Words such as “efficiency” and “hot shooting” fall short of doing justice to Washington’s offensive effort Tuesday night.
The No. 1 Warriors, up against city rival O’Gorman in the regular-season finale, were simply unstoppable. What was a first-half shootout slowed in the second half for the fourth-ranked Knights, while Washington continued its torrid pace and pulled away for an 83-71 victory.
Washington posted four players in double-figure scoring and finished the game an astounding 34 of 46 from the field (74 percent). The state’s top-ranked team is a hard enough draw when they’re not shooting the lights out.
Then again, neither team could miss in the second quarter — trading makes seemingly after each possession. O’Gorman did so with added pressure, reeling from the loss of bigs Ben Lauer and reserve JP Costello. Lauer, already dealing with a broken nose, rolled his ankle in the first quarter and did not return. Costello was out sick. But the Knights got a big lift from 6-foot-5 Jack Peery.
Peery scored 13 of his season-high 23 points in the second, mixing in his attack with drives to the basket, jump shots and a 3-pointer to cut Washington’s lead to 39-36 inside of two minutes before the half.
“I thought Jack really stepped up and made himself visible on both ends of the floor,” said O’Gorman coach Derek Robey. “What I liked about what he did is he got himself going by getting to the boards.”
Of course, Peery wasn’t the only one with a hot hand. For Washington you could take your pick, but early on it was Carter Keller. The senior guard scored 11 of his 19 points in the second quarter, providing the usually two-point conscious Warriors with a diverse attack.
“We know that Ty (Smith) and Carter and Sam (Siganos) are as good of shooters as you can find,” said Washington coach Craig Nelson. “They’re plenty happy with only taking one or two 3s a game, but when it presents itself like tonight and a team goes zone, they were getting the open looks and knocking them down. That’s really good to see.”
Siganos finished with 12 points and an impressive 11 assists, while Ty Smith added nine points and five assists.
O’Gorman’s Ben Lauer shoots past Washington’s Sam Siganos in Tuesday night’s game at O’Gorman, Feb 24, 2015.
Washington led 48-40 at halftime after knocking in 20 of 25 shots from the field. In the third quarter, both teams cooled but a renewed focus on the inside game favored the Warriors with Deng Geu and Cole Benson.
Geu finished with 24 points while Benson added 15, as the Warriors controlled the boards and did a better job contesting shots in the second half. Washington’s offense, meanwhile, continued to score with incredible efficiency.
Opening a 66-53 lead into the fourth quarter, the Warriors would see O’Gorman pull it to within single-digits a few times — but the damage had been done. For every shot the Knights knocked in, Washington had an answer — or two.
“Our guys battled. I thought we were going to be in a shootout. They just couldn’t miss there in the second quarter,” Robey said. “I thought we competed hard. We just got outmuscled at times and defensively we can’t let them score too many points. But that’s Washington being Washington — they’re a very good basketball team.”
Braxton Elliott slashed and shot his way to a game-high 25 points, while teammate Davis Cowan added 11 points.
The Warriors (18-2) finish the season undefeated against South Dakota teams, their only losses coming to Minnesota high schools De LaSalle and Marshall. Washington’s impressive run hasn’t been without close contests, but the Warriors have continually come out on the right end. As district play looms, though, improvement on the defensive end will be the focus.
“It’s about getting in practice and learning how to defend better,” Nelson said. “We’re going to have to defend a lot better than that to defeat three teams as good as O’Gorman or better through the district or the state tournament.”
Similarly, the Knights (14-6) look at the next week as a chance to improve.
“There’s a lot of things we can correct and we will correct them,” Robey said. “We’ve put ourselves in position to be the number one seed in districts. Hopefully, we’ll heal up and get in a situation where we can win a game next week and try and stay alive.”
Sam Siganos 5-7 0-1 12, Carter Keller 7-9 2-3 19, Ty Smith 3-5 2-2 9, Deng Geu 10-12 4-5 24, Cole Benson 7-10 1-1 15, Robert Speeks 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Quinton Johnson 0-0 0-1 0, Jacob Skogstad 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Talley 0-0 0-0 0, Alipo Oluak 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Farniok 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 34-46 9-13 83.
Davis Cowan 5-13 0-0 11, Jack Peery 11-18 0-0 23, Braxton Elliott 8-17 6-7 25, Antonio Casiello 2-4 0-0 4, Ben Lauer 1-2 0-0 2, Luke Fritsch 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Fleck 3-5 0-0 6, Jimmy Burma 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 6-7 71.
Washington 19 29 18 17 – 83
O’Gorman 18 22 13 18 – 71
3-pointers – SFW 6-11 (Keller 3-6, Siganos 2-3, Smith 1-2), OG 5-18 (Elliott 3-8, Peery 1-3, Cowan 1-5). Total fouls – SFW 7, OG 14. Fouled out – None. Rebounds – SFW 29 (Keller, Geu 6), OG 16 (Peery 4). Assists – SFW 23 (Siganos 11, Smith 5), OG 15 (Casiello 6, Elliott 4). Steals – SFW 4, OG 5. Blocks – SFW 1, OG 0. Turnovers – SFW 10, OG 5.