As the loose ball slowly bounced toward the Washington bench early in the fourth quarter, boys basketball coach Gene Miiller gave simply instructions, 'Get it.' That exactly what his Hatchets did.
Washington rallied from a 19-13 halftime deficit to defeat Pike Central, 45-37, Saturday.
The Chargers (3-9) gained their first half lead with the help of a 12-7 second built with 6-11 shooting from the field while the Hatchets (6-8) managed 6-16.
But that lead was quickly erased in the third quarter as Jarrod Purdue and Andy Garland struck for consecutive 3-pointers and an aggressive Washington defense started to force turnovers from the hosts.
"We didn't get off to a particularly good start," Miiller said. "The second half we came out a lot more aggressively and forced some turnovers. We hit those two three's in the first minute of the second half and that was huge. The pressure defense got us the lead."
Garland, who was forced to sit much of the first half after picking up two first-quarter fouls, hit the Chargers with eight points in a 20-5 quarter Hatchet onslaught that was fueled by 12 equally shared points from Cullen Arnold and Purdue.
"It was a good quarter for us," Miiller said. "Andy got out and some plays for us defensively also. He had a good second half." Pike Central committed eight turnovers in the opening half, and were guilty of seven more in a third quarter that witnessed Washington take a 33-24 edge with the help of Garland's second 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining.
The Hatchets were also supported by a seven rebound performance from Arnold and Cody Milligan. Milligan scored two points on the evening, but kept several Washington performances alive with three offensive rebounds while helping the defensive efforts on the other end.
"Cody came in and gave us some very good minutes," Miiller said. "He did a pretty good job defensively and got on the boards. He had a good game for us." The lead reached 35-24 early in the fourth as Garland hit a two-pointer 22 seconds into the quarter. The lead was 40-31 with 3:30 left before Washington gave Pike a late chance to close the gap. Purdue made two free throws for a 42-33 advantage with 65 seconds left. But the Hatchets missed two front ends of bonus opportunities with time dwindling away.
The Chargers were forced to foul five time from the 2:30 mark of the fourth until Washington hit the bonus with 46 seconds remaining.
"We missed some free throws that would have helped keep Pike Central at bay," Miiller said. "Last night (at home against Princeton) we were 10-11 and down the stretch we missed some front ends of one-and-ones." Chris Downey, who led the Chargers with 16 points, made two free throws and a basket to narrow the gap to 42-37 with 39 seconds left before Arnold broke away from the Chargers¹ press for a layin with 20 seconds to put the game away.
Washington was three for nine from line, one of the few problems for a Hatchet team that has now won three straight after starting 3-8.
The Hatchets also limited turnovers to eight, a pleasing stat for their coach.
"We did a good job of taking care of the basketball," Miiller said after watching Pike use a variety of trapping defenses. "We just need to make sure we advance the ball and get good shots." The Chargers trailed most of the first quarter before Tyler Garland hit a 3-pointer for a 7-6 lead with four seconds remaining.
Downey then scored seven points in the second quarter and Trevor Claridge added five for the 19-13 halftime lead.
Pike Central was very patient in the opening 16 minutes while running sets for long possessions, But that trend ended in the second half as the Hatchet defense started causing turnovers.
"We tried to speed the game up a little bit and take them out of some of things that had been doing," Miiller said. "We got some turnovers and they (Pike Central) couldn't run their normal stuff." Garland was the leading Washington scorer with 13 points with Arnold adding 12. Purdue and Coleton Garland each added eight.
Keegan Aldridge and Claridge each scored eight in support of Downey.
The win continued the victory steak with past wins coming against Gibson Southern (57-53) the previous Saturday and Princeton (57-45) at the Hatchet House Friday.
The second half comeback was also key to keep momentum as Washington plays at Big 8 Conference rival Boonville Friday.
WASHINGTON 6 7 20 12 - 45
PIKE CENTRAL 7 12 5 13 - 37
WASHINGTON (45) -Jarrod Purdue 2 2-2 1 8, Coleton Garland 3 1-2 1 8, Andy Garland 5 0-3 2 13, Tyler Stoll 1 0-0 2 2, Cody Milligan 1 0-0 1 2, Cullen Arnold 6 0-1 2 12. Totals 18 3-8 10 45.
Pike Cnetral (37) - Shaine Eck 0 0-0 0 0, Tyler Toopes 1 0-0 2 2, Keegan Aldridge 4 0-0 2 8, Chris Downey 6 4-4 3 16, Tyler Garland 1 0-0 1 3, Dustin Meny 0 0-0 3 0, Trevor Claridge 2 2-2 2 8, Garrett Elliott 0 0-0 0 0. Totals
14 6-6 13 37.
3-point goals: Washington 6 (A. Garland 3, Purdue 2, C. Garland), Pike Cnetral 2 (Claridge).
Junior varsity: Washington 47 (Carson Smith 18), Pike Central 36 (Dakota Walker and Nick Kluemper 10).