MT. CARMEL, Ill. —
A torrid third quarter was enough to overcome a cold first half as the Washington Hatchets picked up a Big 8 Conference win by a
52-48 count over Mt. Carmel on Friday.
Trailing 23-18 at halftime, Washington (8-11, 2-4 Big 8) came out firing in the third quarter. The Hatchets hit 8-10 from the floor in the period, including a perfect 4-4 from behind the 3-point line. Andy Garland started off the period with a trey for WHS, and Colton Garland finished the stanza with a buzzer beating three as the Hatchets outscored Mt. Carmel (12-14, 1-5) 21-11 in the quarter.
In between, Colton Garland added another 3-pointer, while Cullen Arnold added seven of his team-high 13 points as well. Andy Garland finished with 12 points, followed by Colton Garland with 10.
After seeing his team play passively through most of the first half against Mt. Carmel's 2-3 zone defense, Washington coach Gene Miiller changed defenses in an effort to get his squad to be more aggressive, and the strategy worked.
"I thought the kids played really well, especially the last two and half quarters. We were down 23-11 at one point in the first half, we just struggled and couldn't get anything going," said Miiller. "We decided to go after them and changed some things up defensively, we started trapping and being more aggressive, and it really got us going." The Hatchet comeback started just before halftime. Mt. Carmel led 23-11 late in the first half after having held WHS scoreless for nearly 8:00 going back to late in the first quarter when a pair of Arnold baskets sandwiched around an Andy Garland 3-pointer produced a 7-0 Hatchet run just before halftime.
Washington was able to hold off the Golden Aces, who were led by Levi Laws' 19 points, in the fourth quarter thanks in part to the efforts of Cody Milligan, who scored all of six his points in the final eight minutes of play, including two key rebound baskets in the middle of the quarter. The Hatchets, who have struggled to find scoring at times this year, placed three players in double figures and seven players into the scoring column.
Miiller was pleased to get contributions from several different players as the veteran coach looks to utilize more of roster as the season heads toward the state tourney.
"I thought we got more aggressive in the second half. Austin Ghirardelli gave us some good play, Colton hit a big three, and Andy Garland hit some shots," said Miiller. "Cullen Arnold scored down low for us, and Cody Milligan hit some big shots. We got good play out of a lot of kids. We decided that we¹re going to play a lot of kids, and I just told them 'Go out there and play hard,'" said Miiller.
Jarrod Purdue hit a pair of 3-pointers on the way to six points, while Austin Ghirardelli added three points.
Ghirardelli also added a solid floor game as the junior was inserted into the starting lineup by Miiller. Jake Bedwell added a basket for two points for the Hatchets.
The Hatchets close the regular season Friday.