Feasting on a 6-0 start to the season, the Washougal High School boys basketball players are hungry for more.
“So far, we’re playing good. We keep getting better every single day,” said junior forward Aaron Diester. “We can’t level off now. We got to be playing our best ball by the time league starts because that’s when it really matters.”
Tested for the first time Friday night, the Panthers walked out of Fort Vancouver Trapper territory with a 65-62 victory intact. Karsten Short provided 13 points on offense and a superior effort on defense. Diester and Isaac Bischoff both netted 11 points. Down the stretch, it was Washougal who grabbed the rebounds, made the foul shots and got to the loose balls to secure the victory.
“It was a signature win for us,” said head coach Malcolm Estes. “These kids are believing in themselves and pulling for each other. They know they have to all work together for us to win ball games. It’s just a whole different feel from last year.
“It’s been a fun first six games, but we are not done yet,” he added. “If we keep working hard on this path to get better every day, we are going to be a tough team to beat in league.”
Washougal jumped all over White Salmon Saturday. Sean Guthrie scored 17 points in the varsity and the junior varsity game to finish with 34 for the night. Junior varsity won 66-29 and varsity followed with an 80-20 victory. David Crowley added 14 points in the varsity game, Short chipped in 10 and Jaden Jantzer netted nine.
“With our offense, you got to be able to stop all of us. You can’t just single out one player,” said junior guard Michael McElroy, who scored 23 points in a 92-50 victory over Stevenson on Dec. 5.
Washougal hosts Tenino Wednesday, before playing at Camas on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
“I’ll remember all of these wins and the energy we’ve created,” said senior forward Mustapha Bah. “In practice, you can see the intensity and how we all want to get better and keep winning.”
The Panthers are thrilled to be 6-0, but this is only the beginning. The true test comes in January and February, when there will be nothing but league games on the schedule. At that point, it will either be feast or famine.
“This year, we have the team to go to state and maybe districts if we keep pushing hard every day,” McElroy said. “We just have to keep pushing forward and stay hungry.”
“I just love how scrappy everybody is,” Diester added. “Everybody wants to get better, and everybody wants to win. When the guys around you want it just as bad as you do, it’s exciting.”