LEES CREEK – The Washington Blue Lions basketball team denied East Clinton the chance to send its quartet of seniors out on a winning note, defeating EC 44-31 Thursday night .
With the win, Washington is now 8-13 overall, 4-9 in the SCOL.
East Clinton wraps up the regular season at 6-16 and 1-13 in the SCOL.
Washington jumped out to an 18-5 first quarter lead and extended the margin to 29-13 at the intermission.
Undaunted by the deficit, East Clinton stormed back in the third quarter with a 14-5 run, cutting the Lady Lions’ advantage to 34-27 after three periods.
Washington regained the momentum in the early minutes of the final quarter, spreading the margin back to 10 at 41-31 with just over 5:00 remaining.
“I’m glad we got the victory, but I was impressed with East Clinton’s effort tonight. They have greatly improved since we played them the first time,” said Lady Lions’ coach John Persinger. “They’ve (East Clinton) put together a nice streak, winning three of their last four, and we knew what to expect. They just never quit, despite us getting a big lead against them. But, I’ve got to also give our girls a pat on the back. They withstood the pressure and this is certainly a good win for us.”
Senior Alexis Gray led Washington with 11 points, including five in the final period as the Lady Lions outscored East Clinton 10-4.
Just missing double figures for the Lady Lions were Savannah Wallace and Hannah Haithcock with nine points each.
It was a trio of Lady Astro players who scored six points each for game high honors — Paige Lilly, senior Marissa Williams and Lacey Peterman.
Kaitlin Durbin came off the bench to add five points, including all four East Clinton points in the final period.
Lady Astro head coach Steve Gerber called it a tough night for his departing seniors, but is pleased with the way the team has progressed as the year unfolded.
“We have come a long way and there has been signs of improvement. This group of seniors (Allison Tong, Sam Gaddis, Marrisa Williams and Cierra Cooper) has given a great effort all year long,” said Gerber. “We gave them the opportunity to start tonight. We just did not get off to a good start, but they played through it and I’m proud of each one of them.”
Many times this season East Clinton has faced an uphill battle, staring at double-digit deficits. Tonight was no exception but Gerber’s squad answered the bell and made it close at the end.
“I was really pleased with the energy we had out there,” he said. “We just kept fighting and clawing our way back, even though we trailed by as many as 17 points.”
Washington struggled from the free throw line, converting just nine of 22 opportunities.
East Clinton likewise had its share of difficulty from the charity stripe, converting only 50 percent on the night, making six of 12 attempts. They were three of eight in the second half.
The Lady Astros committed 21 turnovers including 14 in the first half. Washington turned it over 14 times, including nine in the second half.
Next up for the Lady Astros, they will prepare to face former Kenton Trace Conference rival Greeneview in the Div. III Sectional at Wilmington’s Fred Summers Court 2 p.m. Feb. 13. The No. 3 seeded Lady Rams at presstime were 16-4 overall.
Feb 4, 2014
@East Clinton High School
Washington 44 East Clinton 31
(44) WASHINGTON (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Grey 4-0-3-11, McRoberts 1-0-3-5, Wallace 3-1-0-9, Haithcock 4-0-1-9, Hawk 1-0-2-4, Hines 1-0-0-2, Smith 2-0-0-4. Team Totals: 16-1-9-44.
(31) EAST CLINTON (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Tong 2-0-0-4, Lilly 2-0-2-6, Williams 2-0-2-6, Cooper 1-0-0-2, Durbin 0-1-2-5, Davis 1-0-0-2, Peterman 3-0-0-6. Team Totals: 11-1-6-31.
Bill covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @learjet.