CHARLES TOWN — A long early lead played a significant role. So did players off the bench with their scoring contributions.
As always with Washington, rebounding was important.
Exacting steals and causing Millbrook turnovers were twin reasons the Patriots zipped out to an early advantage.
But the outcome of the game last Tuesday against Millbrook hinged on what the Patriots could do at the free throw line.
Millbrook knew full well the Patriots had missed 22 free throws in a disheartening loss to Handley, Washington’s first fall of the season.
Trailing by a margin it couldn’t dissolve with back-and-forth play, the Pioneers decided to put Washington on the foul line for much of the fourth quarter.
This time, Washington made enough foul shots to win.
It wasn’t a shooting clinic conducted by the Patriots. Or anything close. But 12-of-22 in the last quarter was good enough to salt away a 69-53 win over the Rze Culbreath-led Pioneers.
An early double-figure lead gave Washington the start it needed to control the pace and tempo.
Marquel Hosby with 11 points in the second quarter provided the path to more success. He threw in nine points on three-point field goals.
Millbrook could never find many close-in baskets because its offensive rebounds were so few.
And then the Washington leads were padded by Millbrook floor errors and turnovers.
With the Pioneers failing to maintain any inroads they made into the Washington leads, the fourth quarter became a long parade of Washington players going to the foul line.
The Patriots tried 22 free throws in the last period. They made 12 of them.
And they won by 16 points as Maleke Jones went 7-for-10 from the foul line for most of his 12 points. Jerome Jones had his best scoring game with 15 points and steady-scoring Keldon Bell finished his night with 14 points.
Millbrook had been outgunned by 13 points in the first quarter. That deficit was never fully erased. And then the Pioneers’ all-purpose guard Culbreath went only 5-for-12 from the foul line himself.
Washington was 4-1 overall.
Its lead had been enough. Its 12 fourth-quarter free throws had been enough.