Prep basketball fans put their Friday night on pause at Washington High as the Wildcats hosted the Pensacola High Tigers for the city’s most intense rivalry this season — the Lady Wildcats vs. the Lady Tigers.
For 32 minutes, the teams exchanged scrappy defense, accented by bodies hitting the floor frequently for loose balls as the referees continuously blew their whistles for good fouls.
Washington came out with a thrilling 39-38 win, though PHS carried a four-point (17-13) lead into halftime — mirroring the halftime margin in the first meeting between the teams.
Pensacola High’s Autumn Goram repeatedly made her way into the paint, hitting a variety of floaters and runners to keep the Tigers on the attack.
Then the Wildcats electrified their home crowd in the third, outscoring the Tigers 12-6 in that quarter.
“It’s a rivalry game … both teams know what is expected,” Washington coach Jade Brown said. “No matter what either team’s record is, a rivalry game will always be competitive. It was a war (Friday night). We won some battles, (PHS) won some battles, but we were able to win the war. Both groups were playing really hard. You like to see the girls going out there and leaving it all on the floor.”
The Wildcats saw consistent scoring from Jayla Roberts and Gabby Lawrence, who combined for 23 points.
But the fourth quarter had fans out of their seats for a thriller, especially when PHS’ Marada Walker drained a three-pointer — cutting Washington’s lead to 39-38 — with two seconds to play.
The Tigers were unable to steal the inbound and Washington killed the clock for a one-point win.
The Wildcats claimed sole position of second place in District 1-6A with the win.
For Brown, in her fourth year with Washington, the win marked her first regular-season sweep against Pensacola High during her tenure.
“We’ve gotta finish the season out,” Brown said. “We’ve got Pace coming up who has been playing well. We’ve got West Florida (Saturday night) and they are tough.”
In the boys game, the Penscola High Tigers issued another statement win to back up their perfect District 1-6A record.
The Tigers raced out to an 8-0 lead, scored 43 points in the second half and put on an offensive clinic as 10 Tigers scored in the win.
Davonchae Bryant finished with a game-high 14 points and Devon Gadsen posted a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) to lead the way for PHS.
PHS…5 12 6 15—38
WHS…7 6 12 14—39
PHS – Goram 10, Walker 7, Samuel 5, Dumas 3, T. Walker 1, V. Samuel 1, Reasor 7, Hollins 4.
WHS (12-5, 9-2) – Kaloni Pryear 4, Lauren Walker 6, Gabby Lawrence 10, Sophia Madison 2, Dazhnique Gould 4, Jayla Roberts 13.
Next: West Florida travel 6 p.m.
Pensacola 73, Washington 46
PHS…15 15 23 20–73
Washington…6 14 8 18—46
PHS – Cowart 3, Jones 3, Gadson 9, Johnson 5, Grimsley 13, Reeves 9, Basse 2, Johnson 2, Bryant 14.
Washington (12-6) – Rudolph 8, Milton 6, Champagne 1, Kelly 7, Golson 10, Rich 6, Salter 2, McGee 6.
Next – Washington travels to West Florida on Saturday.