Washington claims super-sectional title

Bryan Veginski
Washington Community High School senior Matt Roth cuts own the net after the Panthers took the sectional title, 64-46, over Geneseo.

The Washington boys basketball team is assured of a trophy in the Illinois

High School Association Class 3A state final.

With a 56-40 victory over Sterling March 11 in the DeKalb Super-sectional,

the Panthers advanced to the state semifinals in Peoria.

The state berth is the first for Washington (26-3) in boys basketball since

1962.

The Panthers will meet either North Chicago or Chicago Marshall at noon

Friday at Carver Arena.

Depending on the result of that game, Washington will play at either 11 a.m.

(for third place) or 12:45 p.m. (for the state championship) Saturday.

At state, the Panthers’ best showing is a runner-up finish in 1909.

In the super-sectional at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center,

Washington took down the Golden Warriors, who were the last barrier between

the boys and a coveted state appearance.

Washington stormed out to a 15 to nothing lead, and repelled Sterling when

it got to within five points twice in the third quarter.

The Panthers were led by junior Dyricus Simms-Edwards, who scored a

game-high 20 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Matt Roth and Ben Worner added 15 points apiece. Worner had 11 points in the

first half, and Roth had a buzzer-beating three pointer to give Washington a

34-26 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“We got off to an incredible start, and it was all defense,”coach Kevin

Brown said.

The Panthers held the Golden Warriors to 30 percent shooting, and forced

seven first-half turnovers.

They limited Sterling’s leading scorer, Joseph Bertrand, to five points on

two of 10 shooting.

Washington scored eight of the first 10 points in the fourth quarter to

establish a 14 point advantage.

“When it hit the fourth quarter, they took over,” Brown said. “I’m just real

proud of this basketball team.”

The Panthers will hit the biggest stage in Illinois high school basketball.

“It’s a dream come true,” junior Brian Tigue said.

The Panthers made up for a heartbreaking 47-46 super-sectional loss in 2005

to Lincoln in Roth’s freshman season.

Washington added to a postseason that also included East Peoria Regional and

Galesburg Sectional titles.

After the game, the automated phone system at Washington Community High

School announced classes will be cancelled Friday so students and faculty

can attend Friday’s game at noon.

The Panthers were ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press 3A state poll.

Sterling was the leader among others receiving votes.

This will be Washington’s second state award in the last nine months.

The baseball team, also guided by Brown, was third in Class AA last June.