The Wash High boys basketball team didn’t get off to a great start and nearly threw away a Section 4-AA win away late in the game Friday night.
But sophomore Nate Swart refused to let the Prexies lose.
Coming off the bench on Senior Night, Swart scored all of his game-high 15 points in the second half as the Prexies came away with a hard fought 54-50 section win over Brentwood. Eleven of those points came in the fourth quarter as Swart provided the shot of energy the Prexies needed, aggressively taking the ball to the basket and making some clutch late free throws.
“The second half was a total team effort,” said Swart. “We lost our composure some in the first half and our coaches stressed at halftime that we stay composed. We played solid defensively in the second half, and in the fourth quarter I knew I had to get the ball to the basket and just keep making my foul shots. It was a good win. Brentwood is a tough and physical team.”
Tempers flared early and often as two Wash High (7-1, 13-4) players got hit with technical fouls and Prexies head coach Mark Gaither had a couple run-ins with the officials as the game nearly got out of hand early.
In a game that more resembled a football game from a physical standpoint, Wash High got off to a sloppy start as the Spartans controlled the tempo in the first half.
It didn’t help that the Prexies had to play most of the first half without one of their leading scorers.
After an 8-0 run to take an early first quarter lead, Wash High forward Quorteze Levy was whistled for a technical foul, giving him three personal fouls just midway through the first quarter and Gaither had him sit out the rest of the half.
Brentwood (3-6, 8-8) responded with an 11-4 run to take a second-quarter lead before Dupree Jenkins gave the Prexies a shot of life, draining a pair of three-point shots to put the Prexies in front.
However, the momentum changed when Wash High’s DeQuay Isbell was whistled for a technical foul. The Spartans were able to stay in the game from the free-throw line, making 9-of-11 first-half attempts, and went to the locker room tied at 20 at the half.
“They are a much more athletic team than we are,” said Brentwood head coach Dave Mislan. “Our plan was to slow them down and try and play the game at our pace. Tied at 20 at the half was exactly what we were looking for. We had some problems in the second half, and they had some guys step up and make some big plays.”
Brentwood came out of the locker room hot, outscoring the Prexies 11-6 to start the third quarter, with most of their points coming on the inside as Spartans big man Troy Eliphinstone started to assert himself, but Wash High responded with an 11-0 run to take a 37-31 lead.
Point guard Jonathan Spina supplied the spark the Prexies were missing, giving Wash High the lead for good, converting a tough layup and ensuing free throw midway through the third quarter.
The game stayed close throughout the fourth quarter, but that’s when Swart took over.
Brentwood pulled within one on two occasions, but each time Swart made contested layups, each time getting fouled and completing three-point play.
Swart led all scorers. Spina chipped in nine points as the Prexies got some solid production from their bench.
Eliphinstone led Brentwood with 14 points, all in the second half.
“I’m very proud of the way that we kept our composure,” said Gaither. “Things kind of got away from us in the first half, but we responded well in the second half and made some big plays down the stretch. We have some things to clean up to go into the playoffs playing well, but this was a big section win.”