MCDONALD – Josh Wise refused to treat the Washington High School boys basketball team’s game Monday at South Fayette like what it was: a non-section game.
Instead, Wise knew the game’s outcome would impact seeding for the postseason, to say nothing of the natural rivalry that’s developed between these two teams because of football, Brownson House leagues and sharing a section.
“We still think of it as a section game because whenever you play South Fayette, it’s going to be a tough, physical, fast basketball game, and that’s what it was,” Wise said. “I think we came out of the gate, threw that first punch, and I don’t think they could recover from it.”
Wise helped the Prexies throw the first punch, the second, the third and countless others, scoring a game-high 30 points during a 67-43 win over South Fayette in what was perhaps Wash High’s finest performance of the season.
“I give them a lot of credit,” South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said. “I think they played the best I’ve seen them play all year. They did a great job.”
The win helps Wash High (13-5) bounce back from last week’s three-game losing streak. Wash High has now won back-to-back games after beating Chartiers-Houston, 72-57, last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, South Fayette (10-6) lost for the fourth time in its past five games and its momentum from Saturday’s 79-65 win over Keystone Oaks is halted.
Besides Wise, who made 10 field goals, dunked twice and went nine of 10 from the free throw line, Dupree Jenkins scored 14 points, and Jaylin Kelly added 10.
Wash High held South Fayette’s leading scorer, point guard Evan Bonnaure, to zero points, though Bonnaure picked up his third foul late in the second quarter.
Lucas Russell had 13 points to lead the Lions, and Justin Watson added 12.
“Defensively we were great,” Wash High coach Mark Gaither said. “I loved our team defense. Everybody contributed. Just a total team effort.”
Wash High jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the opening four minutes, forcing South Fayette to call a timeout after a steal and a Wise jumper from the right wing.
The Prexies were ahead, 22-14, after the first quarter – despite three three-pointers from Russell in the period – before the Lions opened the second with a 7-0 run that was capped by Watson’s rebound and putback at 4:19.
“In the first quarter, when everybody was hitting shots, I just felt like we had this game,” Jenkins said.
South Fayette kept it a one-possession game until Wash High closed the period on a 9-1 run to take a 33-24 lead at the break.
Wise opened the third with a two-handed slam and later knocked down a three-pointer to give Wash High a 48-28 lead with 2:48 left in the period, effectively turning this one into a rout.
“We knew coming into this game that it was a big seeding game,” said Wise, who also finished with 11 rebounds. “If you look at all the second-place teams, they look and see who you beat.
“I had yet to beat South Fayette during my career. So to come here and win convincingly at their place is huge. We dug deep. We talked about it and said this is something we needed. We wanted to win.”