PRINCETON — The Washington Hatchets were unable to get untracked on a cold night in Princeton as the Tigers claimed a Big 8 Conference win by a 55-39 count on Friday.
Washington (2-10, 0-3) never led in the contest against Princeton (10-3, 3-1). Turnovers, of which the Hatchets committed 20, were the main culprit for Washington which scored less than 40 points for the fourth time this season.
The Hatchets shot the ball well (47 percent) but only attempted 32 shots, while the Tigers shot 44 percent from the field but took 50 shots and only turned the ball over seven times.
Hatchet coach Gene Miiller wasn’t happy with his own team’s ball handling but also credited a senior-laden Princeton squad.
“We just have to do better job taking care of the basketball. You just can’t turn the basketball over and beat good teams,” said Miiller. “We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.
“So many times tonight the ball was just taken out of our hands, either right off the dribble or just taken out of our hands,” said Miiller. “We asked the kids ‘Why is that?’ It’s because they put great pressure on the basketball, they really get into you, they pressure you hard. And we didn’t protect the basketball very well.”
The Hatchets played through 11 first half turnovers to trail just 24-18 at halftime.
A pair of first quarter threes from Garland helped keep the Tigers within range at 14-12 after eight minutes of play but Princeton claimed the second quarter 10-6 to stake out a six-point halftime lead.
Washington switched to a 1-3-1 defense in the second quarter and slowed the Tigers down, but the Hatchets’ inability to hit the basket kept them from cutting into the Princeton lead.
“We kind of slowed the game down, we were within six at halftime,” said Miiller. “But the second half they came out and hit some shots and we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The Tigers ran out to a 9-2 start in the third quarter to build a 33-20 lead and maintained a double digit lead throughout the second half. Princeton led 37-24 after three quarters of play.
Kinzer Havill topped the Tigers with 20 points, followed by 14 from Trent Shafer and 10 from Colton Wilder. Princeton will be a tough out come March according to Miiller.
“It’s a senior team, they play five seniors, and they play like seniors, they’re aggressive and hard nosed,” said Miiller. “Ryan (Princeton coach Ryan Haywood) has done a good job, they’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Colton Garland led WHS with 13 points, followed by 10 from Jake Bedwell. Tyler Stoll and Jacob Overton added six points apiece for the Hatchets, while Austin Ghirardelli and Matthew Sparks each netted a basket for two points each.
Washington dropped the JV game 46-35.
Connor Brown led the Hatchets with 14 points, followed by six from Matthew Stephens and five from Reid Neff.
The Hatchets host Pike Central tonight.