By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
There’s a thin line between winning and losing, and the Washington Hatchets have been on the short end often this season.
The Hatchets (6-10, 1-4 Big Eight) dropped their second game in a row Monday evening, 35-33 to Vincennes Lincoln (13-5, 6-0) at the Hatchet House, despite 14 points from Andy Garland.
In what has been billed the oldest rivalry in Indiana high school basketball, the Hatchets and the Alices once again went down to the wire and the visitors grinded out a tough victory. Washington is now 1-5 in games decided by five points or less.
After an Avory Mickens layup to start the game for Vincennes Lincoln, Washington ran off a 9-2 run that could have been much larger. Washington had a handful of jump shots carom off the rim in the opening quarter, and settled for a 9-6 lead after one quarter.
“I thought we took good shots, we just didn’t hit shots,” said Washington coach Gene Miiller. “We missed a lot of good shots that we normally hit, and they didn’t go in.”
The teams traded baskets in the second quarter with neither team holding a lead of more than two points. A Josh Sprinkle put back with three seconds to play before halftime gave the Alices a 15-13 advantage. Sprinkle finished with seven points.
Garland scored 10 of Washington’s 13 first half points, but managed only four more in the second half. He needed help carrying the scoring load, and in the second half he got that. Midway through the third quarter with Lincoln holding a 19-18 lead, senior Cullen Arnold converted two free throws for his first points of the game to give Washington a one-point lead.
A Jarrod Purdue 3-pointer a few minutes later gave Washington a 23-22 lead, but once again Sprinkle converted a field goal from close range to give the Alices a lead at the end of the quarter. Brandt Nowaskie made jumper pushed the lead to 26-23 early in the fourth quarter.
Washington responded with five straight points on a Garland layup and Purdue’s second 3-pointer of the game to give the Hatchets a 28-26 lead. Alices coach Jeff Hein took a timeout at the 4:42 mark, and for the first time all night Washington appeared to have the momentum, thanks to its defense.
“I thought our defense played well throughout the basketball game,” Miiller said. They’re a tough team to guard. (Avory) Mickens is a tough guy to handle and (Brandt) Nowaskie and (Josh) Sprinkle, those three guys are pretty good basketball players.”
Two minutes later, Nowaskie scored on a layup to put the Alices ahead, at 30-29 with 2:15 to play. Less than a minute later, Arnold connected on his only field goal of the night, on a put back to give Washington a one-point lead with less than 90 seconds to play.
A Nowaskie jumper gave Vincennes Lincoln the lead for good with 70 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession, Colten Garland turned the ball over on a traveling call in front of the Hatchets bench. Nowaskie converted two free throws, and Purdue scored a layup with five seconds left on the clock.
Nowaskie made good on his first free throw attempt, but misfired on his second and Washington made a mad dash for a final shot attempt. Garland took a pass on the left wing, but time ran out before he could set and put up the potential game-winner.
The Alices only had four different players score points, while getting 33 of their 35 from Nowaskie, Mickens (16 points) and Sprinkle.
Despite the disappointing loss, Miiller saw many positives from his team, which has lost four of its five Big Eight conference games. Garland had 14 points, while Colten Garland had seven points; Purdue added eight points and Arnold rounded out the Washington scoring with four points.
“We kept our poise down the stretch, and had a chance to win,” Miiller said. “I thought Andy Garland had a nice game. He was really aggressive. He played well coming off the screens, and attacked the basket.”
The hard fought loss was encouraging since Washington may see the Alices again in the sectional next month, but whoever they face they will have to bring that same type of effort, Miiller said.
“We know what we have to play against,” Miiller said. “This is if not the best team, one of the best teams in our sectional. We just have to work this last month of the season to get better in order to win the tournament. We’ve beaten Pike Central; we lost two close games to Jasper and Vincennes Lincoln, and got crashed by Heritage Hills. I think the sectional is still wide open. We have a chance if we continue to work hard.”
VINCENNES LINCOLN 6 9 9 11 – 35
WASHINGTON 9 4 10 10 -- 33
Vincennes Lincoln (35)
Toole 0 0-0 1 0, Mickens 6 4-6 2 16, Sprinkle 3 1-2 0 7, Nowaskie 3 4-6 3 10, Claycomb 1 0-0 1 2, Barmes 0 0-0 1 0. Totals 13 9-14 8 35.
C. Garland 2 1-2 5 7, A. Garland 5 4-4 1 14, Arnold 1 2-2 3 4, Milligan 0 0-0 4 0, Purdue 3 0-0 0 8. Totals 11 7-8 10 33.
3-point goals: Washington 4 (Purdue 2, C. Garland 2)
Junior Varsity: Washington 40, Vincennes Lincoln 29.