Sports

Film may ease coach's heartbreak

Washington's Travis Leyden (white jersey, arms raised) knows what is about to happen while AJ Wilkins of Grinnell seems ready to challenge the fact that Trashaun Willis is elevating for a dunk. Willis threw it down for a 15-8 Washington lead with 20 seconds left in the first quarter of Thursday's substate semifinal, but Wilkins buried a 3-pointer before the buzzer. (Doug Brenneman/Union)
Washington's Travis Leyden (white jersey, arms raised) knows what is about to happen while AJ Wilkins of Grinnell seems ready to challenge the fact that Trashaun Willis is elevating for a dunk. Willis threw it down for a 15-8 Washington lead with 20 seconds left in the first quarter of Thursday's substate semifinal, but Wilkins buried a 3-pointer before the buzzer. (Doug Brenneman/Union)
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WASHINGTON — Watching game film isn’t as important when a team has played its last game of the season, but Washington head coach Collin Stark may have spent the last couple days watching and re-watching Thursday’s end to a 49-48 Class 3A substate loss to Grinnell to see when a foul was committed.

“It is what it is. I was confident we were at least going to overtime,” Stark said. “I know it’s a coach’s thing but I’ll have to watch film to be able to see what really happened.”

While the last foul’s whistle came after the buzzer, the first foul called in the game didn’t happen until there was 2 minutes, 23 seconds in the first quarter. There were 24 total fouls called. Some games have that many by the halftime.

“The refs allowed the guys to play and they were consistent,” Stark said. “I would rather have a game called that way, especially a postseason game.”

As the final seconds ticked-tocked away on the scoreboard that showed a 48-47 Washington lead and the Tigers scrambled to get a shot off, Demon fans had to be thinking, ‘we got this.’ Stark employed Lucas Kroll in a defensive switch on the final Tigers possession and the effort resulted in a bad shot, a lucky rebound and a devastating ruling that a foul happened before the game ended.

Owen Coffman, a 60.4 percent shooter who was 1-of-5 in the game, sank two free throws for the win.

Suchan started the game and “stepped up,” Stark said. Grinnell had scored seven straight in the second quarter when Suchan drew a charge to stem the run.

Each team made six 3-pointers. The first points of the game were a corner 3-pointer from Trashaun Willis, who scored 10 in the frame, 15 in the game.

“They put Coffman on Trashaun and he just did not want to go outside the paint so Trashaun took advantage of him,” Stark said.

The 3-pointer with the biggest impact on the game could have been, should have been, would have been Travis Leyden’s bomb with 20 seconds remaining in the game for a 48-47 lead, the Demons’ first since early in the second quarter.

The Tiger threes were effective. A Cole McGriff 25-footer at the end of the first quarter canceled momentum from a Trashaun Willis dunk. McGriff hit a trio of threes in the second quarter and an AJ Wilkins bomb closed the first half for a 31-25 lead.

Stark had five timeouts he used to break up the fourth quarter into two-minute sections, which helped close a 42-31 deficit to 44-41.

Grinnell’s record improves to 10-13 and the Tigers play a substate final at No. 5 Pella (19-2) tonight. Washington ends with a 15-7 record. Of the seven Demons that saw action Thursday, only Suchan and Willis are seniors. Other seniors are Thomas Bias, Wilx Witthoft and Zac Stout.

“I spent a lot of time with my team in the locker room and they should be proud,” Stark said. “Back-to-back senior classes have changed the culture of this program. They have a lot to be proud of. I’m going to miss these guys. Each and every one of them have big things ahead in their future. I look forward to following them in their lives.”