By Mike Myers
Vincennes Lincoln overcame a second half comeback effort by Washington to advance to the championship game of Sectional 31 with a 42-38 win on Friday at the Hatchet House.
Vincennes (17-6) led by four points at halftime over Washington (9-12) in the latest renewal of the state’s oldest rivalry. But the Hatchets, who struggled for much of the night on offense, twice took the lead in the third quarter, first at 20-19 on a 3-point play by Cullen Arnold, who led all scorers with 14 points, midway through the period.
Vincennes answered in the form of a bucket by Cole Claycomb, but the Hatchets came right back with a 3-pointer by Andy Garland for a 23-21 lead. Vincennes, however, ran off seven of the next nine points to end the quarter with a 28-23 lead.
Washington’s brief scoring spurt in the third quarter was short lived. Washington, which suffered through a 10:32 second drought in the first half on a night when the Hatchets shot just 35 percent from the field, went nearly 6:00 without a field after Garland’s trey and fell behind by seven points midway through the final quarter.
The Hatchets didn’t quit, cutting the Alices’ lead to two points twice in the last minute of action, but in the end Washington’s shooting woes spelled defeat at the hands of Vincennes.
“We just didn’t put the ball in the basket,” said Washington coach Gene Miiller. “We handled the basketball well (five turnovers) and they had 15 turnovers, but they shot 75 percent and we shot 35 percent.
“That was the difference. I thought we played well, we just didn’t put the ball in the basket,” said Miiller. “As I told the kids, ’You can do a lot of things well in this game, but if the ball doesn’t go through the basket, it’s hard to win.”
The offensive troubles which have plagued the Hatchets for much of the season were much in evidence in the first half. After Andy Garland’s 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the first quarter gave WHS a quick 3-0, the Hatchets went 10:32 without scoring a single point.
In that span, the Alices, who missed just three shots and out rebounded WHS 12-4 in the first half, built a 12-4 lead, a margin which reached as many as 10 points in the second quarter. Washington, which shot just 18 percent in the first half, was able to stay in the game thanks to nine first half turnovers by Vincennes. A late 6-0 run, which featured a pair of buckets by Arnold and two free tosses by Colton Garland, closed the Vincennes lead to 14-10 at halftime.
Colton Garland finished with 13 points, followed by eight from Andy Garland and three from Cody Milligan. It was the last game on the Hatchet House floor for seniors Arnold and Milligan.
“Cody got off to a slow start this year but finished strong. He played good basketball for us the last month of the season,” said Miiller. “Cullen Arnold is the last starter from our 2011 state championship team and was a part of two state championship teams. He’s had a great career for us, he’s been a great leader for us and he’s a great young man as well.”
Brand Nowaskie and Josh Sprinkle led Vincennes with 13 points apiece.
In Friday’s first game, Mark Geisler’s 19 points propelled Jasper (13-9) into tonight’s 7 p.m. championship game with a 62-42 win over Mitchell (6-15). Jasper scored the final 14 points of the first half to take a 27-16 lead into the locker room and never looked back.