In last year’s sectional, host Washington outlasted rival Lincoln in overtime, and on Tuesday that Hatchets decided to deliver an encore performance in the Alices' gym.
Lincoln rallied to erase a seven-point deficit in the final 1:30 of regulation, but Washington controlled the overtime and connected on its final 10 free throws to hold off Lincoln, 72-66, in an overtime opener in the Class 3A Lincoln Sectional at Alice Arena.
Ethan Bushey led the Alices (10-13) with a career-high 30 points, while Noah Bushey was next with 12, and Julius Hardiman nine. Torrence Gillis was limited to seven points, but he dished eight assists.
Grant Niehaus paced Washington (18-5) with 28 points, including eight in the extra frame. Trey Reed was the difference for the Hatchets, however. The 6-5 junior was out with an injury in Lincoln’s 65-61 regular-season win over Washington, but on Tuesday he finished with 20 points, including 18 after halftime.
The Hatchets barely missed after intermission. They were 17-of-20, and used the hot second-half to build a 56-49 lead with 1:42 to go. Gillis and both Bushey brothers connected on 3s down the stretch, and both Busheys also took key charges in the stretch to get it to overtime, tied at 58.
It was tied in overtime at 60 and 62 before Niehaus put Washington ahead for good with 1:24 to go. After Ethan Bushey missed a 3-pointer at the other end, the Alices put the Hatchets away at the free-throw line the rest of the way, and they were true on all of them to finish off Lincoln.
“I don’t know what to say. I love these kids, and that’s the reason I kept this group,” Lincoln coach Jordan Myers said. “I knew they were going to play the way I wanted them to play and to represent this school the way I wanted. I can’t say enough. I just hurt for them right now. This is devastating.
“They made it difficult on us, and we made it difficult on them. It sounds cliche, but both these teams deserve to move on. I’m so proud the way we kept battling, kept fighting. We put ourselves in a position to win, and everybody we put in there made plays for us.”
The first quarter had three ties and four lead changes, with neither team going up by more than three. Niehaus made his first three shots, scoring seven in the period, and a Kiowa Jones 3-pointer with 35 seconds left made it a tie game after one, 14-14.
Washington scored first in the second period, but the Alices countered with the next six points to go up, 20-16. It was a 20-18 Lincoln advantage when the Alices held the Hatchets without a field goal over the final 4:30 of the half. The lead was as big as 28-21, and Lincoln held it nearly a minute for the final shot before turning it over with nine seconds to go. Hardiman came up with a big steal, his third of the half, just before the horn to preserve the seven-point halftime lead for the Alices.
Niehaus missed all four of his attempts in the second period, while Lincoln didn’t miss a two-point field goal, going 9-for-9 in the first half. The Alices were 6-of-8 in the second quarter while Washington was 2-for-8. Lincoln also took advantage of Reed sitting most of the first half with two fouls.
Lincoln opened the second half with a Payton Curry 3-pointer to go up 10, but the Hatchets scored the next 10 to pull even at 31. Lincoln’s biggest lead after that was five, and it settled for a 44-43 edge after three.
It was the final game for Alices’ lone senior Gillis.
“We had our ups and downs this year, but I’d do anything for that kid,” Myers said. “He had one of his best floor games tonight. He didn’t score as much, but he did a great job getting into the paint and making the right decision. We’re going to miss him next year.”
The Hatchets advance to take on Pike Central (1-20) in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday. The first semifinal pits Princeton (9-13) against No. 10 Sullivan (21-3) at 6:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON 72, LINCOLN 66, OT
Reed (f) 8-11 4-7 20, Riester (f) 1-2 5-6 7, Mann (g) 4-6 0-0 8, Jones (g) 3-5 2-5 9, Niehaus (g) 9-13 8-8 28, Roach 0-0 0-0 0, Gray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-37 19-26 72.
E. Bushey (f) 12-18 4-7 30, Hardiman (f) 4-7 0-1 9, Curry (g) 2-6 0-0 5, Smith (g) 1-2 0-0 3, Gillis (g) 3-9 0-0 7, N. Bushey 4-6 2-2 12, Corrona 0-0 0-0 0, Pfoff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-48 6-10 66.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Washington |14-7-22-15-14 —72
Lincoln |14-14-16-14-8 — 66
3-pointers: Washington 3-6 (Niehaus 2-3, Jones 1-2, Riester 0-1), Lincoln 8-24 (N. Bushey 2-4, E. Bushey 2-6, Hardiamn 1-3, Curry 1-4, Smith 1-2, Gillis 1-5). Rebounds: Washington 17 (Reed 4), Lincoln 17 (Hardiman 7). Turnovers: Washington 12, Lincoln 13. Fouls: Washington 14, Lincoln 26. Fouled out: Jones, Gillis.