WASHINGTON TWP. | A slow start on Senior Night isn't a surprise. And it was a trend for Washington Township in a week packed with three games.
The Senators fell behind early against Morgan Township on Friday in a battle for second place in the Porter County Conference. But they didn't panic on their way to a 66-58 victory over the Cherokees.
Washington (15-5, 5-2 PCC) clinched the team's best-ever regular-season in school history, and in the process retained the all-important PCC Keg heading into sectional play next week.
"We came out and started slow all week," said Washington senior Brandon Adkins, referring to eventual wins Monday over West Central and Tuesday against Oregon-Davis. "We knew we could come back."
Morgan (10-9, 4-3 PCC) raced out to a 10-2 lead to start the game before the Senators regrouped.
Sophomore Nathan Line, normally a starter, came off the bench to nail a 3-pointer to start Washington's comeback.
But the biggest flurry came in the second quarter. Sophomore guard Alex Perez hit a 3-pointer off an assist from senior Bryce Pappas to give the Senators their first lead at 21-20 with 2:52 remaining in the half.
After a couple lead changes, Washington ended the half on a 9-0 run to lead 32-24 at the break. Perez hit his second 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, off an assist from Adkins.
"The last home game is emotional for our seniors, but once we calmed down we were fine," Washington coach Scott Bowersock said.
He credited the play of junior Luke Soliday with jump-starting the comeback. Soliday didn't score, but he had a steal that led to a Alex Lowther layup and then pulled down a rebound at the beginning of the big run.
"Defensively Luke was right where he should have been," Bowersock said. "He gave us that spark that just gave us a lot of momentum and it carried over to the second half."
Morgan, without a senior in its lineup, got within 36-33 late in the third quarter on a Jake Koselke free throw. But Washington senior Jake Goodan made a 3-pointer with a minute left to give the Senators a 39-33 lead heading into the fourth.
The Senators maintained a 8-12 point throughout the last period, making 17-of-22 free throws to keep the Cherokees from closing the gap.
Perez scored 20 and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Senators. Lowther finished with 13, Line 11 and Adkins had 11 points and five assists.
Koselke, 6-foot-3 sophomore, led the Cherokees with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Chase Braden added 18 points and three assists, while Martin had 12 points and six rebounds.
"Winning the last home game and keeping the keg is huge on senior night," Bowersock said.