Two starters end up with four fouls halfway through the third quarter. Too many turnovers to count happen in the second quarter. A nine-point lead turns into a two-point deficit.
All obstacles that are overcome when a team plays like a team.
The Washington Demons did that Monday to notch a 56-45 victory over Centerville’s girls basketball team.
“It’s a team game,” Washington High School head coach Shannon Rugg said. “We didn’t panic. We stuck together. I thought we really played as a team and we are able to do that because the girls are buying into that concept. If you are playing for your teammates, you’re going to play good.”
Of course it helps any team when there is an individual playing well, well enough to score a career high.
Halle Leyden did that for the Demons, dropping in 3-pointers, stealing the ball and helping with the point-guard duties when Kinsey Duwa was in foul trouble.
Leyden canned five shots from behind the 3-point arc on her way to 18 points. She also led the Demons with seven steals and had five of the Demons’ 15 assists. She was five for eight from behind the arc, three in the second half, two in the first and they came at crucial times.
“This is the first game I actually felt like a scorer and that helped my confidence,” Leyden said. “I knew we needed to score, so I just tried my best to help my team.”
The Demons were trailing 8-6 in the first quarter when Leyden got a steal and a layup, then buried a triple.
Centerville’s 6-foot Caitlyn Krull, who finished with 16 points, scored, but Leyden answered with another triple and the Demons led 14-13 after the first quarter.
“If I miss the first one, I just don’t want to shoot again,” Leyden said.
“I told her if she isn’t going to shoot, she isn’t going to play,” Rugg said.
Kira Ropp scored the first five points of the second quarter and Duwa converted a conventional 3-point play to stake the Demons to a 22-13 lead with 5 minutes, 46 seconds until halftime.
They wouldn’t score again until Olivia Pacha netted a field goal in the lane with 40 seconds remaining in the half to tie the game at 24.
Turnovers took over the Demons offense after Duwa picked up her third foul.
“I told the girls those turnovers are just going to make things harder on themselves,” Rugg said. “They create more problems. We do need to clean that up, but I think we played good defense after the turnovers.”
The Demons trailed 29-28 when Kira Ropp picked up her fourth foul with 4:09 to go in the third quarter.
Leyden hit a triple for a 31-29 lead, but Duwa was whistled for her fourth foul with 3:19 to go in the third quarter.
A Krull basket tied the game, but the Demons went on a 9-2 run with three points from Pacha, two from Haylee Wilson, a free throw and a trey from Leyden, whose help at the point guard reduced the turnover problems.
“We went in at halftime and Coach said one thing we had to do was work on our turnovers, so I just wanted to help out,” Leyden said.
A 40-35 Demon lead to start the fourth quarter quickly disappeared when Centerville’s Claire Matthews hit a bucket, then got a steal and was fouled. She converted both to make it 40-39. Addison Six scored in the lane for Washington and made 1 of 2 foul shots before Kellie Dallmeyer connected on a 3-pointer.
Krull’s basket made the score 46-41, but Leyden stepped up with a triple, then made a steal and an assist on a Wilson basket for the biggest Demon lead of the game to that point at 51-41.
“Those shots we got from Leyden were huge,” Rugg said, “She shot it like that in practice. She helped out at point guard. She kind of did take over a little bit and took control. She made some big plays for us late in the game. She got some steals at crucial times. One time after we got a turnover, everybody was in a panic mode, but the ball came to her and she said, ‘Set it up.’”
Wilson‘s defense was important throughout and also helped pad the lead late in the game. She had five of the team’s 12 steals.
“I thought Haylee did a lot of good things for us, especially on the top of the press,” Rugg said. “She is athletic and contributes in so many ways that don’t necessarily show up in the stats.”
She finished with six points.
Six led the Demons in rebounds with nine and Ropp grabbed eight. Ropp and Pacha each scored nine points. Dallmeyer finished with six points.
“Getting rebounds, it’s going to be big for us and it’s something we talk about all the time,” Rugg said.
Centerville’s record drops to 3-2.
The Demons are 3-1 and play at Fairfield Friday. Washington didn’t win its third game last year until the eighth game of the season. Fairfield is 3-1 after a 58-41 loss to Waterloo West Monday. The Trojans have a 51-47 win over Southeast Conference foe Mt. Pleasant.
“We’re looking forward to playing Fairfield because that’s the team that supposed to win our conference,” Rugg said.