IJAMSVILLE — With a 19-point lead only seconds into the fourth quarter, it appeared Washington High had its boys basketball opener against Oakdale locked away.
But Oakdale had other ideas. The Bears of Coach Terry Connolly went to a fullcourt pressure defense and outscored the Patriots, 29-13, in the last seven-plus minutes.
When Kendell Smith made two free in the last seconds, Washington had won, 69-66.
With Zach Thomas scoring a game-high 34 points and its clawing defense causing turnovers, Oakdale got to within one point of the Washington lead on two occasions.
Washington was hurt when it hurried what shots it did get against the fresh Oakdale pressure defense.
The raucous fourth-quarter scene was caused by the desperate circumstances the Bears found themselves in.
Washington point guard Dominique Newman made a three-pointer very early in the last period. His long-range shot gave the Patriots a 56-37 lead. Newman would finish with 17 points.
Scoring from Jared Ruiz and Thomas brought the Bears to within 64-58 with 2:10 to play.
Thomas added four more points and Oakdale was behind only 64-62 with 1:01 remaining.
Jerome Jones countered with a Washington score, but Oakdale’s Jonathan Hoyle made a three-pointer to reduce the Washington lead to, 66-65.
After still another Oakdale steal, Thomas missed two shots in the lane. Newman made one free throw with eight seconds left.
Trailing by two points, Oakdale got the ball to Clay Connor, who drove the length of the court before drawing a foul with three seconds remaining.
Connor made his first free throw, but missed the second and Kendell Smith rebounded for Washington.
Smith was immediately fouled and sank two free throws to provide Washington with its final three-point margin.