HERMINIE – Tajah Gordon knows how things can change in a second for the Washington High School girls basketball team.
“It’s a normal thing for us,” Gordon said. “We stop talking, then we get right back on it.”
After a lackluster second quarter, one that almost cost the Prexies during Friday’s WPIAL Class AA preliminary round game at Yough High School, Wash High exploded in the third quarter and did enough down the stretch for a 36-32 win.
The roller-coaster ride went something like this: allow a 7-0 run in the second quarter, close the third with an 11-0 spurt, then let a 10-point lead dwindle down to two with 90 seconds to go.
Oh, remember to breathe in there a few times, too.
“There’s no way to know,” Prexies coach Mike Maltony said, shaking his head. “Sometimes we come on the floor, and we look like we’re going to beat a giant. Other times, it looks like we’re afraid to be out there.”
Mya Gordon led the Prexies (13-10) with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Tajah Gordon contributed 12 points, and Taylor Ellis added five, including a key three-pointer late in the third that Tajah Gordon made possible with an offensive rebound.
Allyson Cujas scored 13 points for Ford City (14-9), which made just four of 13 from the free-throw line. Christina Davis finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
“I think the foul-shooting hurt us,” said Ford City coach Al Davis.
So, too, did the Prexies’ press in the third quarter, as well as jumping between 1-3-1 and man-to-man defenses.
The Gordon sisters were able to control things down low, while Ellis, India March and Aliyah Moye forced the Sabers’ guards into repeated turnovers.
“We’ve struggled a good bit with the press all year,” Davis said. “We’ve been trying to get them to relax, get in their triple-threat and look before they throw it. It’s a growing process.”
Wash High, which will play top-seeded Seton-La Salle in the first round next Tuesday, site and time to be determined, took a 6-5 lead after the first quarter.
The Prexies were ahead, 10-7, following a layup from Mya Gordon at 5:40, then quickly disappeared. Cujas scored on a post move and a hook shot, Davis on a layup. At halftime, Ford City led, 16-11.
“We lost our heads in the second quarter,” Tajah Gordon said. “We could have been up the whole game. We just gave out.”
Fortunately for the Prexies, they regained their composure in the third. After a Davis free throw that gave Ford City a 21-16 lead at 4:28, Mya Gordon got her own rebound and scored, the Gordon sisters made two free throws apiece, Ellis made her three and Mikala Maltony a long jumper.
The lead grew to 10 following a Mya Gordon three, but Wash High disappeared yet again, giving eight straight points. Ford City cut it to two again following a Cujas layup at 1:31, though Tajah Gordon answered with a layup and Ellis made a key free throw with 8 seconds to go to seal it.
“I can’t put a finger on it,” Mike Maltony said. “If you came over and saw us play against McGuffey (nearly upsetting the Section 5-AA champions), it’s one team. Then we play other teams, and it’s a whole different team. If anybody’s got an idea, let me know. Because I sure don’t.”