By Mike Myers
EVANSVILLE - Though the scoreboard may have not reflected it, the game certainly did show improvement as the Washington Hatchets dropped a 76-62 non conference tilt at Evansville Central on Friday.
Washington (0-2) was much better on the offensive end of the court in the Hatchets’ second outing of the young campaign, besting their season opening offensive output by 35 points against Central (1-1). The Hatchets shot 52 percent (23-44) from the field and placed four players in the double figures on Friday, led by 16 points each from senior center Cullen Arnold and junior forward Tyler Stoll.
Sophomore guard Jarrod Purdue got his first career varsity start and responded with three 3-pointers on the way to 11 points, while freshman Colton Garland dialed long distance three times as well in netting 12 points. Overall, the Hatchets were 7-15 from behind the arc. Jake Brashear’s four points and a bucket for two from Cody Milligan rounded out the Hatchet scoring.
It was an offensive performance that Washington coach Gene Miiller could take heart in despite the loss. In particular, Miiller liked the balance his team showed between the inside game of Stoll and Arnold and the outside shooting of Purdue and Garland.
“Offensively I thought we played a little better, we hit some shots. We got off to a slow start, but I thought we started moving a little better and hitting some shots. I thought Stoll did a nice job of moving tonight and finding the openings in the zone,” said Miiller. “Stoll was aggressive and found the right spots to move, and that’s a key for him to move. We have to have that movement, we have to be able to score inside. It’s hard to win if you can’t score points inside.”
But Central led throughout the contest with even hotter shooting than the Hatchets. The Bears hit the basket at a 57 percent (34-54) clip, including 9-15 from 3-point land. Jalen Bender topped Central with 24 points, followed by Beau Dedmond with 20. The Bears led at all stops, including 17-11 after one quarter, 32-25 at halftime and 53-43 heading into the final eight minutes of action.
Miiller knew the talented Bears would be tough to defend.
“We just didn’t get enough stops. Central is a good basketball team,” Miiller said the Bears, who were 10-14 in the fourth quarter to thwart a Hatchet comeback bid. “They shot the ball well, we just couldn’t stop them.”
Central prevailed in the reserve contest 44-27. Connor Brown led WHS with nine points on the strength of a trio of 3-pointers, while Carson Smith was next with eight points.
Washington will enter the Cougar Den tonight to face North Daviess.