PFLUGERVILLE - Connally coach Bradley Washington’s first career playoff win came just the way he likes it.
Efficient, business-like and without much drama.
A veteran Connally bunch with nine seniors dispatched Hutto 60-41 in a Class 5A bi-district playoff game Tuesday at Weiss High School. The Cougars picked up the victory using a methodical method they’ve learned under Washington, a former Leander assistant who is in his first season as the Cougars’ head coach.
“It wasn’t a big run or anything like that,” Washington said. “We got stops, we got scores, we got stops, we got scores; we just slowly built our lead.”
Connally (23-9) leaned on its shot selection, control of the boards and disciplined half-court defense to grind away at Hutto (22-12). The Cougars had six players score at least eight points, and they outrebounded Hutto 39-20. More importantly, they kept a run-and-gun Hutto team that averaged 62.6 points a game in District 18-5A from ever scoring more than five consecutive points.
Connally’s more deliberate style contrasts with the past two seasons, when the Cougars pushed the tempo with abandon under former coach Kyle Jones.
Washington, a 29-year-old native of Sulphur Springs in Northeast Texas with a bachelor’s degree in math from Texas A&M-Commerce, has already paid his dues in the nomadic world of coaching. He had stops at Georgetown, Waco Midway and Killeen Ellison before spending two seasons in Leander. In his experience, he said, an ability to control the tempo keys any extended playoff run
“He wants us to slow it down a little bit and make sure we get the right shot every play,” said 6-foot-8 senior post Eddie Burgess, who joins senior classmates Tyrone Perry and Kylin Robinson as three-year starters for the Cougars. “And defensively, he wants us to get down and play hard.”
Burgess, an old-school post who battles for position on the blocks and boasts a deady turnaround jumper, had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Cougars. Robinson had all of his 12 points in the second half, while Perry scored his eight points before the break to help Connally claim a 27-18 halftime edge.
Breion Powell added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Connally.
Micah Williams had 18 points for Hutto, which loses just two seniors and looks primed for a run at the District 18-5A title next season.
Overall, Connally gave the kind of performance that Washington has come to expect in his inaugural season at the school.
“They’re a great group of guys,” he said. “At this point of the year, these guys have been through a lot of close games, and they’ve learned a lot. I’m proud of them.”
Burgess agrees with his coach, and he believes that the Cougars can improve on last season’s run to the regional quarterfinals.
“We’re basically all seniors,” he said. “We know what to expect (in the playoffs), and we know what to do. We’re just trying to make a playoff run.”