From the opening tip, Washougal was ready for Ridgefield.
The official tossed the ball into the air, Beyonce Bea flicked it to Mason Oberg, and Oberg passed the ball back to Bea on an open lane to the game’s first two points.
In just a few minutes, Washougal was up 11-0.
“We wanted to get on a run early,” Oberg said. “I hope we can come out and play every game like we did the first quarter. Just stealing the ball and finishing at the rim.”
The Panthers cruised into halftime, up by 12. By the end of the third quarter, they only led by three. Washougal then outscored Ridgefield 19-9 in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on a 54-41 victory.
“We lost it a little bit and let them hit a couple big threes, but then brought back the intensity and shut them down,” Bea said. “We’re really passionate. We have a lot of energy and love for the game.”
Bea scored the first six points for Washougal in the fourth quarter. Paige Wilson added a rebound, put back and made a foul shot. Oberg and McKinley Stotts made their shots from the foul line, and Lindsey Thomas nailed a 3-pointer.
“We really felt we were going to run away with that,” said head coach Brian Oberg. “It makes it that much more of a nice win when you know you can fight through that adversity and still finish strong.”
Bea finished the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Mason Oberg racked up 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.
“We slowed down in the third quarter and gave up a lot of shots,” Mason Oberg said. “We came out way better in the fourth quarter and showed what we could do. We hustled everywhere, just like the first quarter. We were getting steals and shots everywhere. That was good.”
Tianna Barnett, Toryi Midland and Thomas were ferocious on defense, weaving steals and rebounds into baskets for Washougal.
“They frustrate offenses, and that’s what we want to do,” said coach Oberg. “They’re kind of our enforcers. They did it, tonight.”
Thomas said the offense was there for the Panthers, at times, but they could always fall back on their defense.
“As soon as you start getting the steals and the assists, it really just pumps everyone up,” she said. “They are so excited to keep playing, and wanting to keep doing what we started with.
“The third quarter got away from us,” Thomas added, “but in the fourth quarter, we brought it together and just closed it out.”
Washougal will be tested after the holiday break with road games at Hockinson Jan. 3, Mark Morris Jan. 10 and Columbia River Jan. 13. All three games start at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tough stretch for us,” coach Oberg said. “One thing about this group, they trust each other. They get after each other, but then they go and make a play.”