Dominant third quarter propels Washington to victory

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — After playing North Pitt to a stalemate in the first half with the score even at 28-28, the Washington Pam Pack heated up from long range in the third quarter, sparking a 29-point outburst in the period to propel Washington to a 75-62 victory on Monday.

Washington (4-7, 0-3 2A Eastern Carolina Conference) head coach Lane Raper said while he had some words for his team at halftime, he credited the offensive explosion in the third quarter to his players hitting shots, including four 3-pointers, as well as upping the game’s tempo.

“When we hit outside shots, that opens up our running game,” Raper said. “I’ve got four guys that can hit from the outside, and as long as one or two of them has got a hot night, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

On Monday night it was Omarion Blount who was the hottest. The sophomore guard scored a game-high 20 points, drilling four shots from behind the arc, including two in the third quarter. Jeremee Bryant was hot on Blount’s heels, finishing with 19 points and sinking a pair of 3-pointers himself.

Even with North Pitt (4-9, 0-0 2A Eastern Plains Conference) heading into the third, Bryant supplied the first 3-pointer of the period from the corner early on. Blount buried another a minute later and the tide began to turn in the Pam Pack’s favor.

Washington also came up with some defensive stops and turnovers, allowing the Pam Pack to break upcourt to score in transition. Treshon Pope used his speed and energy to provide stifling defense as well as to finish off fast breaks, ending up with 11 points. The Washington home crowd grew louder and louder as the Pam Pack’s lead grew, crescendoing into a loud roar when Jordi Barnes sank a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that gave Washington a 57-41 lead.

Pope is a player who didn’t see a whole lot of playing time earlier in the season, but Raper said what the junior has shown in practice earned him more playing time.

“In practice he’s (Pope) always on the floor, he’s diving after balls, so I had to give him some more minutes in the games,” Raper said. “And luckily, those minutes have provided points and a big spark in our offense. He loves to run, he loves playing tough defense as small as he is. He got the big block there at the end to get the crowd going. He’s all over the place, so he’s a big ‘pick-me-up’ right now for us.”

Washington began the final period where it left off in the third, pushing its lead to 21 points with 5:24 remaining in the game. But the Pam Pack cooled off as the Panthers began to heat up a bit themselves. After being held to 13 points in the third period, North Pitt responded by scoring 21 in the fourth, bringing itself within seven points with 1:58 left in the game. That prompted a timeout from Raper, and Washington emerged from the stoppage to close out the win.

Raper classified the game against North Pitt, who used to be in the same conference as Washington until last year, as a rivalry game and said it was a good test against a team that hasn’t missed the postseason tournament since the 2008-09 season.

“It was a big win for us because North Pitt is always in the playoffs. So it looks good on our resume that we got the victory against them,” Raper said.

With the Washington boys basketball team’s win over North Pitt, it meant Pam Pack basketball went 4-0 on the night, as the girls varsity team and both JV squads defeated their Panther counterparts earlier in the day. Raper said the accomplishment was “a big turning point” and “huge” for Washington basketball.

Washington returns to conference play with a home game against South Lenoir tonight at 7:30 p.m.