The Washington girls basketball team brought home the silver ball after a 39-33 defeat at the hands of Jones at the Big House.
They had wins over Silo (50-34) and Kiefer (46-43) on the way to Saturday’s championship game with Jones.
Washington began the State tournament with the formidable Silo Rebels, who were led this season by scoring machine, Tiani Ellison.
Washington countered Ellison’s scoring prowess, which is well over 20 points a game, with the defensive efforts of Breanna Lindert .
“Breanna held her and did a phenomenal job holding her to 16 points,” said head coach Kale Simon. “I was really happy with her.”
Offensively, Kelby Beller led the way for the Warriors with 25 points.
She hit five threes in the game and scored 14 points in the first half to keep the Warriors in the game.
“We got down early and it created a sense of urgency for us,” Simon said. “Kelby got the threes off of steals and she sparked us.”
The Warriors trailed by one point at halftime but put their foot on the gas in the second half, out-scoring Silo by 17 to close the game.
Rielyn Scheffe also found double figures in scoring with 11 points.
Washington found a stubborn Kiefer team in the semifinal game on Friday.
“Kiefer is a good basketball team,” Simon said. “They have two future college players.”
The Warriors were down again in the first half – trailing by nine at halftime.
But they made up ground in the third quarter and it was a one-point game headed into the fourth quarter.
Scheffe (17), Lindert (11) and Beller (10) teamed up again on the offensive end of the floor to lead the team in scoring.
The majority of their points came in the second half when the rubber met the road.
Beller hit a fall-away layup to take the lead with under a minute left in the game on a heads-up play.
Scheffe iced the game with two free throws with just seconds remaining after she was intentionally fouled.
The Warriors squared off with Jones in the finals on Saturday.
It was their first appearance in the State finals since 2016, when they faced off with a Jaden Hobbs-led Alva Gold Bugs team.
Washington led Jones by two after the end of the first quarter.
But the loss of Beller to a knee injury was the real story of the quarter.
Scheffe led the team in scoring with 16 points.
Simon said his team fell short in rebounding against Jones, who claimed a three-pete with the win.
“We knew defense and rebounding would win the game,” he said. “We didn’t defensive rebound well enough to win the game.”
He was happy with the way his players handled Jones’ star player, Boston Berry, who is a McNeese State signee.
“We knew she was their best player and we held her to under 10 points.”
Overall, the coach said he’s proud of his team and what they accomplished this season.
“I’m super proud of our girls,” he said.
He also acknowledged his two seniors, Kyndall Wells and Daisy Lampkin.
“We talk about being ‘outlasters’ here. Being someone who we’ll talk positive about long after they’re gone and they are,” Simon said. “The sacrifice by Kyndall and her leadership and mentality through the whole season were big.
“And Daisy’s leadership was important. It’s rare for kids to make decisions to do something when it’s not the easy choice.”
Beller and Scheffe both made the All-Tournament team in the State tournament.
Washington finished with a 27-2 record with only one loss to a school in their same class.
They won three tournaments, including the Konawa, Latta and Washington tournaments.
“I love my team,” Simon said.
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