Alyssa Blankenship and Savanna McDowell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Panther girls basketball team over the top Thursday, at Fort Vancouver High School.
Washougal held onto its one-point advantage during the final minute of regulation, then walked off the court celebrating a 56-55 victory.
“I love to see the kids playing well under pressure,” said head coach Charlie Boyce. “Down by three, you start to wonder if you can come back. These girls didn’t. They just kept playing hard, hit two big threes and held on for that last minute. It was just a great team effort.”
Before she could blink, Blankenship let the ball spin off her fingertips and watched it sail through the hoop for a game-tying basket.
“Should I shoot it?” She asked herself. “I didn’t want to turn it over. It felt very good when it went in.”
McDowell also hesitated before shooting her three, but then adrenaline took over. If a freshman could make one under pressure, the senior could too.
“I’m not much of a 3-point shooter,” she said. “I’ve missed 4,000 threes in order to make that one, and it was totally worth it.”
Megan Townsend delivered eight of her team-leading 14 points in the second quarter, before running into foul trouble. McDowell picked up the slack with seven points, and Blankenship, Megan Sharp and Crystal Chase each finished with six.
Washougal beat Tenino 60-16 Wednesday. Blankenship had 12 points, and Sharp, Chase and Rae Ann Allen each netted eight. The Panthers put the game out of reach with a 21-4 first quarter and a 20-2 third quarter.
“We’ve had a positive attitude since the first day of practice, and that’s helped us accomplish things we haven’t been able to do in the past,” McDowell said. “I think there’s nowhere to go but up from here.”
Boyce said the Panthers must be prepared for a difficult road through the 2A Greater St. Helens League. With the majority of its players back in the mix, Mark Morris is poised to make another deep run in the state tournament. Hockinson and R.A. Long both have some strong returning all-league athletes. Ridgefield comes back into the league with something to prove.
“Our goal is to compete every single night out. Control the things we can control,” Boyce said. “When we go on the road, adversity will be there. It’s not something you complain about. You just have to overcome it.”
Washougal is off to an encouraging start. After gaining two wins on the road, the Panthers will enjoy their home opener tonight against Hudson’s Bay. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
“It will be nice to shoot at our own baskets,” Boyce said. “I just hope the kids don’t feel more pressured playing in front of friends and family.”