BY MITZI THOMPSON
NEW WASHINGTON —
Highs and lows, ups and downs, runs and droughts, turnovers and fouls were the story of the game that took almost two weeks to get in on Thursday night.
In the end, though, the Class A No. 14 New Washington girls’ basketball team held on for a 48-43 win over Class 4A Jeffersonville at Jim Matthews Gymnasium.
The game, which was originally scheduled for December 29 but postponed twice, seemed to be all but in the books in the waning minutes as New Washington held onto a nine-point lead and all of the momentum.
But the scrappy Red Devils (5-10) refused to go down quietly, scoring eight unanswered points to close the gap to 44-43 with just a minute to go in regulation.
“Even at that point, we still knew we had to get a stop,” said Jeff’s first-year head coach Matt Pait.
And they did.
Jeff guard Chelsea Lewis stole the ball at halfcourt with 45 seconds left in the game but couldn’t convert on the layup. Fifteen seconds later, the Mustangs (11-2) turned the ball over, giving the Red Devils another chance to take the lead. But again they couldn’t get the shot to fall.
“It was completely our fault,” Pait said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well. We didn’t shoot well all night.”
The Mustangs sealed their victory at the free-throw line, where juniors Caroline Ricks shot 3-for-4 and Ashley Johnson 1-for-2.
“We kind of got rattled there for a little bit at the end,” said Ricks, the team’s inside presence who finished with eight points and a game-high 17 rebounds. “I don’t know if we were paying too much attention to the name (of the school) on their jerseys or what. But we knew we had to get our heads back in it and finish it off.”
Jeffersonville has now lost five straight including overtime losses at Evansville Memorial and Charlestown.
“It’s kind of the story of our year,” said Pait, whose team also lost a close Hoosier Hills Conference game against Jennings County in overtime earlier in the season. “We get down early, we don’t play focused, we don’t play real smart, then when it gets late all the sudden we show up. We make it interesting, but we have to play for all four quarters. We played for a quarter and a half tonight, and you’re not going to be able to get away with that against good teams like this.”
Jeff’s best period was the first one.
After a scoreless opening three minutes that saw nine total turnovers between the two teams, the Red Devils shot out to a 14-6 lead behind a quick offense led by Aurreeshae Hines, who scored six points in two minutes to lead the way.
The Mustangs, however, countered with a 11-2 run that carried over into the second quarter. By the half, the Mustangs were ahead 26-19, and five minutes into the third period, they held a 17-point advantage before the Red Devils began their run.
“It was just a complete team effort, and when I say that I mean the girls on the team, the coaching staff and the community,” said Mustangs’ coach Terry White. “It’s a real confidence builder to get a win against a team like Jeffersonville. We have nothing but respect for their program.”
Johnson led New Washington with 21 points, while teammate Kriston Sarver scored 10.
Haley Vogen had a double-double for Jeff with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Hines scored 11 points.
New Washington will return to action on Saturday when it hosts Switzerland County at 2:30 p.m. Jeffersonville will host Jasper at 7:30 on Saturday evening.