Thirteen Panther boys basketball players signed on the dotted line for Washougal Thursday, and then they went out and beat Mark Morris for the first time in 41 games by the final score of 66-58.
"Before the game I wrote 'Do you believe?' on the board and then walked out," said head coach Malcolm Estes. "They all signed their names below it."
Seniors Nate Adams, Aaron Desiter, Michael McElory and Jaden Jantzer attacked the basket at will, and senior Sean Guthrie was deadly from behind the 3-point line. Yorro Bah nailed a tremendous 3-pointer to give the Panthers the momentum late in the game. He also took a charge on defense to get the ball back for Washougal.
Mark Morris reclaimed a slim advantage, but McElory answered with a basket and a foul shot for three points to get the lead right back. The Monarchs lost possession on the next series, and McElroy kicked it to Adams for two quick points. Washougal got the ball back again, and Austin Tran hit a 3-point dagger to put the Panthers up by six points. McElroy added a foul shot to make it 58-51.
Mark Morris chipped away with foul shots and a 3-pointer to get back within three points. Jantzer hit both of his foul shots, but then the Monarchs converted a quick two to make it a 3-point game again. Jantzer hit two more foul shots, Mark Morris missed it's next shot, McElroy grabbed the rebound and made both of his foul shots to give Washougal a commanding 65-58 lead. Deister added one more point at the foul line for good measure.
"We knew we could win this game for our fans," Jantzer said. "Everyone on our team believed it. We all signed our names on the board in the locker room."
The 13 Panthers spent the day with their classmates getting pumped up. By the time Deister, McElory, Jantzer and Tran stopped by the Washougal Crossing Quizno's for a pre-game meal, they were loose.
"Quizno's fuels you," McElory said. "Put that in. Maybe I'll get a free sandwich."
The opportunity for the boys basketball team to make history was the talk of the town today in Washougal. Imagine what the stories, conversations and memories are going to be like tomorrow. Anything is possible when you believe.
See you on the sidelines.