NEW WASHINGTON — New Washington held strong against Class A No. 6 Lanesville for two-and-a-half quarters in the championship of Sectional 61 Saturday night. However, a 14-1 third-quarter run propelled the Eagles to a 54-41 win, and their second straight sectional title.
”I thought we played a great ballgame the first half,” said Mustangs coach Kirsti Holloway, whose team held a five-point lead at intermission. “The kids did what we wanted to do. I think that’s why we were able to have success. In the second half, we lost a few of their players and they knocked down some shots. That’s what great teams do.”
From the outset, New Wash (13-12) battled toe-to-toe with Lanesville.
After freshman center Morgan Sonner scored inside, the Eagles (22-3) led 7-2. But New Wash guard Adrian Miles notched consecutive field goals – a layup and a 3-pointer – to tie the contest with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Taylor James nailed a 3-pointer from the baseline with three seconds left to give the Mustangs a 13-9 lead at the end of the first frame.
New Washington then went ice cold from the field. Back-to-back scores from Kennedy Gordon and Gracie Adams tied it at 13, but scoring was at a premium in the early stages of the second quarter. Holloway called a timeout after Adams’ score with 2:47 remaining.
“I think at that point it was about giving the kids a break,” she said.
The Mustangs went on a 7-2 run over the remainder of the first half, with James converting a three-point play with three seconds left to put New Wash ahead 20-15 at halftime.
James, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Mustangs a 25-17 lead with 5:15 left in the third quarter.
Emma Campbell answered with a 3 for Lanesville, sparking the game-changing 13-1 run. Adams bookended it with a 3-pointer of her own to make it 30-26.
“They are able to rotate a few more kids in than we are, and in the second half, a little bit of fatigue set in,” Holloway said.
The Eagles’ lead swelled to double digits in the fourth quarter, but New Wash tried to claw back. MacKenzie Krouse and James both hit baskets to trim the margin back to five inside the final three minutes. Lanesville, though, kept the Mustangs at bay from the free throw the rest of the way.
New Wash will lose five to graduation — James, Krouse, Kalin Campbell, Makynsie Barger and Madison Helton.
“Those five have invested a lot in the program,” Holloway said. “Most of them came up from the time they were in kindergarten. It’s hard to see kids who have grown up in the program go. You’ve spent a lot of time with them. Hopefully they’ve learned some things with the success they’ve had they can take with them as they move on. They’re great kids.”
Lanesville moves on to play in next Saturday’s West Washington Regional.