Three-point Panther surprise

Washougal High School girls basketball captains Maddie Down and Darcy Akers are reunited, and it feels so good.

In her first game back from an extended Christmas vacation, Down delivered 13 points for the Panthers on three 3-pointers. She also grabbed 11 rebounds and snatched four steals. Akers added 10 points on two 3-pointers, six rebounds and five assists.

“It was very exciting in the first half. Everybody was contributing,” Down said. “It was euphoric. I’ve never heard the crowd so loud at a Washougal game. Ever.”

The Washougal girls nailed eight 3-pointers in the first half, but the Woodland Beavers outscored the Panthers 30-20 in the second half to win 59-48 on a ferocious Friday night in the jungle.

“It was basketball the way it was supposed to be played. Fast and fun and tough,” said Panthers head coach Charlie Boyce. “It was a good way to get back into it after the break, especially because we had nothing to lose. Woodland should win the league.”

Woodland (9-2, 3-0) remains on top of the league standings, but Washougal (6-4, 1-1) has two more chances to get even.

“We fought the whole way, and worked as hard as we could,” Akers said. “It’s encouraging knowing that we can take on any team in this league. The next time Woodland comes to our court, it’s going to be a great game.”

The Beavers applied the pressure from the get-go Friday night, with a 6-0 advantage to start the game. The Panthers roared back on 3-pointers by Kendall Utter and Akers. After Woodland answered from downtown, we had ourselves a ball game.

The Beavers scored four more points in the first quarter, while Washougal attacked from all fronts to grab a 17-13 lead. Utter netted another basket from behind the arc, and Down delivered back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Panther crowd running wild. Akers intercepted a Woodland pass under the hoop and drew a foul while shooting a three. She made two of her three foul shots to finish off an exciting first quarter.

“It felt good to be back out there, hitting a bunch of threes,” Down said. “Darcy kept giving me the ball at the right place and the right time.”

“An assist is as good as a basket because you’re getting points on the board,” Akers said.

Akers, Savannah McDowell and Megan Townsend knocked down threes in the second quarter for Washougal, but the Beavers cut the lead to 28-26 by halftime. Townsend hitched in two points on a swift pass from Akers to jump start the Panthers in the third quarter. Townsend also scored two more points off a Washougal miss, and made a foul shot for a 3-point play. Townsend and Akers connected one more time in the third quarter, before the Panthers fell behind 43-36.

Down added one more 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, but the ball just did not bounce Washougal’s way. But that didn’t stop the Panthers from diving all over the floor and into the stands to get the ball back.

“We don’t give up. It’s not in our vocabulary,” said Akers, who took an elbow to the face and got a black eye as a reward.

“Sarah Brown showed a lot of courage. She dove on the floor for the ball at least eight times,” Down said. “I think that personifies Panther ball. We scrap.”

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