Washington-Marion coach Albert Hartwell still held hard feelings about the way the season ended last year.
“I have bad memories thinking about the past,” Hartwell jokingly. “It’s still fresh on my mind and my players. We don’t want to dwell, but we definitely don’t want to forget.”
Last season, McDonogh 35 (21-10) upset Washington-Marion on their home court to advance to the Class 4A semifinals. Washington-Marion (21-8) wanted nothing more than to return the favor to the host team this year. The visitors from Lake Charles did just that and came away with a 59-50 win.
With the game on the line, Da’Vantre Vitor buried four consecutive free throws to balloon the Charging Indians’ lead to nine in the final seconds.
Vitor scored 15 points and recorded five steals. Teammate Cody Stansberry finished with 14 points, but his 3-pointer with a minute remaining gave Washington-Marion a one-point lead it would not relinquish.
Holding De’Jon Jarreau and the Roneagles scoreless in the closing moments was the key. The Roneagles went ice-cold in the fourth quarter, allowing the Charging Indians to mount an enormous comeback.
Jarreau, a Massachusetts commitment, led all scorers with 20 points. However, his inability to generate any offense in the final quarter sealed the fate of the Roneagles. Backcourt mate Joseph Foucha added 17 points.
“We just didn’t execute in the end,” Roneagles coach Kevin Sanders said. “We gave up a lot of second-chance points and turned the ball over. It came back to bite us and we let it slip away.”
The Charging Indians came out of halftime hitting on all cylinders. Despite an 11-point halftime deficit, they opened on 10-2 run. An alley-oop dunk by Christian Edwards ignited the run. They held the Roneagles to only seven points in the third quarter, while taking a 39-38 lead.
The Roneagles stormed into halftime ahead 31-20 thanks to an 8-0 run to end the first half. Foucha led the way with 12 points and two steals.
After starting slow in the first quarter defensively, the Roneagles turned up the pressure. They forced five turnovers in the second quarter to build the 11-point cushion. Both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first quarter.
L’Marcus Walker had the hot hand early for the Indians with eight points. He finished with 12. Washington-Marion moves on to face Karr in the semifinals.