BETHANY – Washington’s Kelsey Johnson scored a game-high 32 points to lead the Warriors to a 73-61 victory over Spiro Thursday in the first round of the Class 3A girls state tournament at Southern Nazarene University.
The 6-3 sophomore post, who leads a team with no senior starters, also had four blocks as the Warriors remained unbeaten on the season at 27-0.
“When you have won 27 in a row, you think you are supposed to win,” said Washington coach Rocky Clarke. “They are so young, they make mistakes, but their hustle makes up for those mistakes.”
Spiro jumped to an early 8-2 lead but Washington responded with an 11-1 run at the end of the first quarter to lead 17-12 after one period.
Washington also closed the second quarter on a 9-1 run to take a 34-21 halftime lead. Spiro’s Carleigha Thompson, who led the Bulldogs along with Philicea Mack with 21 points each, kept her team in the game with 14 second half points. But the Bulldogs could never get closer than seven after intermission.
Washington put the game away with 2:53 left when Johnson, who averages 17 points per game, was fouled on a shot and the Spiro coaching staff was called for a technical.
Johnson sank two free throws for the shooting foul and two more for the technical, giving the Warriors an insurmountable 65-54 cushion.
“I liked the way we played today, especially since it was the first time in the state tournament for these girls,” Clarke said. “We kept our composure. They (Spiro) are a very athletic team.”
Washington sophomore Nevada Denton, who scored eight points, said having a player like Johnson gives the Warriors an edge over other teams. The Warriors haven’t faced another team with her height and skill, she said.
“She is a great player, a great post,“ Denton said. “I love having her on my team. We can pressure the outside people more (on defense) because she has got us covered. “
Kailee Orr scored 13 points for third-ranked Washington and Dagan Lampkin added 11.
No. 11 Spiro finished its season at 21-7.