Wash High girls hang on to beat Charleroi

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It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Washington High School girls basketball coach Mike Maltony won’t be complaining.

Maltony, like any coach, would rather win ugly than lose.

That was the case Monday night as the Prexies struggled through most of the game but somehow found a way to squeak out a 41-39 victory over previously undefeated Charleroi in a Section 5-AA game in the WHS gym.

The Prexies erased a six-point deficit, 25-19, through three quarters by outscoring Charleroi 22-14 over the final eight minutes.

“We will take it,” said Maltony. “We made a lot of mistakes, but we stuck with it and got a big section win.”

Wash High had an early 9-2 lead, but turnovers and poor shot selection haunted the Prexies most of the first half as Charleroi (1-1, 4-1) outscored Wash High (2-0, 4-1) 18-5 in the final 12 minutes to take a 20-14 lead at the break.

“We made bad turnovers and our shot selection killed us,” added Maltony. “It seemed like all we did was make one pass and shoot long jumpers all night. It was tough without Mya on the inside, but we have to do a better job of moving and getting better shots.”

The Cougars also struggled from the floor. Neither team was able to do much in their half court sets or shoot a high percentage from the floor.

Most of Charleroi’s points in the first half came in transition or at the free-throw line.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Charleroi head coach Joe Grodz. “Give Wash High a ton of credit defensively. We came in shooting over 55 percent from the floor and we aren’t going to win shooting 29 percent. The same goes at the foul line. We come in shooting 75 percent and make only half tonight. I think both teams did what they wanted to defensively. We slowed them up and made them take tough shots. We just couldn’t get enough to drop at the other end. We had chances.”

Both teams scored only five points in the third quarter. Mikala Maltony made a big layup on one of Wash High’s rare transition opportunities to tie the game 30-30 with just over three minutes left.

Following a pair of missed free-throws by Charleroi’s Jennifer Tilghman, Alexis Ashley gave the Prexies a 33-30 lead by knocking down a big three-pointer.

It stayed a one possession game the rest of the way, but the Prexies never trailed again, thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting by Maltony and Nicole Hoffman down the stretch.

“You could feel that when we tied the game we started to feel it as a team,” said Maltony. “The bench picked up, and we y had some energy. Then Alexis hits the big three, and we just executed down the stretch.”

Ashley led the Prexies in scoring with 13, while India March and Maltony chipped in with nine and eight points, respectively.

What bailed the Prexies out was strong defensive pressure on Charleroi’s top scorer Mia Woytovich.

Woytovich led all scorers with 16 points, but nothing came easy against Washington’s box-and-one defense for most of the game. When Charleroi wasn’t getting easy baskets in transition, the Cougars found it difficult to score in the half court.

“I thought we did a great job on Mia,” added Maltony. “She is talented enough to take the game over and she really didn’t have much of an impact. We went box-and-one on her until late, when we just played her straight up. Overall, I felt we did a good job defending everyone.”

In addition to Woytovich, Charleroi’s Rachel Ritzer hit double figures with 10 points.

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