Roaring comeback for the Panthers

Washougal boys basketball heads to Camas tonight

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Aaron Diester roars on the way to the hoop Wednesday, at Washougal High School. The Panthers turned a 10-point deficit at halftime into a 53-52 victory.

Seven wins to start the season is a reason to stand up and holler.

In one of the wildest finishes inside the Washougal jungle gym Wednesday, the Panthers rallied from 10 points down at halftime to defeat Tenino 53-52.

A relentless attack under the basket by Isaac Bischoff, Aaron Diester, Michael McElroy and Karsten Short erased Tenino’s comfortable lead in the third quarter.

“What I saw in that third quarter was a determination not to get beat,” said head coach Malcolm Estes. “It’s because of guys like Aaron Diester, Isaac Bischoff and Michael McElroy that we were able to come back and win this game. They wouldn’t let their teammates quit. That’s the huge difference between this year and last year.”

David Crowley came off the bench and delivered a clutch 3-pointer that tied the score at 37 late in the third quarter. The ball bounced off both sides of the net before settling inside the basket.

“All I wanted was for that 3-pointer to go in. Just please go in,” Crowley said. “There was no time to celebrate. We just had to go on to the next play and keep playing hard.”

The Panthers kept feeding Crowley under the net, and he put the hot potato through the net. In one breathtaking sequence, Crowley leaped higher than the 6-foot-6 Bischoff and palmed the ball back up for two points.

“I don’t even know how I got to that ball. I was just going for the rebound, but I was lucky enough to be able to put it back in,” Crowley said. “It’s so exciting to be able to come in and hit big shots for the team. I was just playing hard for the team. That’s all I was trying to do.”

Tenino hit a huge 3-pointer to get back up by six points with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game. Crowley’s palm ball cut it to four, but the Beavers pushed it to five.

Jaden Jantzer jumped off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer from up top to get Washougal within two.

“I really wanted to be 7-0,” Jantzer said. “When I came in, that’s what I wanted.”

The Panthers got the ball back with a chance to tie the game in the final 30 seconds. Diester dished the ball to Jantzer on the right wing, and he swished another 3-pointer.

The pop from crowd as the ball scorched the net sent chills down Jantzer’s spine.

“I’ll never forget the roar of the crowd,” he said. “We definitely have the best fans.”

“For Jaden to come off the bench and hit those two big threes was amazing,” Estes said. “That takes ice in your veins to be able to do that.”

All of the sudden, Washougal led 53-52 with 19.7 seconds left on the clock. After three misses by Tenino, that turned out to be the final score.

“You can see what happens when we all work hard as a team,” Crowley said. “We just need to keep working hard in practices and in games, and never quit.”

The Panthers look to keep their winning streak going tonight at Camas. Tip off is at 7 p.m. The freshmen teams play first at 4 p.m., followed by the junior varsity game at 5:30 p.m.