The Washougal High School boys basketball team picked up the intensity in the second half and pushed the game into overtime, but the Panthers were never able to get a handle on the Hockinson Hawks.
Michael McElroy made both of his foul shots to tie the game up for Washougal and send it into overtime. Nate Adams won the tip off for the Panthers, Austin Tran got to the ball and put it right in the basket without hesitation to give Washougal the lead. Hockinson then closed out the game on a 16-0 scoring drive to win by the score of 67-53.
“It felt good to take the game into overtime,” McElroy said. “We felt like we had the momentum. But after getting those first two points, it started to go downhill in a hurry.”
Hockinson had a 29-22 lead at halftime, before Washougal opened the third quarter up on a 12-0 run. McElroy drove to the hoop for two points and Jaden Jantzer nailed a 3-pointer to get the Panthers back in it. Aaron Deister hit a jump shot to tie the game, Adams added a jumper to give Washougal the lead, and then Tran made a three to put the Panthers up by five.
“We knew we had a run in us. We did not play well in that first half,” Deister said. “We got stops on defense and made big shots on offense. We felt like we had it during that stretch.”
Hockinson countered with a 7-0 scoring drive down the stretch in the third quarter to reclaim the lead. Jantzer hit another 3-pointer to get it right back for Washougal, but the Hawks answered with a three of their own to go up by two points heading into the fourth quarter.
Deister rebounded McElroy’s miss and put it back up for two points to tie the game. The Hawks came right back with two points, but Deister tied it up again. The Panthers were able to build a five-point advantage off a 3-pointer by Sean Guthrie and a jumper from Jantzer. Washougal still led by three points with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left, after Tran netted a breathtaking shot just tenths of a second before the shot clock expired.
Then came one of the biggest swings of the game. Hockinson made a foul shot, missed the second one, grabbed the rebound, put it back up for two more points, drew a foul on the shot and converted it for four points and the lead. The Hawks held on to a 51-49 advantage for more than two minutes, before McElroy tied the game back up at the foul line with 11 seconds left on the clock.
Deister delivered 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Adams added nine points. Jantzer, Guthrie and Tran each netted seven, and McElroy had six.
Overtime was a different story for Washougal. Hockinson jumped out in front on two 3-pointers and never looked back.
“They deserved to win that game,” McElroy said. “We want the whole team to remember all the hard work we put in. No matter what the score was at the end of the game, every single person who stepped on that court tried their hardest.”
The Panther boys didn’t make it to state like they dreamed, but they are proud to be the first boys basketball team in school history to defeat Mark Morris and Hockinson. Head coach Malcolm Estes said seniors Adams, Josh Banks, Cole Crosby, Deister, Guthrie, Jantzer, McElroy and Regan Townsend are closer than any group he has worked with.
“You hope a group like this comes around more than once in a lifetime,” Estes said. “If we can continue to build a quality group of kids, this is going to be a great program to watch for years to come. And it all started with these kids.”