DAVENPORT — The Washington boys basketball team has had Mt. Pleasant’s number this year, sweeping the Panthers in the regular season en route to a conference title, but Mt. Pleasant won the game that mattered most — the one that took place in the postseason.
The Panthers ran past the Demons 68-51 on Monday night at Assumption High School in Davenport, ending Washington’s season and earning a spot in the district finals.
“Dropping two in the regular season definitely sucked, and then hearing they won a conference championship,” said Panther senior Jaxon Hoyle. “Just getting that redemption game has been that motto all week at practice and then finally getting here and getting that redemption is really nice.”
The Demons were short-handed, losing leading scorer Kasen Bailey and leading rebounder Brock Sobaski to injury shortly before the postseason. Despite that, Washington jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter, and it looked like they had rekindled their fire from the first two matchups of the year.
Mt. Pleasant responded, however, with a 16-1 run to take an 18-9 lead with a few minutes remaining in the first. The Panthers led 18-12 after one quarter and 36-21 at halftime, thanks in part to eight first-half points from Hoyle and eight from Keegan Kohorst.
Washington cut the lead down to single digits early in the third period, but they could never get back within striking distance of the lead. Mt. Pleasant led 43-32 after three quarters and turned it on in the fourth for a decisive victory.
Panther coach Caleb Akey said it was one of the most fullfilling wins of his first two years, especially given the 0-2 regular season record against the Demons.
“You can either be a little intimidated or you can say, ‘that’s who we want to play,’” said Akey. “I asked the kids before they did the seeding, ‘if you could play anybody, who would it be?’ And they said Washington.”
Hoyle led Mt. Pleasant with 19 points and eight rebounds. Brevin Wilson scored 17 points. Keegan Kohorst had 14. Clayton Lowery had nine. Brody Bender scored six, and Jack Johnson had three.
Washington was led by Trashaun Willis, who scored 11 points. Trevor Quigley had 11. Ethan Hunt scored nine. Luke Turner had seven. Lucas Kroll and Ethan Patterson each scored five.
Mt. Pleasant moves on to play top-seed Davenport Assumption in the district final. The Demons will have to settle for a Southeast Conference title and a first-round exit.
“You can’t take away that conference championship,” said Demon head coach Collin Stark. “This is the first winning season in over 10 years. There is a lot of postiives that you can look at this year. You can always say, ‘what if,’ but you just have to look past that. This is a great learning experience.”