WASHOUGAL — With a double-digit lead in hand and the home crowd on its side, the Washougal girls basketball team appeared to be cruising by Hudson’s Bay to a win.
Hudson’s Bay made Washougal earn every bit of it down the stretch before the Panthers prevailed 57-54.
Billed as an early-season marquee matchup between two of the top teams in the 2A Greater St. Helens League, the Panthers built a 20-point lead and had the Eagles out of sorts for most of the first three quarters.
Trailing by 12 to start the fourth, the Eagles went on a furious rally and got within one point, but a potential game-tying 3-pointer nearing the final buzzer fell off the mark. Washougal escaped, claiming round one of what figures to be a battle between the two throughout the regular season.
Jaiden Bea calmly sank two free throws with 20 seconds left to give the Panthers (4-2, 2-0 2A GSHL) a three-point advantage.
The Eagles had two looks at 3-pointers within the final 12 seconds, but neither found the bottom of the net.
“Hudson’s Bay is a great team. They give us a battle, a fight and that’s what you want in a team,” said Bea, who finished with 19 points. “Coming out, we knew they were going to be aggressive and want that initial drive and energy. We were kind of feeling complacent, we showed a little bit of that, but it gets down there and it’s like, who wants it more and how the shots fall … we got lucky.”
Bay’s Aniyah Hampton scored 10 of her team-high 22 points in the final quarter. Hampton and Bea traded 3-pointers inside of three minutes, the latter of which gave Washougal a six-point cushion.
Then, during a wild sequence with under a minute left, Bay trimmed Washougal’s lead to one with five straight points. Hampton hit another 3 before Bay forced a Washougal turnover in the backcourt, leading to a Paytin Ballard offensive rebound and layup.
Ballard added 17 points and Mahaila Harrison chipped in 12 for the Eagles (4-1, 2-1).
“This team has a lot of heart and they don’t give up,” Hudson’s Bay coach Michael Rainville said. “We had them worried at the end.”
Washougal’s lead grew as large as 20 during a first half that included six 3-pointers, several of them uncontested.
Savea Mansfield led the Panthers with 24 points.
The Panthers have been on top of the 2A GSHL for five years running, but have worthy adversaries in Bay, which reclassified from 3A to 2A, Hockinson and possibly others.
If that means the Panthers will have to work harder for another league title, they’re relishing the challenge ahead.
“We always love the challenge,” Bea said. “The victory is always more sweet when you have the challenge.”
WASHOUGAL 57, HUDSON’S BAY 54
HUDSON’S BAY — Promise Bond 2, Miranda Gonzalez 0, Mahaila Harrison 12, Alana Stephens 0, Devon Johnson-Brown 1, Paytin Ballard 17, Aniyah Hampton 22. Totals 19 (2) 14-24 54.
WASHOUGAL — Chloe Johnson 3, Savea Mansfield 24, Jaiden Bea 19, Samantha Mederos 0, Hadley Jones 0, Carissa De La Rocha 4, Jaisa Wilson 4, Ireland Albaugh 3. Totals 19 (9) 10-18 57.
Hud.Bay 11 10 15 18—54
Washougal 19 18 13 7—57