Tribune Sports Editor
At the moment, West Washington edges-out Crothersville as the sectional favorites.
Of the Tigers’ three losses on the 2016-17 season, two have come to the Senators. Crothersville has beaten every other potential postseason foe.
On Thursday, the Senators (9-6) girls basketball team used a third quarter scoring outburst to propel themselves to a 65-57 victory.
Despite the visitors’ white hot start from the field in the first quarter, the Tigers (10-3) didn’t back down.
Following a basket from Katrina Christian, the Senators went on a 6-0 run behind scores from Cora Milla, Ryana Watson and Hattie Griffits to lead 11-7 with 4:36 on the clock.
Back-to-back baskets from Lacey Hall and Piper Hensley brought the deficit to 18-17, but the Tigers trailed 21-18 after eight minutes of play.
The Tigers coughed-up eight turnovers in the first quarter while Watson dominated inside the paint with 10 points.
Crothersville trailed until Hensley hit a 3-pointer with 2:48 in the second quarter to bring the score to 28-28.
A basket by Maddie Riley and free throw from Hall pushed the Tigers to an 31-30 advantage — their first lead since two minutes into the game — with 1:06 until intermission.
A kicked-out 3-pointer at the top of the arc from Christian dropped with three ticks left put the Tigers up 34-32 at half.
Off the bench, Riley had pulled-down eight of the Tigers’ 17 rebounds first half rebounds.
The Senators’ offense exploded in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 25-11.
Watson scored three consecutive baskets and added a free throw on an and-one as the Senators led 39-34 at the 6:56-mark.
After trading baskets, the Senators scored 11-straight points — the first seven coming from Miller — to lead 55-38 at 2:04.
“We needed to come out with some energy in that third quarter, and for whatever reason we didn’t,” Tigers coach Kevin Hensley said. “We didn’t come out with any energy at all. We just weren’t our normal selves tonight. We didn’t come out with the same energy we had after getting the lead right before half.”
The Tigers regained their composure and outscored the Senators 7-2 in the final 1:25, but the Senators still sat on a 57-45 advantage.
Scoring didn’t get any easier in the fourth quarter for the Tigers. They went three-for-10 in the final eight minutes from the free throw line.
Following a field goal by Hall, Christian scored nine of the Tigers’ final 10 points in the game.
By the contest’s end, the Tigers went nine of 19 at the charity stripe.
Watson led the Senators with 27 points (15 in the second half) and 16 rebounds and Miller totaled 15 points and nine boards.
“They’re a sectional opponent, and if we happen to draw them again we need to do a better job on (Watson),” Hensley said. “We need to get a body on her and keep her off the boards.”
Christian topped the Tigers’ scoring with 22 points and Hensley added 11.
The Senators won the turnover battle 21-12.
The Tigers’ guards, who scored 24 of the 34 total points in the first half, were held to 18 points in the final half — 15 coming from Christian.
“Piper and Kashmir had open opportunities, but we weren’t seeing them,” Hensley said. “We would drive and there might be a kick for a better shot than what we took.”
The Senators outrebounded the Tigers 43-37. Christian grabbed 10 rebounds and Riley snagged 11 boards.
When asked if he wanted another crack at the Senators again in the postseason, Hensley responded, “Absolutely.”