal hit a huge three down there, 25 feet away from the bucket. They just made more plays.
McClain head coach Joe B. Stewart said, “A lot of factors needed to come together for us to come in here and get (a win). Our group has heard how tough this opening stretch is from too many people. Two things: I think it was our balance on the offensive end. We got a little bit from a lot of spots. We got some really big baskets from people the league probably doesn’t consider one of our top two or three options. Our defense obviously carried us again.
“This was a great one to win for us. This is a tough character win. Give Preston Saunders his due. I think Terrell Cumberland would say I’m really hard on my guards. But, I really challenged Preston (to defend Reico Colter). (Saunders) was going to need to keep (Colter) in front and make him work and he certainly did. He didn’t get very many easy ones on us at all. (Brayden) May hurt us a couple of times from the corner and Wall on top. They have a lot of options they can go to.”
Washington had an early 6-2 lead over the Tigers.
A quick 6-0 run put McClain in front, 8-6.
Colter hit a three for the Blue Lions, then had a steal and a two-point basket that gave Washington a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Wall hit a three to start the second quarter, giving Washington a four-point lead.
The score was tied three times before Washington took a 26-20 lead on another three from Wall.
The Blue Lions led the Tigers 26-22 at the half.
The game remained close in the third quarter, although McClain scored 17 points to Washington’s nine. The Tigers were on top, 39-35, heading into the final eight minutes of action.
McClain led by as many as five points in the fourth quarter. As the game entered the stretch run, McClain continued to lead by as many as five points.
The Tigers left the door open for the Blue Lions, but Washington could not take advantage in the final moments. A Blue Lion steal resulted in a missed shot. McClain then proceeded to miss the front end of three consecutive one-and-one oppourtunities. The next two times, Washington missed field goal attempts. After the third front end miss, Washington had the ball out of bounds. However, that time the Blue Lions turned it over on the in-bounding play, sealing the win for McClain.
Washington (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the FAC) will host Hillsboro on Friday.
McClain (3-0 overall, 1-0 in the FAC) travels to Jackson on Friday.
In the jayvee game, McClain beat the Blue Lions, 39-24.
Andrew Potts had a game-high 14 points for McClain. Teammates Riley Cummings led McClain with eight points and Brandon Greene had six.
For Washington, Will Miller and Micah Brown both had nine points and
Washington won the freshman game, 52-25.
In another FAC games Tuesday, Jackson defeated Miami Trace, 56-32.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 13 13 9 14 — 49
Mc 12 10 17 13 — 52
WASHINGTON — Reico Colter 3 (3)-0-15; John Wall 2 (2)-2-12; Karson Runk 0-0-0; Brayden May 0 (2)-0-6; Raleigh Haithcock 0-0-0; Noah Hicks 0-0-0; Tanner Lemaster 3-0-6; Isaiah Haithcock 1 (2)-2-10. TOTALS — 9 (9)-4-49. Free throw shooting: 4 of 5 for 80 percent. Three-point field goals: Colter, 3; Wall, 2; B. May, 2; I. Haithcock, 2. Field goal shooting: 18 of 49 for 37 percent.
McCLAIN — Preston Saunders 4 (1)-0-11; Bryson Badgley 3 (1)-2-11; Evann Mischal 0 (1)-0-3; Seth Wise 2-0-4; Braden Wright 1-1-3; Kendyll Toney 5-1-11; Wesley Potts 4-1-9. TOTALS — 19 (3)-5-52. Free throw shooting: 5 of 14 for 36 percent. Three-point field goals: Saunders, Badgley, Mischal. Field goal shooting: 22 of 42 for 52 percent.
Chris Hoppes is the sports editor for the Record-Herald in Washington C.H.