By MITZI THOMPSON
NEW WASHINGTON —
The New Washington girls’ basketball team moved one step closer to its goal of a title after a Friday night manhandling of Rock Creek Academy 73-20 in the Class A New Washington Sectional semifinal round.
With the win, the Mustangs — ranked eighth in the final girls’ basketball poll — earned a Saturday night championship matchup with South Central, which defeated rival Lanesville 64-40 in Friday’s opening semi.
Just three weeks ago, New Wash beat South Central 52-36 during a regular-season Southern Athletic Conference showdown.
“During sectional time, every team is 0-0,” said New Wash junior guard Ashley Johnson, who is normally one of the Mustangs’ leading scorers, but whom — along with the other four starters — saw limited minutes in Friday’s game. “We can’t underestimate anybody at this point. We just have to play our game and our kind of basketball every night. We can only control what we can control.”
Friday, New Wash had complete control from the very beginning.
The Mustangs (19-2) scored five straight before Rock Creek (0-20) could find the basket, then rattled off 23 more for a 28-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“They’re a little higher level of a basketball team than us,” said Rock Creek’s first-year head coach Will Eubank. “The main thing for us coming into tonight’s game was that we wanted to improve. Earlier in the season, we only scored 12 points against them [on Nov. 29]. Some people wouldn’t call a 50-point loss an improvement, but if we use New Washington as a measuring stick, which a lot of people do because they’re so good, then we’ve improved. Seventy-three to 20 is an improvement from 90-12.”
During the second and fourth quarters, Mustangs’ coach Terry White didn’t use much of his starting five, which did not include junior forward Caroline Ricks, who turned her ankle at the end of Tuesday’s first-round game and continued to rest it Friday.
All but two of New Wash’s 18 second-quarter points came from the bench, including six straight by sophomore Shelby Haymaker, who also led her team in rebounds with eight and scored four of the Mustangs’ seven fourth-quarter points. The other came on a 3-pointer by Lexie James with 6:11 to go.
“We were able to play some ladies that wouldn’t have normally gotten to play,” said White. “And any time you can get tournament experience for your bench, it’s a good thing.”
Even so, starter Kriston Sarver led all scorers with 15 points. The team’s sole senior also grabbed seven steals and dished out a couple assists.
“We knew we just had to play focused,” Sarver said. “We had to keep our heads in the game and play it like we play any other team.
Christi Scholl — the Lions’ only senior — led her team with 10 points, while teammate Tabitha Tomaskevich blocked four shots and grabbed five rebounds. Brittney Page collected a team-high seven rebounds.