Defending state champion Washington Panthers navigating higher expectations

Washington moves up to Class 4A this season
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 1:29 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - High school hoops season is just around the corner, and 16 Sports got a chance on Thursday afternoon to catch up with the defending Class 3A state champs over at Washington High School.

One thing’s for sure: they won’t repeat as Class3A state champs, but that’s only because the team is moving up to Class 4A this year.

With plenty of familiar faces on the team, as well as a couple of new contributors, the Panthers are still expected to be one of the top powers in the state.

16 Sports asked the team how they’re navigating those higher expectations this season.

“We’re excited, " said Head Coach Steve Reynolds. “Coming off of a 3A state championship in Indiana was huge for us in our community. Being bumped up to 4A, we look at that as a challenge. That’s why we’ve coined this year ‘Challenge Accepted.’ We know the obstacles ahead of us. We know the great seniors we lost last year. But I think we have hungry kids who are ready to step up.”

“We’ve just been learning that we have a target on our backs,” said Rashunda Jones, senior guard. “So, it’s going to be harder, but we know what it takes.”

“Our practices have been really good,” said Kira Reynolds, sophomore forward. “I feel like they’ve been good. Our energy’s been good. I feel like we’re just more excited because we realize what we can accomplish because of what happened last year.”

Washington’s regular season begins next Saturday, Nov. 5, at Lake Central’s Tip Off Classic tournament. The Panthers will face Portage 11:30 a.m. and Lake Central at 5:30 p.m.