LOOGOOTEE, Ind. — The New Washington boys basketball team relied on a couple of seniors — Zach Moore and Stevie Mack — to slip past West Washington in the fourth quarter and earn a 40-36 win Saturday in the semifinals of the Class A Loogootee regional.
The Mustangs (19-9) advance to take on fifth-ranked Wood Memorial (22-5) in the finals at 7:30 p.m. tonight. New Washington will try to win its second regional and first since 2001. Wood Memorial, meanwhile, advanced with a 63-43 win over Loogootee. Wood Memorial will be shooting for its first regional title.
After the game, New Washington coach Jonathan May, who graduated from the school in 2000, came out of the locker room with a pep in his step.
“As a player, it’s something I ever thought about,” he said of winning the regional. “The sectional was it. … These kids have a lot of grit, and they have a lot of determination.”
Moore and Mack combined for 13 of New Washington’s 15 points in the fourth quarter as they edged the defending regional champions.
Moore, playing his 100th varsity game for New Washington, led the way with 16 points, including a couple of 3-pointers.
“He’s our guy,” May said. “Our kids came through.”
Mack added 11 points, including seven in the final period, and 12 rebounds.
“I think at the beginning of the games, teams key on him,” May said of the 6-foot-8 Mack. “As the game progresses, game slippage occurs.“
New Washington, which let a nine-point lead disappear in the the first five minutes of the third quarter, rallied and led just 36-34 with 23 seconds left as the 6-foot-3 Moore stepped to the free-throw line.
Moore missed the front-end bonus free throw but followed the ball, corralled his own rebound and got fouled on a shot attempt. He went back to the line and hit both free throws with 22 seconds left, giving the Mustangs a 38-34 cushion.
“I don’t know what happened there,” West Washington coach Sean Smith said. “We just absolutely did not block out.”
The Senators tried to respond quickly.
West Washington’s Hunter Sanford, who led the Senators with 16 points and nine rebounds, raced down the floor and converted a dunk with 15 seconds remaining.
Then New Washington’s Brandon Horton sealed the win with a couple of free throws with 13 seconds left.
“We had to fight back,” said Smith, whose team had to battle back from a nine-point deficit early in the third quarter. “These kids are resilient. They have a lot of pride. They didn’t fold. We just couldn’t get over the hump today.”
Smith, the former head coach at Charlestown, missed New Washington the best of luck.
“I know they’ve waited a long time for this,” he said. “I hope they can make some noise tonight (in the regional final).”
Wood Memorial 63, Loogootee 43: The Trojans (22-5) got 20 points from sophomore Paxon Bartley, a 6-3 forward, and cruised past host Loogootee (21-8).
Lathan Falls added 15 points for Wood Memorial.
Bailey Dearwester and Tye Collins led the Lions with 11 points apiece.
CLASS A LOOGOOTEE REGIONAL
NEW WASHINGTON 40, WEST WASHINGTON 36
WEST WASHINGTON (20-7)
Michael Sizemore 5p; Noah Green 9p; Hunter Sanford 16p, 9r; Jackson Byrne 6p.
NEW WASHINGTON (19-9)
Caleb Ellison 6p; Brandon Horton 4p; Hunter Lind 3p; Zach Moore 16p; Steve Mack 11p, 12r.
WOOD MEMORIAL 63, LOOGOOTEE 43
Bailey Dearwester 11p; Jayden Wagoner 3p; Wyatt Nonte 2p; Tye Collins 11p; Griffin Spring 5p; Landon Bell 8p; Landon Harder 3p.
WOOD MEMORIAL (22-5)
Tyler Fleisher 11p; Lathan Falls 15p; Dalton Coburn 5p; Paxon Bartley 20p; Walker Nurrenbern 10p Austin Ireland 2p.