Pam Pack rallies to beat Northern Nash for first win

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, December 1, 2016

Washington may not be over the hump yet as far as its ball-security problems go, but there are certainly signs of improvement. The Pam Pack cut down on turnovers and used a remarkable comeback to win its first game, 59-57, against Northern Nash on Thursday.

“I think that was our best game of the year,” Washington coach Steve Flowers said. “We played with a lot of energy. The big key for us all year, the last time we played them, (we had) 27 turnovers. I don’t know what we ended up with tonight, but in the first half we only had six.

“Huge improvement. If we take care of the ball, we can play with anybody.”

The visiting Knights, who thumped Washington by a 20-point margin in the season opener, held a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Sharwan Staton began the rally with the Pam Pack’s first of five — and first of three for him — 3-pointers in the final period.

“I told them, ‘Our reputation is that we always play one bad quarter,” Flowers said, recalling his conversation with the team going into the fourth period. After going into halftime with a lead, Washington conceded 24 points in the third. “I said, ‘That was it. We’ve got eight minutes. Let’s go play.’”

Darquez Flowers and Darius Spragley got quick layups at the other end to push Northern Nash’s lead back to 13, but the Pam Pack didn’t lie down. It was a stark contrast to the way things went through the first four games. Washington would have one bad stretch and never recover. It was blown out by as few as 18 points and as many 39 in its 0-4 start to the season.

“I kept telling the guys, ‘Those days are over. That’s behind us. That’s what we used to be,’” Flowers said. “We’ll see if they believe.”

Staton and Malik Bell knocked down back-to-back treys coming out of a timeout. It made it a two-possession, 54-48, game. Harvey McCullough hit a spot-up 3 to cut the deficit to four.

With tons of pressure on them, Nazzir Hardy and Staton were perfect on consecutive trips to the free-throw line. It knotted the game at 55 apiece with 1:20 to play.

Devontae Wiggins was able to grab a ball bobbling around in the paint and lay it in. With Northern Nash ahead by two, Staton stepped back and drained the go-ahead 3 with less than 30 seconds left. The home fans came unglued, likely contributing to Undray Cherry missing a pair of crucial free throws at the other end.

Staton got fouled moments later and added a free throw to extend the Pam Pack lead to two. Washington got a break on an odd sequence at the other end in which the referee thought he heard a horn and blew the play dead just before a shooting foul.

Time expired, and the Pam Pack notched its first win of the campaign.

One game won’t make a difference, though. Consistency is the key at this point. Washington has to build on its positives and correct the things that led to a third-quarter collapse that almost cost it the game.

“It’s something to build on,” Flowers said. “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday we had good days of practice. We hadn’t had that yet. We had guys playing football, had one practice and started playing games. … We worked on ball control and taking care of the ball. Hopefully it will carry on past this game.”