Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — Any type of momentum going into a tournament run is a plus.
So when Washington earned its fifth win of the season on Thursday, you could understand why its entire roster walked out of the locker room with smiles on their faces.
Led by guard Allie Mongold and center Emily Semler, the Blue Lions traveled to Kinnikinnick on Thursday and returned home with a 47-41 non-league win — a victory that indeed helps build confidence heading into the postseason.
Mongold, who assumed point guard responsibilities early this season due to an injury, consistently made things happen on the offensive end. The junior limited turnovers, helped execute the Blue Lions’ game plan and used a dribble-drive to create scoring opportunities.
“Allie’s kind of been forced into our point guard position this year,” Washington coach Samanatha Bihl said. “She’s doing an outstanding job and she gets better and better every game. She’s getting more aggressive offensively as well. That’s making us a better team because she’s more of a scoring threat. She does a great job of getting everybody where they’re supposed to be and we’re getting in our offense when she has the ball up top.”
Meanwhile, Semler enjoyed a career night that included a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Put simply, the Pioneers didn’t have an answer for Semler under the basket.
“She’s a great kid and she works hard. She hasn’t played for the last two years and decided to come back out for her senior season,” Bihl said of Semler. “She’s just a great leader on and off the court. She did a great job tonight. She brings a lot of energy to the team and that trickles down. I think when you watch her play, you can see that. She did a great job finishing around the rim tonight and grabbing rebounds. That’s just huge. She’s an outstanding senior for us.”
Semler gave the Blue Lions the night’s first score with 7:32 left in the first quarter but Lauren Lane answered on the other end with a 3, putting Zane Trace ahead 3-2. Later, Alara Crow put the Pioneers in front at 7-6 but Jeleeya Smith drained a 3 for WCH, making it a 9-7 edge.
From that point on, the Blue Lions never trailed.
Aaralyne Estep dialed long distance before Smith scored again with 19.2 seconds left, giving Washington a 14-8 advantage heading into the second.
Semler made it a 16-8 tally with 7:33 left before scoring at the 4:37 and 2:45 marks, pushing the lead back to eight at 22-14. Lane hit a 3 and sank two free throws to bring the Pioneers back to within five at 24-19 but Mallory Hicks answered with two freebies, making it 26-19 at halftime.
Semler again began a quarter with a score in the third before Smith made it a 34-26 at the 3:18 juncture. Semler scored again with 15.2 seconds left, pushing the lead to double digits at 37-27.
The Pioneers began to fight back in the fourth, using a stingy defense to do so.
Down 41-31, Zane Trace created back-to-back turnovers which allowed Lane and Emily Allen to cut the deficit to 41-35. Later, with 21.8 seconds left, Brooklynn Wade hit a 3 to make it a 45-41 game.
But that last ditch effort simply came too late. Mongold nailed two free throws, producing the night’s final with 18.4 seconds remaining, before the Blue Lions sealed the deal with a turnover.
Following Semler’s final stat line was Smith with 10 points and four assists while Mongold added nine points and four assists to the stat sheet. Hicks also helped out, totaling four points and grabbing seven boards.
The Pioneers were led by Allen’s 13 points and nine rebounds while Lane added 11 points and four boards. Crow chipped in with six points and six rebounds, and Brooklynn Wade had five points.
Both teams will now look towards tournament play. Zane Trace travels to Alexander on Saturday evening for a Division III sectional semifinal while Washington hosts Chillicothe on Monday in a Division II sectional semi.
The Blue Lions have beaten the Cavaliers twice this season by 46-35 and 40-35 counts.
“We just have to go back, watch some film and make sure we execute better,” Bihl said. “We’ve had a lot of games this season where we’ve had great quarters. But I truly feel like we haven’t put together a full game. We haven’t played our best game yet. I’m waiting for that to happen. I think we can do that on Monday.”
Washington: 14-12-13-8 — 47
Zane Trace: 8-11-8-14 — 41
Washington: 17-38 FG, 10-22 FT, 3-7 3pt., 26 rebounds (Semler 11), 22 turnovers, 10 assists (Mongold 4, Smith 4). Scoring: Semler 18, Smith 10, Mongold 9, Hicks 4, Estep 4, Sever 2.
Zane Trace: 14-42 FG, 10-15 FT, 3-11 3pt., 24 rebounds (Allen 9), 21 turnovers, 7 assists (McCullough 2, Lane 2). Scoring: Allen 13, Lane 11, Crow 6, Wade 5, McCullough 3, Fetters 2, May 1.