Washougal takes control, earns 44-42 victory

Panthers struggle in first half, at free-throw line

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The Washougal boys continued their winning streak Thursday as they topped R.A. Long, 44-42.

The Panthers (8-0) trailed the Lumberjacks 20-14 late in the first half, but Washougal then scored the final six points of the second quarter to tie the game 20-20 at halftime.

“We struggled against their zone defense, as far as getting good looks and shots,” said head coach Malcolm Estes.

The Panthers returned to the court fired up for the second half, and scored the first 10 points of the third quarter — holding R.A. Long scoreless for the first six minutes.

“We out-scored them 16-0,” Estes said. “That was the difference in the game. The rest of the game we were in control the whole time.”

Free throws gave the Panthers some trouble in the fourth quarter as they went five for 12 from the foul line. However, Washougal was still able to maintain a steady five to six point lead. RA Long’s successful 3-pointer from half-court at the buzzer still wasn’t enough to spoil a Panther win.

“It should have been one we put away early,” Estes admitted. “We need to execute zone offense better and make our foul shots. The gym at R.A. Long can be difficult to shoot in, and they play well there. We still feel like we were better than them. We forced our will on them in the second half and didn’t give them any good looks.”

Estes praised seniors Yorro Bah and Spencer Adams for their strong defensive play.

“He played outstanding defense,” Estes said of Adams, who had 8 points and eight rebounds. “He was the catalyst for us getting the game turned around.”

Senior Ryan Taylor scored 12 points for the Panthers.

“He hit some big shots early for us when we were struggling,” Estes said. “That was important.”

Noah Prangley, also a senior, added 13 points.

The is the first time the Panthers have gone 8-0 since the start of the 2011-12 season.

After the Christmas holiday, the Panthers will take on La Center Tuesday, Dec. 30 and then W.F. West Friday, Jan. 2. Both games begin at 7 p.m., at WHS.

“We want to work on stuff, get better and continue to build momentum,” the coach said. “[The next two non-league games] are not as important as the league games coming up, starting with Woodland in January at home.”

According to Estes, his team has some work to do, but the tools that have the potential to lead to success are there.

“I have no doubt these young men are going to do that,” he said. “They have a singular mind-set of playing together and putting team first.”

WHS girls win in final seconds

During Friday night’s home match-up against R.A. Long, the Washougal girls trailed the entire game — except when it mattered most.

In the final seconds, Crystal Chase fed the ball to Haley Briggs, who came through with the crucial 2-point basket with 3.6 seconds left on the clock.

This gave the Panthers exactly what they needed to edge the Lumberjills 42-41.

Coach Brian Oberg said the team struggled on offense throughout the game, but its defense was on point.

“We swarmed them all night with great communication and really good rotations off the ball,” he said. “Our pressure seemed to wear them down late in the game.”

Briggs scored a total of 10 points for Washougal while RaeAnn Allen racked up 10 points and had eight rebounds. Alyssa Blankenship delivered nine points.

According to Oberg, Mackenzie Kitchen and Lindsey Thomas were strong forces off the bench. Kitchen ended the night with six rebounds and four points, while Thomas contributed four points and played a huge role down the stretch.

Overall, Oberg said he is proud of his team’s win.

“Our girls refused to quit and kept their heads in the game right until the final buzzer,” he said. “As a coach, you can’t ask for more than that. (I’m) just very happy they were able to execute when it mattered most.”

Oberg said the team will have to regroup following the loss of Brenna Vargo last week to a torn ACL. This development has had a major impact on the team — particularly its offense, which was apparent Friday night.

“She is a huge loss and we have to find a way to get back on track and find a rhythm on the offensive side of things,” he said. “Other girls will need to step up, otherwise I see a lot of close games that will make things very difficult as we head into a tough bunch of games.”

Next, Washougal (7-1, 2-0) travels to Centralia Tuesday, Dec. 30, for a game at 7:30 p.m., followed by matches at Woodland Jan. 6, and at home against Hockinson Jan. 9 and Mark Morris Jan. 13.