New Washington claims Regional Championship PDF Print E-mail

By Dennis Dunn
Special Correspondent

The West Washington boy’s basketball team was hoping to continue its hot streak at the Loogootee Regional, but standing in their way was a New Washington team, who is also riding a hot streak.


As it turned out it was the Mustangs who would end the Senators season with a 40-36 win in the first game at Loogootee. The Mustangs also defeated the Senators in the regular season as well.

“We had to fight back,” said WW Coach Sean Smith, whose team had to battle back from a nine-point deficit early in the third quarter. “These kids are resilient. They have a lot of pride. They didn’t fold. We just couldn’t get over the hump today.”

Once again, the Mustangs would jump out in front, but the Senators quickly tied it up at 5-all as senior Jackson Byrne hit a 3-pointer and another senior, Michael Sizemore, who got in foul trouble in the first quarter, hit two free throws. Byrne knocked down his second 3-pointer of the quarter to tie it up, but the Mustangs Hunter Lind hit a 3-pointer for the 11-8 lead.

The Senators Hunter Sanford, a senior, cut the lead to 11-10 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, baskets were hard to come for as neither team could find any rhythm. The Mustangs outscored the Senators 8-2 in the quarter and led 19-12 at the break. Sanford scored the only two points for the Senators from the free throw line and Sizemore didn’t play much because of fouls.

“We were thankful to be going into the half down seven,” Smith said. “You have to give New Washington credit because they came in and executed better than us. They made some big shots and made some big plays.”

The Mustangs’ Zach Moore scored the first basket of the third quarter to give his team a 9-point lead. However, the Senators got going as Sanford started an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 21-20. Sanford scored six points during the streak and senior Noah Green added the other two points.

After Moore hit another shot for the 23-20 lead, Green drilled a 3-pointer at the 3:56 mark to force a 23-23 tie. Green then hit a shot 24 seconds later to give the Senators their first lead of the game at 25-23. The Mustangs Stevie Mack then tied it up at 25-25 to end the third quarter.

Both teams would go back-and-forth in the fourth quarter and at the 1:10 mark Green sank a jumper for the 34-34 tie, which would be the final tie of the game. Mack hit a lay-up for the 36-34 lead. Moore got fouled and had a free throw, however, after a miss he would go down the lane and collected his own rebound and got fouled in the act of shooting. Moore would hit both free throws with 27.5 seconds left for the 38-34 lead.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Smith said. “We just absolutely did not block out.”

Sanford then drove by everyone and got a two-handed dunk to go in with 15.7 seconds left. The Mustangs Brandon Horton hit two free throws for the four-point lead, but the Senators had a couple of opportunities to score only to see their shots fall short.

After the game, an elated New Washington Coach Jonathan May said this is something he has dreamed about as a coach. May graduated from New Washington in 2000.

“As a player, it’s something I never thought about,” May said. “The sectional was it. ... These kids have a lot of grit, and they have a lot of determination.”

As for Smith, he had nothing but good things to say about May and his Mustangs.

“I know they’ve waited a long time for this,” Smith said. “I hope they make some noise in the regional final.”

Both teams were guilty of seven turnovers apiece, but the Mustangs shot 7 of 9 from the free throw line, while the Senators shot 4 of 6.

Sanford led the Senators with 16 points and Green added nine.

As for the Mustangs, Moore led the way with 18 and Mack scored 11 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for a double-double.

The Senators (20-7) said good bye to six seniors who played their final game. Those are Sizemore, Sanford, Green, Byrne, Peyton Walker and Bryce Farmer.

“These seniors will be missed tremendously,” Smith said. “They won 40 games the last two years, won a couple of sectionals and a holiday tourney and they are a great group. It’s an accomplishment of all of the memories they earned and I am thankful I had the opportunity to coach them.

“These kids have accomplished a lot. They shouldn’t hang their heads and we know tournament play is tough. We didn’t execute for most of the game, but we did in the third quarter. We looked nervous and didn’t look like a team who has been here before.”

Mustangs claim regional crown

After winning over the Senators to advance to the regional finals, the Mustangs claimed the crown with a 67-62 win over Wood Memorial. Zach Moore led the winners with 19 points, Hunter Lind had 15 and Stevie Mack added 11.

The Mustangs (20-9) will now face Indianapolis Tindley (22-5) in the first game of the Richmond Semistate on Saturday, March 18.

Saturday, March 11,
at Loogootee Regional
WW    10    2    13    11–36
NW     11    8     6     15–40
West Washington (20-7): Hunter Sanford 16, Noah Green 9, Jackson Byrne 6, Michael Sizemore 5.
New Washington (19-9): Zach Moore 18, Stevie Mack 11, Caleb Ellison 6, Hunter Lind 3, Brandon Horton 2.
3-point goals: WW 4 (Byrne 2, Sizemore, Green), NW 5 (Ellison 2, Moore 2, Lind)
Game Two
Wood Memorial def. Loogootee, 64-43
New Washington def. Wood Memorial, 67-62