BLOOMFIELD — Last weekend, Southridge and North Daviess found out the Washington Hatchets are pretty tough to beat when they play two really good quarters of basketball.
Friday at Eastern Greene, the host Thunderbirds found out that coach Gene Miiller’s squad is seriously tough to beat when the Hatchets play four good quarters.
Washington (4-1) dominated from start to finish as the Hatchets won their fourth straight game with a 72-43 win over Eastern Greene (1-2) Washington played a nearly flawless first half, shooting 64 percent (16-25) from the field while committing just three turnovers and out rebounding Eastern 15-8. The Thunderbirds were just 26 percent (5-19) from the field field and committed eight turnovers. Washington led 18-6 after one quarter and extended that lead to 19 points at 33-14 by halftime.
“I thought we came out defensively and kept good defensive pressure on them throughout the first half. Offensively we moved the basketball, we pushed the ball, we moved the ball up the floor,” said Miiller. “I thought we played well in the first half.”
Grant Niehaus scored 10 of his game high 26 points in the first half, while Kyle Mann netted eight his 14 points in the first half.
Coming out to start the second half, Miiller was looking for better play in the third quarter than last weekend, and he got it. The Hatchets outscored Eastern Greene 20-11 to take a commanding 53-25 lead into the final eight minutes of action.
“Our goal was in the third quarter was to extend the lead. In the last few ballgames we’ve had big leads and we’ve let them back in the ballgame,” said Miiiller. “So that was what we were trying to do in that third quarter, and we did extend the lead.”
For the game, Washington shot 68 percent (30-44) from the field, committed just five turnovers, and limited the Thunderbirds to 43 percent (17-40) shooting. Kiowa Jones added 14 points for the Hatchets and helped trigger the Hatchet defense which forced 13 turnovers. Lance Roach added five points, followed by four points each from Logan Riester and Zach Gray.
Owen Gray added a basket and Austin Gere hit a free throw to round out the Hatchet scoring.
Bryan Rippy topped Eastern with 14 points, followed by 11 from Sam Rees. Despite losing four of its top six players from a year ago and not having returning starter Trey Reed for the last four games due to a knee injury, Miiller’s squad is off to a fast start. But that’s no surprise to the Hatchet coach.
“I like the start, I like the way we are playing together and they way the kids are competing together. I’m not really surprised; we’ve got two really good guards in Kyle Mann and Grant Niehaus. I think when you’ve got two really good guards you can be a pretty good basketball team,” said Miiller. “They’re all playing together well. Kiowa’s playing well, Lance is giving some important stuff down inside, and Zach Gray is playing well. And we’re getting good play off the bench.”
In the JV contest coach Rocky Alderman’s reserve Hatchets remained perfect on the season at 5-0 with a 44-22 win. Brycen Neidigh led the way with 14 points, followed by 11 from Logan Riester. Owen Gray was next with seven points, followed by six from Alex Boyd and two points apiece from Aston Ostby, Nicholas Sandullo, and Joah Horrall.
The Hatchets return to action on Friday when Evansville Bosse visits the Hatchet House.