NEW WASHINGTON —
Ashley Johnson scored more than half of New Washington’s points and came up clutch in the final minutes to lead the hosts to a 48-46 down-to-the-wire victory over Class 2A No. 11 Providence at James Matthews Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Johnson contributed six of her game-leading 25 points in the final three minutes, helping the Mustangs claw their way back from a six-point deficit and finish the game with a 10-2 run for the win.
“When I looked at the clock and there were less than two minutes left and we were down by three, I knew we had to get a quick score then get the ball back right away,” said Johnson. “Our team made some huge, huge plays in those two minutes. It was a total effort, and I couldn’t be more proud of this team right now.”
Providence (11-4), meanwhile, wasn’t able to take advantage of its opportunities down the stretch. The Pioneers went 0-for-3 at the free-throw line in the final 45 seconds — all at times that could have given them the lead.
“That’s a common theme,” said Providence coach Brad Burden. “In three of our four losses now — and I’m not taking anything away from the other teams, because they’ve all been very good teams that played very well — but in those losses, we’ve shot 50 percent or less from the free-throw line.”
On Tuesday, the Pioneers finished 3-for-13.
“We just missed too many free throws and turned the ball over at inopportune times,” Burden said. “But New Washington is a good team. They’re a lot better than their record reflects, and Johnson played a fantastic basketball game. We threw everything we had at her and she still shined.”
The Pioneers led by three points and had the ball at the one-minute mark. But they turned it over with a jump ball and paid for it with a jumper by Johnson that closed the gap to one at 46-45.
The Mustangs quickly stopped the clock, putting Pioneer freshman Claire Rauck on the foul line where she missed the front end of a one-and-one.
New Washington senior Brooke Abbott grabbed the rebound then — on the other end — delivered an entry pass to Johnson, who was fouled going up for the shot. Johnson made both her free throws, putting the Mustangs ahead for good.
Junior Lexie James then sealed New Washington’s win by stripping the ball in Providence’s front court with five seconds left. She drew a foul and hitting the first of the ensuing free throws to give the game its final score.
“This is a big win for us,” said New Washington coach Terry White. “Providence is a good team and they’re having a very good year. They seem to know their rolls well.”
The win also was somewhat of a pivotal point for the Mustangs, who have faced a bit of adversity lately in permanently losing a four-year starting post player to an injury.
“We are having to sort of redefine our roles,” said White, whose team lost two straight games and three of the last four before Tuesday’s win. “[On Monday] we had a get-your-attention practice. It was intense, and it made us realize the fact that we need to improve in some things and we need to do it rapidly. I think tonight — in the second half, anyway — the players responded and played with a lot of heart.”
The Mustangs trailed by as many as six in the first half and were oftentimes controlled by Providence’s quick tempo. The hosts began to take charge three minutes into the second half when back-to-back buckets by Johnson — both off Providence turnovers — tied the game at 31.
Later in the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer by senior Courtney Amick ignited the game-ending Mustangs run.
Junior Lexie James sealed New Washington’s win, stripping the ball in Providence’s front-court with five seconds left, drawing a foul then hitting the first of the ensuing free-throws to give the game its final score.
New Washington will return to action on Thursday at Class 3A No. 8 Madison (10-1). Providence, which was led by Rauck’s 18 points on Tuesday, will visit Charlestown on Friday.
NEW WASHINGTON 48, PROVIDENCE 46
Providence 14 12 12 8—46
New Washington 16 9 7 16—48
Providence (11-4): Claire Rauck 18, Taylor Smallwood 14, Bayley Wade 9, Michaela Hoke 3, Lillian Hughes 2.
New Washington (7-6): Ashley Johnson 25, Courtney Amick 12, Brooke Abbott 4, Shelby Haymaker 2, Emilee Holloway 2, Kaitlyn Schindler 2, Lexie James 1.
3-point field goals: Providence 7 (Rauck 4, Smallwood, Wade, Hoke); New Washington 4 (Amick 3, Johnson).
Rebounds: Providence 36 (Smallwood 9); New Washington 39 (Abbott 9).